Being a parent is hard, I also know that being a teen today might be harder, and for that my empathy grows even stronger for them. We look into their eyes and sometimes our only wish is that we knew what they are thinking, or at least I do.
My son completed his final essay for English class last week. This was the one assignment that stood between him and summer vacation. Honestly, I just needed him to put something on the damn paper and submit it; I didn’t care how much of a piece of crap it was, as long as he did it. Online learning in a house of Adhd slow processors was not our friend, and we just wanted it to end.
He finished it and asked me to email it to his teacher and like all good mother’s I figured I would read it to gauge the load of crap he threw onto the paper. After I read it, my head dropped, through he words I was able to understand his experiences. I suspect every person will draw something different from his essay, for me it was understanding. With his permission, I have put the essay below. I encourage you to take 5 minutes read it if you want to understand what goes through the mind of a teenager with social anxiety, adhd, and a processing issue. It has taken almost two years but reading his essay and seeing his view point were priceless.
Quarantine Struggles to Quarantine Success
My life during quarantine has not changed a lot on the surface. But you can’t tell what is happening if you only look at the top of the water. Below, there are things happening, and in order to understand, you have to go deeper.
Life Before: challenges, emotions, frustration
Every day now feels like Groundhog Day, in both a good and bad way. Before Covid-19,I would wake up late and struggle to get myself together, and then I would sleepily shuffle to the bus stop. I would then purposely go to the back of the bus to have an entire row to myself to sleep. I got myself another 20 minutes of sleep on the bus before I arrived at Farmington. I would fight to stay awake in class, and often I would lose that fight.
I was pretty lonely at school and didn’t have many friends, but lunch was the highlight of my day because it was the one opportunity during the day that I felt slightly comfortable talking to people. Lunch was over and then spent the rest of the day messing around, trying not to do my work, and figure out ways that I could leave early. School for me made me feel like an outcast. I didn’t have friends, this was my first semester, and I was new to Utah, I felt like a black sheep. I never had time to make friends or to figure out who I was and what I was going to do. I didn’t know my role in this new community. I felt so overwhelmed I just shut down and ignored everyone. I felt like; if I could ignore it, it may go away. Most of my friends in other states continued to live their lives, and I was on the sidelines. I saw their social media and wished I was with them. I felt like I was missing out on their fun things, and I felt left out.
My mornings are still hard. They haven’t changed too much. They haven’t changed how I felt about school, but my mornings now look different. Now I sleep in until 10\12ish or until my mother screams up the stairs to my room,” Edwardddddd, get up” I am not so exhausted anymore, and I still don’t do anything productive, but my anxiety has gone down, and I have been told I am a different and happier person.
Life After: Peace, clarity, contentment
I have always felt a sense of missing out on things before COVID-19, but now most people are missing out on things, so I know I am not actually missing out on anything. Before COVID knew how to be by myself, but I didn’t like it because I felt like I didn’t have a choice. Now, I am still alone, but it feels different because I have been focusing on my animals. I have ducks, chickens, horses, goats, mules, and llamas in my backyard, and I have been focusing on them, and they make me feel good about myself. It is interesting to recognize that to them; nothing has changed. They don’t know about COVID; they don’t know about the changes in the world; they still just eat their grass, and walk around the same as always. Their stability has helped me. I still don’t have people to talk to, but I have animals to interact with, and their attitude helps me.
Since COVID-19, according to my family, I am a more enjoyable person to be around and interact with. There is very little hostility between me, my parents, and my brother. It seems counter-intuitive that all this time together would make us closer, it seems like many people are fighting more. But we have bonded, and we are more productive now. My relationship with my brother has improved. Since we are the only ones who can see each other, all of this time with him has made us closer brothers and friends. I feel happier, and there is less pressure on me, and it’s better for my mental health.
I have been able to focus on personal things; the school took up so much time before. The free time helps, it clears my mind and allows me to focus on me. One of my new favorite activities is to walk around the neighborhood. I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I had almost forgotten that this was a new home for me, and now I see things that I didn’t see before.
It is also nice to get more movement in. I had stopped moving and became inactive unless I was forced to. The forcing made it difficult to move and not fun. But now, when it is my choice, I enjoy it more. I have begun to skateboard more, and I really enjoy it. I am getting a little better, but that’s not what it is about. It provides me freedom, fun, and is easier than walking around. I have more time to talk to my friends. It is nice to connect and be involved with each other. No one is hanging out or doing anything, so I know I am not missing out as much, and I still get to connect with them.
I have taken a step back; it has helped me realize what I need to do to be successful in the future. I now know I need a support system, I need people to be with me, to help me, and to teach me. In the past, I thought I could do it myself; I didn’t think I needed help from anybody. I thought I could do it all on my own. In some ways, the losses from COVID-19 have made it clear that we all need to rely on others.
I know my life will be easier if I take the help that is offered. COVID-19 has been hard. It has challenged me, but I have realized that a little distance is actually a good thing. In the future, I will use it as a tool to better myself instead of insisting that it is something negative that I must avoid. I now know how to use my free time. I don’t have to waste it anymore by lying around. Interestingly, the abundance made me wiser, instead of wasting it with no direction. The relationship with my family has approved. The removal of stress has cleared us all up, and we are closer than ever. ### E.L.M