Her makeup was stark and dark and she dressed all in black. She didnt need any friends and she didnt want any friends; she was a loner and just wanted to be left alone.
She was angry and depressed and hated everyone. It was the darkest time in her life.
She says: It was just like a shield I put on so no one would hurt me again. But of course they did. It kind of provoked them to hurt me more.
DeAnna Broad had not even become a teenager yet when her world fell apart.
I started puberty and my parents got divorced as if I wasnt crazy enough already (she jokes). Pubertys hard, and then having to go through the stress and anger of having your parents get a divorce.
I was mad at everybody. I hated everybody. You questioned everything, you questioned yourself like was I not a good kid or something, you know?
All kinds of people survive all kinds of things, and they each do it in different ways, with varying degrees of coping. This is DeAnnas story.
Its hard to talk about your whole entire life, especially when you want to forget it. I regret a lot of stuff, but I really wouldnt take it back because a lot of that stuff made me who I am today. Even though it was a hard struggle and I hated it back then, I look back it kind of helped shape me.
The advice DeAnna has for kids today is that its hard to get out of the deep darkness she was in without a push from someone else. For her, that came from her family and ultimately, the birth of her son, although that comes a little later in the story.
I was suicidal. I wanted to die. I was fighting with everybody; I was really homicidal. I wanted to burn down the world; I wanted to kill everybody.
I was angry at my parents. I thought the world was treating me unfairly. I was blaming the world; basically blaming everybody but myself. And it just hurt.
When she was 13, DeAnnas mother and grandparents staged an intervention. They threw out all her Goth clothing and cleaned out her room; they painted the walls a neutral color and bought bland clothing for her to wear. She remembers her family gathering around her, telling her how they felt and how dangerous she was being. The clincher was when they read her diaries back to her.
I never even thought about how horrible I was going until they read them back to me.
They wouldnt let her be by herself, and insisted she go fishing and hiking and get outdoors with them.
You know what is weird? I was such a dark person, but I was terrified of the dark. I guess somewhere deep in there (in me), I didnt want to be that way. But I didnt know it.
At first I kind of felt like they were hating on me, like, aw, you just dont like me, youre trying to mold me into your perfect idea of a girl. But that was just me being stubborn. A couple of days later, I suddenly felt all their love wash over me and completely erase who I was.
That was DeAnnas first lifeline, and it was good for a while, at least. Between 13 and 19 years old, DeAnna dropped out of at least four schools and was twice in residential treatment programs for her mental health. She was, finally, diagnosed as bi-polar, not depressed. The programs were a haven, a place where she could be safe safe from herself. Leaving that security was a scary step.
I didnt want to cause myself to go back. I didnt want to do the same stuff that I used to. I didnt trust myself at all.
Contrast that to today. Now 20, she graduated from high school in May (Two years too late, she jokes. Whatever.) and received the Mayors Award to Youth, given to students who have risen above hardships and helped others. DeAnna quotes a teacher about her transformation:
From the girl who was scared of everything, I became the girl who is scared of nothing.
I am so much different than who I was. Im not afraid to voice my opinion; Im not afraid to do anything. You know what I have one life to live. Im going to do it right.
Not that any of it was easy. When she was 19, DeAnna found out she was pregnant.
Oh, God. I was so scared. I was the kind of person who didnt want to do anything by herself. I didnt want to go outside, I couldnt make phone calls. I was so introverted and dependent on others. I was very, very inside-my-shell, a scared little girl. I call it my turtle tipped-over-on-its-shell. ...
Like, how the heck am I going to take care of a baby?
After a difficult first trimester, DeAnnas family intervened again. She says, They kind of forced me but I went. She registered at Marian Prichett School for pregnant teens, and moved into the Booth shelter for homeless women and families. DeAnna was on her own.
A bunch of ladies (at the shelter) pretty much adopted me. Everyone there called me Princess because I basically went from like a little princess who never did anything, to having to take care of myself and do chores and live on my own. It was scary.
At school, DeAnna met all the academic requirements (she was on the honor roll), plus learned about budgets, how to get a job (shes still looking), and how to take care of her child. Kaleb was born July 12, 2011.
A tether its like the line was kind of breaking, withering thin. But they (my family, especially my baby brother and sister) were the ones keeping hold. And then Kaleb was the one who threw me another line, like, Heres a tougher one, Mom.
It wasnt always certain, but now DeAnna has a future and a purpose. DeAnna will start classes at the College of Western Idaho this fall. Shes working on scholarships, and she has a Pell grant.
I believe theres a reason why everyones here, on the planet. I believe everyone has their own little thing they have to do. I want to be a psychologist. I want to help girls like me.
Its like my purpose to help. I feel it so far down, I can feel it in my toes how much I want to help.
Like if I could help girls in my position the self-hate, the depression. Its stoppable, because Im proof its stoppable. ... I want to show them that they can get out of that rut and they can go back to who theyre supposed to be.
Not that any of her future or her life will be easy, either. Dark thoughts still return and old habits resurface. She sees a therapist weekly, she takes medication faithfully and she has learned from the past to watch for the signs of when she needs help and then she picks up the phone.
In the dark days, I hated everything. So now I just want to love everything. Its so much better.
DeAnna snuggles her son, who giggles and squirms and laughs with his mom.
I like to put it: As I gave him life, he gave me mine back. (Along with Booth and Marian Pritchett), he made me the girl Im supposed to be. Not the girl I want to be, but the girl I know I can be.
(This girl) feels nothing but love and forgiveness towards everything. She doesnt ever want to feel hate again; she doesnt want to lie ever again. She doesnt want to ever feel completely lost in the darkness; she wants to basically swim in the light.
And Im getting closer to her. Sometimes I forget, but most of the time Im her. Kaleb helps me. Hes the one who pushes me in that light. Hes like, Here you go. Heres a helping hand.
Know someone living from the heart? Idaho Statesman photojournalist Katherine Jones spotlights someone in the Treasure Valley who influences our lives not only by what they do, but how and why they do it. Do you know someone we should know? Call 377-6414 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.