Broken Mind, Injured Heart
The story of a struggling girl
November 7, 2017
Being depressed and being an overachiever mixes just about as well as toothpaste and orange juice in the morning. Being someone who is in all advanced classes because she is “smart” but constantly does things that are bad for her mental health is ironic in its own twisted way. She has dreams of a Big 10 college, a master’s degree, and a great career, but her mind is trying to drag her away, and it’s heartbreaking. Bottom line? Living is hard.
If you’re in band, you may know me as one of those girls who quit even though she was talented. If you’re in theatre, maybe you know me as the girl who stopped auditioning my senior year. Others may know me as the girl who doesn’t do her homework. Some of my friends know me as the girl who “isn’t trying” or who never shows up to school anymore. Other friends know me as the girl who is struggling. If absolutely nothing else, you probably know me as Mr. Puhse’s kid. But, who am I really?
I’m Caitlyn Puhse, and I’m the girl who doesn’t know what she’s doing. You can catch me in the hallway looking like every other high schooler: walking and talking with friends, carrying a backpack, hurrying to my next class before the bell rings. So, what makes me so different?
About a year ago, I had the top seat in band, was constantly on the stage, and was maintaining great grades. That is, until I started to have frequent panic attacks and I was so stressed and depressed that I shut down and stopped functioning. If you think that sounds like it would be difficult, you aren’t even close. It was exhausting, terrifying, and infuriating. In the back of my mind, I knew the not-so-distant future was plagued with decisions: decisions I would be forced to make in order to help myself. How will I choose what to do? What happens if I make the wrong choice? Does it even matter?
The day I went in and broke the news to Mr. Roberds was bittersweet. I knew I was bettering myself and headed on to the long road to recovery, but the price was leaving my passion for the arts behind.
I wish I could say that it didn’t affect me. I wish I could say that I didn’t cry.
But I did.
The first day of band camp, I got to sleep in. I woke up and instantly felt misplaced. I had an internal tug-of-war between my heart and mind. It was a stalemate. No victor, only a broken spirit.
My ears burned as I heard the announcement for the homecoming show auditions. I felt ashamed, and although nobody noticed anything, I still held my head low. I promised myself that I wouldn’t cry this time. I would be stronger…I lied. I was broken up inside and I couldn’t even hide it from myself.
A sword went right through my chest every time someone congratulated me on winning a state championship for band. I didn’t have the heart to tell most people that I wasn’t even in it. I just smiled and thanked them.
On the outside looking in, it’s easy to say that I’m okay. What does she even have to be sad about? She’s smart, she has friends. Sounds to me like she just wants attention. The truth is, I want the opposite of attention. I avoid eye contact every time I miss first hour or show up a minute late because I just couldn’t find the motivation to get up. I know that I will be met with snide comments. Oh wow, you actually showed up to school today. You’re late again, good job. I know that people don’t realize the effect these comments have on me, but each bad look or comment about ‘not trying’ makes me feel like I’m being kicked in the jaw and I’m already down on the floor. Each passing day is made harder by people who just don’t understand what I’m going through. They feel the need to add commentary on the effort they don’t think I’m putting in.
I wish I could tell you that my story has reached its happy ending, but this is real life, and happy endings don’t always exist. As I write this, I am sitting at home on a Wednesday trying to catch up on mountains of missed school work and even more ignored homework assignments. Am I proud of it? Absolutely not. Am I working to get better? Little by little, and eventually, I will be as close to normal as I once was. I know it will take time, support, and motivation, but right now I don’t have a lot of any of these.
So, if this is such a sad story, why am I writing an article about it? Aren’t stories supposed to have nice endings? Not always, but I hope there is one inspirational thing you can take from this. If you are reading this, and you understand what I’m talking about: how I’m feeling, the struggles I’m experiencing. Know that you are not alone. You will persevere, just as I am doing, and will continue to do. It is okay to be sad. It is okay to cry. It is okay to feel broken. Just remember that there is always someone there for you if you need it, you just have to reach out and ask. But, most importantly, you will find your light at the end of the tunnel. And when you find it, reach out for it and don’t lose your focus. There is another side, and you will get there, one step at a time.