Staring at the Ceiling This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

November 17, 2010
By , Sunman, IN
I was staring at the ceiling, trying to convince myself that I wasn't going crazy. You're okay. Things are going to be okay. Everything's fine. Just breathe and sleep will come. I tried to muffle the noise of my crying with my pillow, but if I couldn't sleep then why should anyone else get to?

Think of happy things.

It took me a while to think of anything that made me happy anymore. I thought of my favorites places. Maybe if I was there I would be able to sleep. I'm sure I'd be happier anywhere but here.

One sheep, two sheep, three sheep, four sheep, five sheep.

I checked the time. It was 2 a.m. I'd had enough of lying in bed, so I got up and went into the bathroom. I looked at the girl in the mirror and wondered who she was: the girl with the sad, tired eyes, hair plastered to her face, red, puffy cheeks, and dark circles under her eyes. I splashed cold water on my face and when I looked again I saw myself.

Days passed like this, and looking back I wonder how I made it through. Sometimes the sadness of not sleeping and the fact that my body was being taken over by anxiety was too much. I began to hate the things that I used to love and I searched for something that made me happy. But nothing could fill the holes.


I sat in Spanish listening to the sound of the teacher writing on the board.

Please let the day end. I just want to go home.

We had just finished an assignment, and the teacher was calling on students to read their answers aloud. I didn't want to listen, so I pulled out my library book and read one page over and over.

“Kathy? … Kathy, what did you get for number five? … Kathy!”

I jerked up and fumbled for my notebook, knocking some of my books to the floor.

“A-ab-abrela,” I stuttered.

Breathe. Calm down. It's not a big deal. No one's looking at you. No one's laughing. You're okay.

I was afraid to turn around. I didn't want to know if people were staring at me. I figured they were. I spent the rest of the class staring at the chalkboard.

I knew I was losing it. I was going crazy. I had lost my old self, and I couldn't find her again. I wanted to send out a search crew but then I'd have to tell people. And I was afraid that they wouldn't believe me if I told them something was wrong.

My feelings of sadness led me to look up the symptoms of depression. As the computer loaded the page, I prayed that I didn't have them.

I'm not depressed. I'm not the type of person who gets depressed. It'll be okay. I'll just confirm that I'm not, and then everything will be normal. Just breathe.

The page loaded, and a list of symptoms appeared.

“Signs and symptoms of depression in teens: sadness or hopelessness, irritability, anger or hostility, tearfulness or frequent crying, withdrawal from friends and family, loss of interest in activities, changes in eating and sleeping habits, restlessness and agitation, feelings of worthlessness and guilt, lack of enthusiasm and motivation, fatigue or lack of energy, difficulty concentrating, thoughts of death or suicide.”

I told myself that because I didn't have all of the symptoms, I wasn't depressed. Each day I looked at the list to make sure I didn't have more of the symptoms, even though I always did.

A few weeks later, my mom told me that she had scheduled a doctor's appointment for me. She said she and my dad thought this had gotten to the point where medical attention was necessary. I absolutely agreed.

The doctor wanted to hear my symptoms, and she did a blood test to rule out any physical issues. A week later when the blood test came back, we learned that there was nothing physically wrong. So that meant that there was something psychologically wrong with me.

Once again, I headed to the doctor. I prayed that it wasn't depression. I prayed that it was just a suspicion that I was depressed and not a fact.

“I think that you have anxiety,” the doctor said.

Anxiety? Like I'm anxious? I've never heard of that. I don't think it's even a real problem.

“Antidepressants are probably the best treatment for your situation.”

Antidepressants … so I am depressed. It's okay – don't cry.

“Aren't antidepressants for depression, though? I thought you said she had anxiety.” My mom seemed as unsure about this as I was.

“Antidepressants are used to treat a variety of issues,” said the doctor. ”Anxiety is one of them. Many people who suffer from anxiety are also depressed, so it works hand in hand to treat both illnesses.”

I am ill. There is something psychologically wrong with me.

“What do you think, sweetie? I'm not sure about it, but if you think it'll help-”

“Mom, I don't want to do this anymore!”

And that's when I lost it. The dam that had been holding in my emotions broke, and next thing I knew I was sobbing. My mom held me and told me everything would be okay. She told the doctor that we would try the medicine.

I was embarrassed about taking antidepressants. I didn't tell anyone except my best friend. I didn't even write it on my medical forms, I was so ashamed. But then I did research, and I learned more.

Anxiety and depression aren't weaknesses. They're battles inside your body for who gets control. And most of the time, you don't win. I also learned that a lot of people wake up every day and face the same problems I did; I learned that just by talking to my friends. I'm not alone, and I won't ever be alone in my battle against anxiety. And maybe one day, I'll win.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

kelsee727 said...
Apr. 20, 2011 at 6:44 pm

I was diagnosed with anxiety the end of my 7th grade year. I was too scared everytime I would get so worked up and I felt like my air tube was tightening up. Anxiety attacks are not all. Mine isn't as severe as others, thankfully. However, I depend on my pills to function properly through the day. They say that you can grow out of it..possibly. Hope it is true.

Glad you wrote an article about this. It was needed.

BistyBoo2 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Apr. 20, 2011 at 8:51 pm
Thank you for the comment! It's really nice to know that there are other people that understand what anxiety feels like. I agree about what you said...I really do hope you can grow out of it.
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