This Battle of Mine This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

By , Naperville, IL
I lived so long in that state that I forgot what it was like to be normal.
My biological clock was messed up big-time. I no longer functioned during the day, and I spent all my time at night on the computer. Yes. Even during school nights. And I didn't realize it then, but if I didn't stop myself, it would grow until it rolled back over to crush me.

I would I could not sleep anytime before midnight. I would toss and turn in bed if I tried. When I woke up, I would feel even more tired. What was the point? The later I slept, the harder it got to turn around. And then my parents finally noticed.

It was a hard time for us both. They took extreme measures to make sure I went to bed and stopped going on the computer. That, of course, didn't stop me. I climbed back out and snuck in the laptop under the covers. Like in shows when it's after bedtime and the character reads under the covers with a flashlight. Except every single day.

I was exhausted physically and mentally from always being on guard. Every little creak I heard at night, I feared it was my parents, waiting, just waiting to jump in and catch me disobeying them. And we'd fight. I cried, out of frustration. Why couldn't they just leave me alone? I had it under control, or so I wanted to believe. If they would just let me be, we wouldn't have to go through all of this. I could stop whenever I wanted to. And there was just so much to do online. I had forums that I followed and actively participated in. Didn't they understand that if I didn't post, it'd be going against my responsibilities?

That was the problem though. I was so sunk into these responsibilities, that I forgot my real ones. The ones that mattered. Like myself, my family, my school, and my music... my art... Everything that I had been struggling to keep up with. Things that I had once loved that became burdens when I started to obsess with the computer. But I wasn't willing to give it all up just yet. Not until my mom came to me with one last attempt.

She handed me an internet article, printed in black and white, and left. And I read it. It was about a boy. An insanely internet obsessed boy. He had stayed up late one too many nights. When his mother found him in the morning, he was laying on his computer. Dead.

I re-read. And re-read it. And again. Was this for real? How stupid was this guy? How could he let it go so far? I went back to the computer. However, unnerved, I Googled up some answers. Sleep deprivation... could lead to early death? I mean, yeah, sleep is important. But...

Over the next several days, I quizzed my friends on their own sleeping habits. Casually, of course. I didn't want them to know. Festering in the bottom of my stomach was the deep fear that I actually was hurting myself. Ashamed, I covered it up. There was no way I was going to be found out.

But it didn't matter. Their answers confirmed my weak, quivering denial. Did nobody else ever do this? Stay up this late on a daily basis? Procrastinate until it's too late?

I was ruining myself. Maybe it was a couple years ago, or centuries, before this all started, that I was a young girl. A promising young girl. I knew it in my heart that I was going to go places. What's the word? Potential. And I never worried. Because I knew how great I could be. How smart and talented and amazing I was.

And now I know how I choked all of that up and stepped all over it with my muddy feet. No wonder I was never as popular as my friends. No wonder that sometimes it felt like I was failing at even the easy things. Tasks that I could once excel at gradually became harder. And I could no longer fake it through. Even so, I knew I was so much better than this. And I would find a way to get out of this.

That was near the middle slums of Junior High. I told myself: Summer. I'd wait till school got out and reform myself in the summer. I'd be a good student next year. A fresh start.

But it's really not that easy. High school: a completely different world. And old habits are so, so, so hard to break. I wish I could tell you how great I'm doing. I wish I could report that I have gone this long without staying up too late. I wish I could shout out that I am fighting back and I am winning. I really wish I could.

I'm really scared sometimes. I want so badly to stop. But over and over, I find myself in the same exact position as I was in last time. People give me advice and I want to scream at them, "Don't you think I've tried this already? Don't you think that I've looked for help by myself? That maybe I have read stories and articles and how to win? That countless times I have told myself to 'gear up, it's time to get serious'?"

They say that acknowledging the problem is the first step to changing it. But just because you take the first step, doesn't mean taking the next one will be any easier. But I don't want to live like this anymore. I want to be proud of myself, not sniveling under the shadow of my own laziness. And I know that what I'm doing is also killing the ones I love around me. But I'm not doing it for them. This is for me. I need to prove to myself what I can do. Because I'm not so sure I can anymore.

Sometimes, I still don't know. This battle might never end. But I'll keep trying.

You hear that?

I'm not going down without a fight.





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Healing_Angel This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Dec. 15, 2010 at 9:54 pm
The internet is a dangerous place andcan become addictive before we realize it as you discovered. This is well written: short and to the point. Good job.      
 
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