Therapy and childhood dream helped grad achieve goal
- Betty Ann Adam | July 18, 2021
Ryanne Torrence knew from the time she was five that she wanted to be a teacher.
“I would make little fake assignments and have my dad do them or put them in front of my teddy bears and pretend that was my class. Little scribbles on paper that was supposed to be writing,” Torrence recalled recently.
She graduated from Senator Miles Venne High School at Lac La Ronge Cree Nation and was accepted into the Universities of Saskatchewan and Regina but chose to stay in the community she loves by enrolling through Northlands College, which delivers the USask Bachelor of Education degree program.
Despite high marks in high school, Torrence struggled with university because of crippling anxiety and depression.
“My anxiety was high. I was nauseated all the time. That went on for years… It was rough.”
Torrence was treated for depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and suicidal thoughts and tendencies. She attempted suicide three times during the four-year program.
“I have lost people to suicide, and I know how it hurts and I know I am very loved so I didn’t want to make my loved ones experience that if I had gone through with it. But I also had a hard time holding on. I needed something to live for. Like I said, from the time I was five it was, ‘I want to be a teacher, I want to be a teacher.’
I needed that. I needed to do this,” she said.
She left school in the first semester of fourth year after a suicide attempt. She had been doing the extended practicum and loved it.
“I was having so much fun, but when my mental health is bad, it’s bad. My depression was so high my chest felt heavy all the time, I felt hopeless, like it would never go away because I’d already been dealing with it for years and I didn’t know what to do. I was so tired of trying to be okay and never making it.”
She worked with her doctor, who tried to find the best medications to treat her mental state while trying to avoid negative side effects.
She also went into intensive, twice weekly therapy that required deep and exhausting daily reflection.
Therapy and medication have helped her regain equilibrium and she intends to continue with them because she wants to maintain her healthy state.
“You have to want (therapy) or else you’re not going to put the effort in… It can’t just be the therapist talking and you listen. You have to talk, you have to engage, you have to participate in exercises that are meant to help you,” she said.
“I feel really good right now,” she said.
She returned this spring to finish her practicum at the same elementary school that she attended as a child.
“I was with these little kids, and it was so awesome just watching them explore and discover new things and learning to interact with people. It was incredible. I had so much fun.”
This spring, after her practicum ended and she’d completed her degree requirements, she was offered a four-week substitute position at the school and is set to teach Grade 3 in the fall.
“I try to tell myself whenever I make a mistake and I feel silly or I regret something, that every mistake and every regret that you have teaches you something,” she said.
“It may be impossible, but I want to live a life without regret, so I try very hard not to let fear stop me from doing something. I was afraid to do this interview but if I didn’t, I’d be breaking my own cardinal rule, so I’m doing it. I don’t want to miss out on good things because I let fear win.”