Our road has been long and is still full of twists and turns. My daughter is in grade 11 and is 16 this week. She has not had a “regular” school year since grade 7. Her anxiety began much earlier; from day one of kindergarten, she hid and did not speak. To anyone outside the house, not to friends or teachers. She was diagnosed as having a form of anxiety, select mutism. This continued through grade 4 and included not only silence but also being frozen and crying before school. I couldn’t get her out of the car. She missed on average a day a week. And in the evenings, she was the opposite: she threw tantrums, screaming, crying, and wrecking things. We exhausted all support and were left with the final option – change schools. We moved as a family and apprehensively took her to an ice cream social before the new school year. When a welcome group came to give her a tour of the school, she talked! It was like we could finally breathe after years of tension and fears. She had 3 wonderful years of this, connecting with kids, opening up, laughing, and being engaged in learning. We also discovered that she was educationally way behind and not at level in reading or math. It still was a rough road of enforcing tutoring and needing extra school support, but she seemed to be doing better. The school system started high school at grade 8, so we decided to move again, to be closer to family, but also to give her an opportunity to stay on in middle school. So grade 8 was another fresh start. She still spoke but remained shy and disengaged. By mid-spring, she stopped attending and missed the last month and a half of school. Enter high school, she went in optimistic but didn’t make it past September. And at this point depression had crept in. She just slept all day and every day and withdrew. During all this time, we accessed mental health support through the public and private systems. She had seen every type of support, one-on-one weekly/monthly visits, anxiety groups, and had been put on medication. Grade 9 was a wash; grade 10 was started at SIDES, but the fact that she could stay home meant she barely attended the support hours and didn’t finish any work. By November, she got a placement in Ledger House, where we hoped a change in habits could occur. It did, as she returned home for Christmas and started at Artemis Place in January. This is the first place that felt right. She has an assigned Learning Support teacher and Counsellor. This team checks in with her and keeps her engaged with learning and even outings with the school, although she still struggles and misses some days. Artemis doesn’t make her avoid going back; her counsellor will message her or check in on these days and has even picked her up for school! Our goal now is for her to get caught up and complete high school. That is all we can hope for; her anxiety will be lifelong, but at some point, the skills she’s been taught will help her live a fulfilling life. Whatever that looks like.