My Testimony Rough Draft
I recently acquired my high school diploma after failing my senior year of high school a year and a half ago. I was diagnosed with ADHD in the first grade. I was medicated and got by successfully with A’s, B’s and an occasional C until the seventh grade. My parents grew increasingly concerned with their son being medicated and they thought it best that I learn how to cope without medication. I barely succeeded in passing the first quarter, although I put a lot of effort into getting by. I became frustrated with myself and my grades slowly dropped into C’s and D’s. My father graduated from the United States Naval Academy with a bachelors’ in Aerospace engineering. He was diagnosed with ADHD the year I was tested. He got by without medication and thought that I was just as capable. He was intolerant and disappointed when my behavior led to detentions week after week for calling out, talking, coming unprepared or some other behavior not suitable for classroom learning. My academics slipped into the realm of disgraceful. ‘You’ll be flipping burgers at this rate. You’re not even trying. You’re so smart all you need to do is try a little.’ I was incredibly frustrated with myself. I’m a failure. I’m a mess-up. My brain doesn’t work right. I’d given up trying to do homework. It was impossible. My brain would blank. I could sit there for hours staring at the paper accomplishing little more than putting my name at the top. My frustrations led to emotional discontent and eventually depression and self-mutilation. I’d given up. I thought that I was a failure and eventually entertained the real possibility of suicide. My detentions added up to suspensions which were leading to the real possibility of expulsion. My best friend and I confided in each other our self disappointment. We struggled similarly at home and in the classroom. Suspension after suspension-he was also pending the real possibility of expulsion. We made a pact that if either of us were to be expelled we would kill ourselves. In May I was suspended for the final time and was pending an expulsion. “I’ll let you know what does gonna happen. If you don’t hear from me I’m going to hang myself.” I told him as I waved goodbye in the parking lot. My father was in China for business. Hearing the news my mother was frantic and devastated. She went to the school dean and relentlessly pleaded that I be allowed to finish up the year. They left it up to the teachers to vote. Unanimously they voted for me to finish up the last month. Excited that my educational future wasn’t over due to this expulsion I phoned him immediately upon hearing the news. His mother picked up. She wasn’t a fan of our friendship. We brought each other down.
“Is Joe there?”
“I don’t know where he is. I’ll tell him you called.”
I wasn’t good for him.
The next day an early morning phone call caused awkward vibes throughout the house. My mother sent everyone off to school but me. She sat me down and informed me that my best friend had died last night. He had hung himself. I immediately broke down and lost all hope. I was plagued depression. My parents transferred me to a public school to finish up the year. That summer I was hospitalized for severe depression and medicated with antidepressants. They resumed ADHD medication and I passed eighth grade doing the minimum to get by. I was more about looking to fit in than exploring any of my passions and interests. I was still frustrated with my mind and the lack of control I seemed to have over it, but being medicated made things easier despite. The anxiety the medication gave me proved to a struggle in deciding whether it offered more positives than negatives. My freshman year of high school looked to offer a new start. The first month I was hyper-focused and on top of my studies. I wanted to succeed and do well. I wanted to go to college and prove to everyone that I am intelligent and capable of being brilliant. I talked with my advisor and worked out that I take all honors classes. I applied for all the schools clubs such as the Key club and SADD. I successfully ran for student council and class president. I was even chosen to represent the Liaison Committee and the schools first Renaissance Program as freshman representative. In Addition I played junior varsity soccer and excelled in swimming for the varsity team. I still struggled in school academically and achieved mediocre grades despite my potential. I found it nearly impossible to do homework. My parents thought public school offered too many negative influences and distractions that were hindering me. My father knew the importance of a structured environment. I tested into the all boys military boarding school Valley Forge Military Academy and after meeting with the swim team coach was accepted and enrolled my sophomore year. They required that I be removed from my antidepressants upon arrival and was to be eventually removed from my ADHD medication after I was accustomed to the structure. I did very well my first semester. A week before my midterms I was removed from my ADHD medication. I lost my mind. I could not study. I could not sit still. I wanted to bang my head against the wall the entire week. I could not memorize. I felt like my mind stopped working. I took the midterm and got D’s and C’s with the help and forgiveness of my teachers. The next semester I struggled heavily to pass with C’s. The structure and regimen kept me afloat where I would’ve otherwise drowned. I opted that I be put back in public school with the notions that the academics of that school were for a different type of person. My junior year I attended public school once more without medication. I big step down from VFMA, and I had the pleasure of skating through the first semester, just passing by. A close childhood friend, with whom I grew up with and still went to school with, committed suicide that December, causing me to lose all focus in my endeavors and academics. This catapulted me into a spiral of depression once more. My academics dropped into D’s and F’s and I became increasingly depressed and unsatisfied with myself. I felt that I was not going to amount to anything. I was hospitalized and dropped out of school February my junior year due to severe depression and suicidal ideations. I returned home that May and was tutored at home in all classes but English to catch up where I had missed. I had the potential. They passed me. I moved to Florida my senior year. I moved from a small