A World of Ups and Downs

September 20, 2007
By Jamie Barten, Bloomington, MN

A World of Ups and Downs

I roll over and turn off my alarm clock. I really don’t feel like going to school today. My mom comes in my room begging me to get up but I refuse to move. What’s the point when I'm failing all my classes? This is the third time this week I have skipped school. My mom leaves my room and slams the door in frustration. Three tears make their way down my cheeks and onto my pillow; I have let her down once again.

From where I am I can hear my mom in the kitchen calling the attendance switchboard. Her story is that I’m sick. What she doesn’t know is that I really am sick, not physically but emotionally. I hear the front door close and then the garage door. I could sleep for a couple more hours, or I could take a shower and watch television.

I enter the bathroom and immediately step onto the scale. I’m down two pounds from yesterday, but as I look down all I see are my old scars and fresh cuts on my hips. I know it’s wrong, but it’s very addicting. It’s like a child and a mosquito bite; to scratch it and it feels good but not long after it hurts from scratching too hard. I cry to myself once again, only this time with a razor in my hand.

My work is done and I am satisfied. I slowly step into the shower letting my body get used to the cold water. I’m not allowed to take hot showers because those are only for happy people, and because I’m not happy like I used to be I don’t deserve warm water. I look down and see the water with a red tint disappear down the silver hole. I like to think that the tinted water is my sadness washing away forever, but I know that tomorrow morning or perhaps even later on today the sadness will return, possibly even stronger than now.

When the water runs clear for a couple of minutes it is time to get out. I wrap a towel around myself and go to my room where there is a dresser drawer open. I share a room with my sister so it’s not unusual for a drawer to be open, only this was my drawer. My parents were in my room while I was asleep, and I didn’t notice it before. I run over and slam the drawer shut, and then I punch it as hard as I can until my knuckles bleed. It's small things like this that make me angry, but I can’t figure out why. I don’t understand it. I’m not myself anymore; I have no control over my body. It seems to have a mind of its own.

I text my mom and tell her that she better not go into my room anymore. I always send her nasty texts like this because I can get away with it. It’s a way of releasing my anger even though it’s hurting someone else. I say some other mean things, knowing that if it’s bad enough she will tell my dad. This will cause him to yell at me, which forces me to take another shower.

The days become one big blur. Every day is the same routine… I skip school, sometimes I get sad, other times extremely angry over nothing. Every day I will cry at least three times not including when I cry myself to sleep, leaving mascara stains on my pillowcase and my cheeks. I feel like I have no friends. Nobody calls and asks where I was; why I wasn’t at school today. My parents make me feel like they don’t love me. They have no idea what hides under my clothes. They are too busy with their own things. My mom can only concentrate on the fact that my brother just left for college, and my dad has to spend his time with my sister who has special needs. I’m the middle child, and I hate it with a passion.

Before long I find myself in the habit of smoking cigarettes. Again, my parents have no idea. Also, on the days I do go to school I make sure I have a razor in my purse and make one or two trips to the bathroom. By the time it was time to go home I smell like smoke and have blood stains on the hips of my pants. Soon I decide it is time to do my own laundry. My parents must never know my secrets.

It’s Thursday today, and I get up and go to school. The day goes by like normal days, or as normal as they can be. I go to my classes and see all the work I have missed. I become very frustrated so I go to the bathroom once again. By the end of the day I am ready for a cold shower. My mom has offered to pick me up from school, so I wait outside the front doors for her. I get into the passenger seat of the family mini van. Soon it’s obvious that we aren’t going towards home. I look over and ask what she’s doing. “We are going to a psychiatrist” is how she responds; as if it’s no big deal. I scream and climb to the back of the van, tears bursting from my eyes. I lie in the back seat and kick the ceiling as hard as I can.

The van comes to a stop, and I try to calm down. I follow my mom into the gray building with many windows. We go to the third level and into an office that reads “Dr. Foxx”. My mom tries to talk to me, but I ignore her. I want to tell her I hate her, but I can’t get the words out. An old lady with glasses hanging off the edge of her pointy nose and a hunchback appears at the door. She reminds me of a lobster. She tries to act like she has known me for my whole life. I immediately decide I don’t like her, and she knows it, too.
After about an hour of this old witch questioning me about things I really don’t feel like sharing, she diagnoses me with depression. For some reason when she said those words something heavy was lifted from my shoulders. That day I went to the pharmacy for a prescription for Prozac, an anti-depressant.

The next thing I know I have D’s in all my classes compared to F’s. Again, weight is lifted off my shoulders. Now I feel like I have a chance to pass the 10th grade. I notice that I’m not crying as much anymore. I feel like a new person is trying to escape from my body. The person I really am is coming back, the one everyone knew before the depression took over me. I stop smoking not long after that but I am not ready to give up my razor yet. As the days go by, I find myself smiling more and more.

I start thinking more and more about the past six months and all that I have gone through. I realize that it’s not just me who has gone through all this but my parents as well. When you hit rock bottom the only place you can go from is up.

Today is Tuesday, January 9, 2007. I have finished all the homework I was behind on; that was never completed. I go and give my mom and dad a hug. This is the first time I have hugged them in months. I see my mom start to cry, and I tell her I love her. I decide to take a shower and go to bed. I slowly walk into the bathroom and step onto the scale. But this time is different; I don’t look down at the numbers. Instead I turn around and cautiously get into the shower and turn on the water. I smile as I enjoy the feeling of the warm water running over my body.

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