SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — On a recent Saturday morning, self-proclaimed daredevil Alyssa Burton booked ocean-related activities for a future vacation.
Her chosen destination, Hawaii, should come as no surprise to anyone who knows the 18-year-old East Bay resident, a big fan of being near the ocean.READ MORE: 'He's In Good Spirits;' Former OPD Capt. Ersie Joyner Recovering After Shooting; Remains in ICU
“Jet Ski rentals, sky-diving, I want to go cliff jumping. I want to do it all,” said Burton of her vacation plans. “Even at the beach when you hear people just having fun in the water…it’s just really interesting, calming and it brings me joy.”
But Burton also shows courage beyond her years in other ways, namely by sharing her personal story of love, loss and connection.
The trip to Hawaii is a gift for the 2021 Hercules High School graduate.
Burton will be headed to UCLA this fall, where she will major in Biology. She is not the first in her family to go to college. Her mother also attended college in Southern California.
An aspiring artist, Burton’s mom has also struggled with a debilitating illness.
“Right after I was born my mom was officially diagnosed with Paranoid Schizophrenia,” explained Burton. “You know, like it just can completely destroy a person’s life if it is not caught early enough. It is a disease you know. It can change a person’s life.”
Medical treatments and family support would help at first but Burton said her mom eventually stopped taking her medication.READ MORE: Fremont Neighbors Of Movie Director Joel Souza Stunned Over Shooting On Set Of Alec Baldwin Movie
There was violence in the home, and soon Burton’s grandmother took over parenting duties fulltime. The experience was difficult for Burton.
“I knew her when she was somewhat okay,” said Burton. “And I think that was like the hardest part because it was literally like losing a mom…For a long time, I was like — I don’t want to claim any of this. Like I never told my story. Until I met a friend who actually went through something similar with her mom and I think that is where I found a lot of comfort.”
Burton says she has found comfort in telling her story to others. And she has also found a new freedom and connection with her mother, once a professional artist, whose work was sold.
The two rarely have contact, but Burton recently began painting again. It’s a happy childhood memory.
“Last summer I just started painting,’ said Burton. “I am not the best but I do have a creative side.”
Burton also continues to nurture her adventurous side by planning her trip, taking summer school courses, and relaxing by the San Francisco Bay.
She hopes sharing her story will inspire others and reduce stigma surrounding mental health care.
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“It gets better,” advised Burton. “You make yourself proud.”