quite suburban town in New Jersey with class sized of a hundred students to a metropolis in Palm Beach Florida with class sizes of eight hundred or more. My class schedule still reflected that of a successful high school student. I was in Calculus AB, AP Biology, Anatomy and Physiology Honors, English Honors IV, English Honors III, Jazz Band and Economics. I decided to not due sports for fear of not being able to focus on academics- and chose to abandon swimming, the sport in which I excelled in and competed in at state levels. Try as I might I could no longer skate by. I had gone throughout high school purely on the ability to do what I had to do to get by, and the forgiveness my teachers offered due to the potential they knew I had. I started ADHD medication once more with the hope that I just had one more year to go. I continued self-medication to escape from the mounting pressures through substance abuse. My parents knew this and refused to see me take drugs on top of drugs. They decided to strip me of any crutch that would help me. The academic pressures mounted exponentially as the first few months of school progressed and new material was presented. I slowly was forced to drop unnecessary classes one by one starting with Calculus, then AP Biology, and eventually downgrading to Standard English III. This allowed me to focus on the core classes needed for graduation. School made me bored. No matter how hard I tried I felt that it was nearly impossible to juggle the remaining classes. I failed maintain focus, to turn papers in, to stay awake in class, to read books, despite the stifled overwhelming desire I had inside myself to succeed, to learn, to understand and acquire knowledge. I wanted to go to college. I wanted to study great things. I reached a point where graduating high school was the highest goal I set for myself. That soon vanished and I gave up entirely going to classes. I did drugs and hung out with friends instead. My teachers were alarmed and they saw me slip into frustration. I promised myself never to be depressed again, not to let it get to me, just not to care at all. So that’s what I did. I stopped caring and eventually I failed out. I was kicked out of my house by May and binged on drugs due to disappointment. Homeless, I wandered from house to house getting high and wondering what was left of me. I hit bottom soon thereafter. I got in touch with my parents. They offered the only way I come home is if I enroll into a drug rehabilitation program. I saw my life crumbling all around me and my future was dark and dismal. The last thing I wanted was hospitalization and therapy, something I’d gone to multiple times in my past. I made a promise to myself and to my parents to never to return to drugs as an outlet for my frustrations and disappointments. I stopped drugs and severed myself from the old life I lived. I got a job and made new friends. No diploma and no hopes of going to college I drifted the next few months partying and getting by. I entertained the idea of being a personal fitness trainer as a career since I was a guru into health and wellness since the middle school. I no longer used drugs to escape, but rather as a periodic social entry. I partied, stayed out late and lucratively spend my money. My parents wanted nothing to do with supporting this behavior. I wasn’t like my parents. I was different in my eyes. I wasn’t that person they always thought I could be. I didn’t care what they thought about me. I am who I am. Love me or hate me. I was kicked out of my house on New Years due to this behavior. The next three months I lived with a close friend free of charge. I continued to party it up and live life to the fullest. All I had was a job serving tables with my friend. No car, no money and no education. I felt pathetic for living with a friend in his house, a free room and a free ride to work. How did I ever get here? How do I ever get myself out of this situation? The realizations of life left me feeling challenged and helpless. The mounting guilt caused me to search deep inside myself. My mother gave me a book for Valentines Day that year titled “As a Man Thinketh” by James Allen. I read is with an open heart and an open mind. I was struck deeply. ‘Your thoughts birth your actions; your actions birth your circumstances.’ I looked at my circumstances and realized I could not blame anyone else. I needed to put faith into myself and think of things that will put me in a place where I could succeed. I worked with myself and my conceived ideas I had about my parents. I realized I could be where I wanted to be without them. I still had no idea where I was going. My interest and passions were as deep as they were wide, but I knew that the easiest way to find my calling was with my parents support. I moved home and promised to follow their rules no matter what I thought about it. I began reading and searching for more books that provided some insight on personal development much like “As a Man Thinketh” had done. Slowly through much perseverance and determination I gained a renewed faith in myself. I read books from authors such as John Maxwell, Stephen Convey, Michael Hall, Dale Carnegie, Vincent Normal Peale, Claude Bristol and Anthony Robbins. I had realizations and revelations regarding concepts such as ‘self-sacrifice’ and ‘failing does not make you a failure, rather each failure is a stepping stone to success.’ Self discipline became a close friend of mine. I know I can do whatever I put my mind to. Eliminate distractions, put myself around those who are going the direction I want to go, and keep my mind on the prize. Graduating High school was my first objective. I made my mind up that education was not a bad thing and with a renewed sense of sense of self worth and faith in my abilities, I wanted to use college as a tool to help educate me and further my understanding in whatever field I chose. I went my old guidance counselor and explained that I would do whatever it took in order to graduate high school. Despite poor class attendance and my poor grades I managed to pass all my classes for the year with the exception of American Government, a half a year class that I failed due to poor attendance. I enrolled in the High schools adult education program and successfully passed American Government with an A and finally earning my High School Diploma. I’m currently looking forward to attending a college that will offer me the best tools needed for further personal success.