- Summer Guide
- College Guide
- Author Interviews
- Celebrity interviews
- College Articles
- College Essays
- Educator of the Year
- Personal Experience
- Travel & Culture
- Current Events / Politics
- Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking
- Entertainment / Celebrities
- Love / Relationships
- Movies / Music / TV
- Pop Culture / Trends
- School / College
- Social Issues / Civics
- Spirituality / Religion
- Sports / Hobbies
- Community Service
- Letters to the Editor
- Pride & Prejudice
- What Matters
Curtain opens with seven chairs set in a circle, two teenage boys and three teenage girls sitting in them, and an older woman in the other.
I was always washing my hands, over and over, but they never felt clean. Whatever my left hand did, my right hand had to do. I found myself even telling others to do something over again with their other hand, simply because it disturbed me too much. It seemed like people thought I was some sort of freak because of it, which I always told myself I wasn’t. I always saw myself doing things that I would never do. It was only in my mind, but it seemed so real, and I felt like I had to stop myself.
I was always arguing with myself over the littlest things, like the decision was such a hard one to make, even if it was a simple yes or no question. Everything had to be perfect, set in the right spot on the table, where my backpack was put after school every day, where I found my books in my desk, etcetera.
I always felt scared or angry around people, like everyone around me was there to attack me or something, and I always had to do the same thing at the same time every day.
My parents finally decided to get me help, so here I am now, here, with all of you.
Turns to Shawn
Would you like to go next?
Sure… my name is Shawn, and I have an eating disorder…
I never thought about it at first, but my older brother told me one day that he thought I might have an eating disorder, and he pointed out how I ate very little, and then I would go to the gym or do some sort of exercise afterwards. I told him that he was wrong, and only girls have eating disorders, but I decided to look it up, and as I really thought about what I was seeing on the internet, I was realizing that I was feeling like that about myself.
After I ate I just felt fat, I mean, I know that I’m not, but I just felt like it. I always had to be getting exercise or else I just felt the anxiety from it.
People tried to get me to eat, but I just felt even worse about myself after that. I always wanted to make people happy though, so I ate anyway, but I ended up just doing whatever I could to get it out after.
If someone would ask me if I wanted anything to eat though, I just told them that I wasn’t hungry, or I had just eaten recently. No one bothered to push it on me though.
My parents finally decided to get me help when they found me throwing up in the bathroom, so that’s why I’m here now telling you all this.
Turns to Marina
How about you share something?
Ok… I’m Marina, and well, I’m depressed…
I don’t really know when things changed, but one day I just felt awful about myself. I felt I wasn’t good enough for anyone anymore and felt like I just wanted to cry for ours and hours.
Friends became meaningless to me and I didn’t really want to hang out with them or anything. I just wanted to be alone all the time.
I didn’t feel like eating for some reason… it wasn’t that I was starving myself; I just wasn’t hungry.
People were getting annoyed with me because I guess I just wasn’t getting very involved with them as much as I used to and when someone would say something everyone found funny, I just wouldn’t laugh… I was having trouble sleeping; I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night, but then I would wake up early in the morning and not be able to go back to sleep.
Things like color didn’t matter to me anymore. Everything was always black. Music and pictures and sports didn’t matter anymore.
I started doing badly in school because I couldn’t focus on stuff, or I just got annoyed with everything, or just couldn’t make up my mind about what the answer was.
I felt like I wanted to die, or just do anything to get away from it, but I wouldn’t. I still had friends, even if I didn’t want to be around them very much.
It all started happening after my parents got a divorce. Custody Court was really stressful and both of my parents were always trying to win me over. I don’t have any siblings. My mom finally noticed that something was wrong, so she pulled a few strings and got me into this group.
Turns to Tyler
Ok, how about you?
My name is Tyler and I’m afraid of pretty much everything. It started out as falling, and then more fear developed. I was afraid that people would leave me behind…again. My mom left when I was eight, and then that lead my dad to be so stressed he had a heart attack six months later. The ambulance didn’t get there on time, and the next thing I knew Social Services was taking me away.
I wasn’t good enough for her, that’s why my mom left. I wasn’t a good enough son to keep her around, and I guess my dad must have been pretty happy just before he died, knowing that he would finally be away from me.
Everyone told me that it wasn’t my fault that she left, but I knew they were only saying that to get me to feel better about myself.
Well, what makes you think that it was your fault?
Well, when I was seven I developed a fear of falling, so when my mom left, I thought that was part of the reason why. She couldn’t take me down the escalator with her, so we had to walk around the mall just to find an elevator, or just take the stairs. I couldn’t go on roller coasters or hayrides, because I felt like I would fall out at any time, same thing with boats.
