Henrico teen impacted by the CKG Foundation SpeaksUp


HENRICO, Va. (WRIC) — Being a teenager can be tough, but imagine thinking something is wrong with you and being afraid to talk about it.

That’s what happened to one Henrico teen.

“I was that happy go lucky cheer leader. Everything was fine,” explains Abigail Herring.

“I was that happy go lucky cheer leader. Everything was fine.”

However, during her freshman year in high school, Abigail describes how her feelings went from fine to funky.

“I stopped eating. I was sleeping all the time,” she says, “I was just really quiet and I wasn’t myself.”

Abigail was suffering from depression. According to suicide.org, as many as one in five teens experience depression at some point. It’s more common than you may think.

Even so, it took Abigail weeks to build up the courage to tell her mom.

“I remember it was really hard. We were in the car driving to cheerleading practice and I was on the verge of crying and she said we’re going to get through this. It’s going to be ok,” adds Abigail.

Her mom Libby remembers that conversation.

“‘Mom, I’m not feeling right. Something is wrong,'” she recalls. “‘I can’t handle anything.’ It scares you as a mom. You know? Like, ‘oh my gosh, how can I help?'”

Through therapy and a lot of dialogue, Abigail eventually overcame her depression and panic. She’s speaking out about what happened to her in the hopes it will help someone else.

“The more that people are aware that this is going on, the more people can help those that are suffering and they won’t be afraid to speak out,” says Abigail.

Abigail is active with the Cameron K. Gallagher Memorial Foundation, an organization whose namesake also suffered from depression.

16-year-old Cameron died from Sudden Cardiac Arrest in 2014. Now, her legacy lives on inside these walls.

“She was a crystal and there’s light sides and smooth sides but there’s dark sides and sharper edges and you celebrate the whole person,” Cameron’s mother, Grace, explains. “You don’t just pick the things that you think look pretty.”

The Gallagher family is leading the charge to eliminate the stigma that still surrounds mental health issues. Programs created by the foundation let kids know it’s ok to talk about depression.

“These kids are coming to us saying, ‘hey, you matter. You’ve made a change. You saved me. You gave me hope. You gave me a reason to believe that this cause is worth fighting for,'” Cameron’s father, David Gallagher, said.

Julie Basinski