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In a Haze This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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      I thought I was a happy person. I was friendly and always smiling. I tried hard in school. I was in school clubs, played sports, and volunteered in my community. It seemed as if I had everything going for me. I had close friends to whom I could tell anything, but for some reason, I just stopped talking.

Always, ever since I was little, I had been different. I thought about things too much and was overly sensitive, but it wasn’t anything that really affected my life. When I got older, things changed. Risks became greater, and my anxiety increased.

The first part of my freshman year I was fine and earned good grades. Then I became overwhelmed with my workload and responsibilities. I would stay up late to finish homework because I was scared to get one problem wrong, and I had so many activities that I barely had time to myself. My grades began dropping, and eventually I just stopped trying.

I felt useless, and more drained every day. The stress was overbearing, and by summer, when I should have been relaxing, I was constantly worrying. I no longer enjoyed the things I usually did, and my eating became irregular. I felt as if I were in a haze and looking at the world from the outside. While all my friends were having fun, I was sitting home obsessing over the way I looked, what I was eating, or whether people liked me.

My parents began to worry. They thought I should see a therapist, but I refused. That was the last thing I should have done. During that summer, my friends drifted away because I no longer enjoyed being with them. My mind was always on other things, in faraway places. I was too preoccupied to eat and I always felt sick to my stomach.

When I went to my doctor he seemed very worried, even though everything physical appeared all right. While checking my nasal cavity and ears, he placed his hand on my head. I heard him mumble “Funny,” and he asked me to turn my head. He examined my scalp and found bald patches. When he was done, he told me that we had to talk about my feelings, and how my behavior had changed. When I told him I was all right, he said he didn’t believe me and that I was balding because of stress-related alopecia!

At the doctor’s request, my parents scheduled an appointment with someone who could help me delve into my issues and find out how I was really feeling. By then my hair was falling out in large clumps, which made me more anxious. My gorgeous hair - which I had always loved and thought was the only nice thing about me, was deteriorating. I felt as if I could not even leave my house.

My friends occasionally tried to call, but I wasn’t returning phone calls. My parents tried to make me eat, and really, I was trying, but I just didn’t have the motivation to do anything.

Finally, I met with a therapist, and she really seemed to understand. I grew to respect her; she was so determined to help me. After a few sessions, she diagnosed me with an anxiety disorder and prescribed medication. I was scared to take the meds at first because I wasn’t going to see immediate results, but I knew they would help eventually. I was actually just relieved to know what was wrong, and that things would improve. I wore hats to cover my bald patches, and realized that it doesn’t matter what I look like on the outside; it is my character that counts.

I was given a special diet, and things began to look up. The medicine started working, and I stopped worrying as much. My hair slowly grew back, as did my self-esteem. It was strange not to worry, to be able to leave the house and interact with others.

By the end of the summer, I knew what I had to do. I began applying myself again, and it took a long time, but I finally began calling my friends. During the long summer, it felt as if I had lost them, but they were waiting for me right where I had left them.

That year, I again tried hard in school, but I made sure I didn’t overload myself. I became one of the top students in my class, a goal I had never achieved before. Every week, I made sure that I had time to hang out with my friends. It’s funny how something bad had to happen to make me realize how good life really is.

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!

Healing_Angel1 said...
Jul. 17, 2010 at 5:14 pm:
I'm glad you got better. It can be tough, but it's not impossible. Take Care.
 
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Bethani said...
Mar. 23, 2010 at 11:32 pm:
interesting story. im glad you're better now. it's a good interesting.
 
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