Nobody would take me anywhere with them, because I was always afraid to do stuff, and that just made it worse.
I live in fear every day that I’ll fall over and break and bone, or one of the few friends that I have left will leave me.
Everyone else left, so what reason do my friends have to stay with me? My parents are gone, and I’ve been through a couple of foster homes already, and even though the one I’m in now has a few other kids, I’m still alone.
I want people to see that I’m here and to not overlook me all the time. I’m afraid that they’ll all just move on and never speak to me again. I’ve never had a girlfriend, because I can’t take her anywhere; I am afraid to drive, for fear that I’ll flip the car over and hit somebody.
In a sarcastic tone
I bet what you’re really afraid of is commitment…
In a much angrier tome
I can’t take living with this fear anymore. I want all of these problems to go away, but they never will. I just don’t want to believe that. I want to be good enough for somebody, good enough for them to stick around and good enough to them to care enough to pay attention to me. This pain hurts too much, after having my mom leave, my dad die, and all of my friends leave me behind. No one will take me anywhere with them, so I’m always just sitting alone at home. One day I finally got sick of it, so I found a rope in the garage and tied it to a big pipe that stuck out in the basement. I stepped off of the chair and the rope snapped, and then my foster parents got home and found me on the ground with the rope still around my neck.
So they decided to send me here to, I guess…talk about my problems.
Well we’re very glad you came and I hope that you can be able to grow out of these fears.
Turns to Kelly
Ok, you’re the last one.
Uh… my name is Kelly and I started being abused from the time I was eight to about six months ago, and my mom was always too high to do anything about it. That was seven years ago, and I now live with my aunt.
Life was a living nightmare for me; I would come home from school and do my homework until my dad came home and beat me. If he was sober, which didn’t happen very often, he would come into my room and try to talk to me, which I liked at first because I felt like he was my dad again, but when he would come home drunk he was always calling me garbage, yelling at me and hitting me. It felt like hours and hours of senseless beating.
When I was fifteen I got into alcohol, and the alcohol led to drugs, and all of my friends were from the wrong side of the street, if you know what I mean. I would get drunk all the time, and I often found myself running from the cops for doing some stupid thing like breaking a store window or something. It was when I actually got arrested that I realized I was turning into my own parents. My drunken father who never said the words ‘I love you’ to me, and came and hit me every day and my druggie mom who would come in and apologize to me every day after he would hit me, saying that she only kept him around because we needed the money. Yeah, we needed the money for her to buy drugs and for him to buy his alcohol.
I’m so sorry about your parents. How did you get out of there?
After another year or so I finally got the guts to call the cops on my dad. He came in after I hung up the phone and asked me who I called, and when I told him that the cops were coming he yelled at me and started hitting me again. He was drunk though, and forgot that the cops were coming, so they came while he was hitting me, and they took him away.
They searched the house and found the drugs, so my mom was arrested to. Now I’m with my aunt who has a daughter of her own. I never got along with my cousin; we were both into different things and that always started conflict between us. She’s always calling me fat and my aunt always picks sides with her because she’s the perfect little angel, while I’m… well, y’know, not.
One day my cousin said something about my parent’s and about how I was just like them. That set me off and it broke out into a cat fight if you would call it that. My aunt came and broke it up and of course took her side and said that it was my fault for being so upset by it.
So now my aunt thinks that I have anger management issues, so she sent me here to get help.
And we’re all glad that you’re here.
Thank you all for sharing. You have all taken your first steps towards taking back your life. We’ll meet again next week and maybe, if you are ready to move forward, we can dig a little deeper. Unfortunately, we’re out of time for today. Have a good week and stay safe! I want to see you all here next week.
Mary stays onstage until everyone has left
The reason I decided to be a psychologist is because of my sister who had some problems just like these kids. My parents got her help and then put her aside, and no one ever paid attention to her after that. I was ignoring her myself some of the time.
It was a few years later that my sister started acting out, somehow starting rumors about herself and saying that nobody cared about her. My parents ignored the rumors that she started, saying that it was just a stage of life she was going through.
It was after I found the cuts on my sisters’ wrists that I knew something was wrong. She told me not to tell our parents, so I didn’t for her sake. I knew that keeping secrets from my parents was wrong, especially about something that serious, but I still didn’t tell them... I should have told someone about the cuts, but I decided that it would be better if I just kept quiet, so that she wouldn’t get in trouble, but also so that she wouldn’t be mad at me for telling on her. About a month later she killed herself…
That’s when I decided to go into psychology, so that I could hopefully save these kids’ lives. I’ve seen some pretty bad stuff in these kids, but I’m going to try to stick with them as long as possible