A couple of months ago, I wrote a post about my experience with the stress of high school and overwhelming nature of teenager-dom. I said I'd post the second portion the following day, but.... you know how life is. :)
My inability as a teenager to cope with life led to a decision to leave behind the halls of Tuscaloosa County High School. I'll pick up where we left off.
Sitting in the psychologist's chair that afternoon, I was angry and frustrated, but also relieved that the worst part was over. I'd had enough with school and was tired of crying all day and leaving school offered the chance for me to finally breathe a sigh of relief. What I did not know, however, was that my time to breathe was about to be cut very, very short.
After talking with me for a while, the psychologist turned her attention to my parents. She suggested that I needed to go back to school. I remember feeling instantly betrayed and this feeling would last for months. She was supposed to be helping me, but she wanted to send me back to the source of all of my stress and frustration! But, she didn't want to send me back alone. Her idea was for me to return to high school and continue therapy with her and for me to see a psychiatrist to get medication that would go with me everywhere... medication that was to make my life "more bearable."
My parents did not immediately take her advice. But just six days after I withdrew from school, my parents forced me to go back to get reinstated. I was 100% absolutely positively not on board with this plan whatsoever. I was so angry with my parents and remember saying some wretchedly horrid things to them that I will not repeat here. What I know now is that my parents' hearts were broken for me and the words I said hurt them deeply. But, no matter how many ugly things I said or how hard I cried, my parents fully believed that going back to school would be best for me. So, they pressed on and put me back in school.
Now, at 25 years old, I can say that I am incredibly thankful that they did this. I have, of course, apologized a thousand times for the harsh words I used and they, of course, have forgiven me. I was terrified of going back to school and, in my fright, I tried everything I could to get them to change their minds. When I have children of my own, I hope God brings this reminder to me when my children begin to defy my authority: Parents must stand their ground when they know they are doing what is best for their child... and any anger, animosity, or hurt will be extinguished by the grace of God over time.
My first day back at school was difficult, needless to say. But, I was also surprised with the reaction I received upon my return. As I was in the counselor's office, my tenth grade psychology teacher walked by and stopped in, saying how happy he was to see me back at school. Going back into my first period class was nerve-wracking. I thought I was going to be bombarded with stares and questions, but instead, I was greeted by an unexpected group of students who I ended up sitting with for the rest of the semester (and became good friends with!). To answer everyone's anticipated "why?", I decided just to say that I had been "very, very sick" but that I was now well enough to return to school. Very few of them actually knew that I had withdrawn from school. Most of them just thought I had been absent.
The following weeks were interesting... school was finally getting better, as my friends slowly began to better understand what I was facing. I was taking Celexa, an anti-depressant, and rapidly lost weight. My moods were becoming more stable, but it seemed like I was constantly in a very mellow, nonchalant mood. I was having lots of fun and acting like a teenager should (bubbly and happy), but I remember feeling exhausted after being around people for too long. It took energy for me to act "normal". But, things were really getting better at school. Friends (who knew the full extent of the situation) came out of the woodworks to support me and to spend time with me. It mean the world to me to know that my friends really did care about me and were taking the extra step to show how much they cared.
Around mid-March of that year, I remember that I was feeling much better. I was doing well in my classes, except for one... and that teacher practically passed me as long as I attempted the work. It was morally wrong, but it was what I needed at the time (it was Algebra II... and guess what, now I am a math whiz, so all things work out in time!). I started feeling confident again - something I hadn't felt in a very long time.
My friends dared me to ask out a guy I'd had a crush on since the first day of 10th grade... and we ended up dating and going to prom! It was AWESOME. I thought I was living in a dream! Towards the end of the semester, my new friends in English class convinced me to run for Senior Class Treasurer and told all their friends to vote for me... it was hysterical! I decided at the LAST minute to run and actually did win. Winning wasn't the best part. The best part was those five kids in English who I'd never really been friends with who kept me laughing all semester and showed me that I wasn't as alone as I thought.
While school was getting better, therapy was getting worse. I stopped taking the Celexa without "permission" from the doctor because of how awful it made me feel. And my therapy sessions were going nowhere. The psychologist was trying everything she could to find out what made me "snap" that day, but we never really got to the bottom of anything. It was nice to have someone to open up to and tell everything to, but I think she - well, everyone - missed the bigger point.
The point was that high school was (and still is) stressful! I was overwhelmed and confused and stressed and didn't know how to handle it all. I think I eventually found ways to deal with the stress, mainly by flaking out on classes and not working as hard as I could. :) Oops. Kinda went in the wrong direction there! But, the rest of my junior year and my senior year were incredible! I had so much fun and am so glad that my parents took me back to school, despite my desperate attempts to keep them from doing so. They were right and they are the reason that I made it through that scary time.
Over the years, I have taken away lots of different bits of wisdom from this experience... I could probably write another blog post on what I learned. But, I'll just end with this: There is nothing too big or small for our God. Every time I think about what happened to me in high school, I see how God put together all the pieces so that He would be glorified in the end. From little conversations with friends to having incredible parents... even to silly things like going to prom with my crush. He designed everything to bring me full circle so that I would see just how amazing He is and so that I could tell my story and show how He provided EVERY thing!
John 15:5, "I am the vine, you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."