Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Snap (09/04/08)
TITLE: When childhood pressures are too much
By Amanda Gray
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School had always made her anxious. She wasn’t good in crowds. She got disoriented by noise and movement. She was painfully shy.
In the early years she’d get ready slowly, with butterflies in her tummy. Often she would cry. She’d refuse to eat breakfast, complain of sickness, but eventually, reluctantly get to school. She didn’t want to get in trouble.
Spelling tests were torture, and often ended in tears. The teacher went too fast. She had no time to think. She hated getting anything wrong. She’d try to hide and shrink. But at the end she’d always came out shaken, bruised and drained.
But Kelly was a good student. She always got good grades. She wasn’t popular, but wasn’t bullied. She was only invisible.
She learnt to hide the churning inside. She learnt to cope with being alone.
But it was getting harder now she was facing school’s last years. The future was hovering over her, with all of its hopes and fears. Her achievements, failures, actions now would see her crash, or make a splash in life as an adult.
She tried to work harder, but she was so tired. She tried to push, but she was losing the fight.
“What’s the use? I’ll only fail. I need time out! I want to bale!”
Things were spinning out of control. She needed to stop. She was finding it hard to hold against the tide of rising anxiety. She couldn’t concentrate. She couldn’t stay awake. She wanted help, but couldn’t ask. She didn’t want to fail.
And then there was the test.
It was just a practice exam. A rehearsal for the real one. But for Kelly it was enough. It sent her spiralling, spinning, plunging, plummeting over the edge.
Her resilience had been stretched and frayed, and under pressure it bounced and swayed. But then just gave way.
She stayed in bed. She couldn’t get up. The butterflies had exploded. The room was spinning, her head was screaming. She shivered, fatigued, she refused to eat. She refused to go to school.
The struggle was no longer invisible.
But Kelly was loved. Her cry was heard. First crushed by the guilt of missing past signs, her parents moved on and invested their time.
They took their daughter’s skin and bones to doctors, counsellors. They worked together, found new goals, and teachers to empower in her.
Now Kelly is coping, after bringing her struggles to light. Now she is facing an acknowledged, affirmed fight.
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