Lisa & Max: We Are All Human

Lisa Weiss

The views and opinions expressed in following story are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Mental Health Colorado.

Most days now when I wake up, I have a panicky feeling in my chest and racing thoughts in my mind.  I don’t always write, but I know that I need to express all these overwhelming thoughts and feelings.  I never know what is going to come out, but it is images of my family running through my mind almost all the time.  We are all impacted by stress in our collective lives. That’s just how families work. We absorb all of it.

Something that is a constant in our home right now is depression.  I am beginning to understand that this one word generates strong images based on one’s own personal experiences with it.  I’ve found that there are people who don’t understand it at all. I also know that sometimes when people don’t understand something, they are afraid of it.  This makes people scared to name depression in their own lives, but I find it hard to believe that I know anyone who has not been touched by it. Maybe that’s just me though.  I always try to stand firmly in reality.

Whatever name people put on the symptoms they are experiencing in their bodies, I believe it really does often come down to depression.  From my perspective, it can look like a lot of different things because we are all just wired differently. But we are all human, so we are the same.  Depression is a slog.

Max is one of my 16-year-old twins.  They are deaf and have been deeply wounded. They are also very resilient.  They don’t talk much with people outside of our house, so most people can’t really know them, and few people may realize the extraordinary human being they see before them. But I do. Max is a warrior. And they are a leader in every sense of the word.

Max is in the thick of it right now.  There are a lot of things that are affecting them over which they have no control.  No doubt this is an important life lesson. We all have things we cannot control.  Personally, I try to live by the serenity prayer, and I sense that they do too. But they are in an incredibly tough position right now.  The thing they don’t have control over is their education, and that is a place where they excel. At least they did before last year.

Because they are deaf, Max can’t go to school without an interpreter to provide them with access to communication. They are in their second year without access. When they are in school, it has become a war zone. That’s how I know they are a warrior. They have fought. But it is not without deep wounding that comes with battle. They are also battling depression.

Max is keenly aware that they must keep pushing through.  I am in awe of their resilience.

This morning as I opened my google docs to begin writing, I came across a speech that Max wrote last year for a communication competition.  As it turned out, they never gave this speech, but I think what they wrote speaks to the core of their resilience. The speech was about optimism.

Max wrote these words at a time when they were going to into school advocating for them self every single day and not understanding a single thing that was going on because they had no access to communication at all. They asked me the other day if I could imagine what it was like to not understand anything that is going on around you all the time. Max talks about the feelings of isolation. I can imagine, but I do not know. All I know is that it hurts them deeply and it hurts me deeply, as well.  I am grateful that Max is resilient. I pray that we are all as resilient.


Max Tucker

I believe that optimism or determination springs from one life lesson or another. When I was in elementary school, I was bullied, teased, and manipulated.

People called me names like dumb, useless, stupid, retarded, clueless, idiot, pea-brain, confused. Because I can’t hear. Because I don’t always understand information very clearly and my brain mixes things up. Because people don’t understand, I’ve been described by many as abnormal, weird, or strange.

This has made me want to become stronger and more self-aware and to make a difference.  Because I am different. And I think you should too. Everyone can be different, but they’re still the same. And I feel like everyone should show people that we are just the same, like them.

When I had this feeling of being different, I was only two years and nine months old. That was when I lost my hearing. The feeling of being different can make me feel isolated, because for years, being different can make it hard to fit into the world. It makes me feel bad when hearing people treat me like I’m different, like I seem to them as a pushover. Or a doormat.

I feel like my greatest purpose of my life is to make a difference. To share all of what I have. To share my story. To be bold and fast, rather than suffering in silence. And I promised myself to do it, starting at sixteen years old. I want to do all the things that I’ve been wanting to do my entire life. My interests and passions. My story. Everything. And I’m going to do it.

My optimism comes from my life.  Thank you for listening to what I am trying to say.



More than 500,000 Coloradans lack the mental health care they need. You can change that. For more than 60 years, Mental Health Colorado has led the charge in promoting mental health, ending stigma, and ensuring equitable access to mental health and substance use services. It’s life-changing work. Your contribution makes it possible.

Donate Today