Dear Mesmerizing Meg: Every day when I wake up, I’m already tired. I get over 8 hours of sleep a night with a nap after school hours. I got diagnosed with clinical depression around a year ago and was prescribed antidepressants which made me feel pathetic for taking, so I stopped. I tried taking an antidepressant around 5 months ago when I got desperate for any sort of help, and all it did was make me sick and throw up in my mouth. Lately, I’m getting desperate again to take another one but I’m deathly afraid of vomiting. I go to virtual school, and this lack of energy means lack of progress. Then, when I get super behind, I have no motivation to get caught up, and then I get punished by my principal and parents. I don’t know what to do. I feel out of control. I’ve tried using a planner, I sit at the kitchen table 8 hours a day but still accomplish nothing. The guilt for not doing anything is even worse. Everybody just thinks I’m doing nothing out of choice, when in reality I just feel like I have a cloud over my head that won’t go away. I genuinely would do anything at this point to be able to get motivated. Not even the thought of being held back makes me motivated to do anything. It just makes me sad, scared, and hate myself. I’m too ashamed to bring this up to my principal too, so as far as she knows I’m just a lousy, lazy student.
Kind querent: Which antidepressant made you throw up in your mouth? I had that issue with a generic drug once, and when I told the doctor, he insisted that the pharmacy give me the name-brand variety. Another option would be to take a different antidepressant altogether. Please be open with doctors about how the one in particular makes you ill, and see what they say. It doesn’t make you at all pathetic to take meds. If you had diabetes, you’d take insulin, right?
I also think you need to go to regular brick-and-mortar school. You’re not motivated or self-guided enough for virtual school, so you need to go back to real school. Discuss options with your parents, and explain to them that staying home and studying all day isn’t working out. Maybe a small private school would be a good fit for you. I’m sure your parents and your principal would be happier to work with you toward finding solutions than punish you. Home-schooling isn’t for everyone, although I certainly had high fantasies about it at your age.
If you can arrange to take a new antidepressant (or the first one you were taking) and arrange to get back into a physical schoolbuilding, then you will have taken positive action toward change. You can do it!
Dear Mesmerizing Meg: I’m terrified of heights! When I was six, my family and I were stuck on a rollercoaster for an hour and a half. To this day I freak out when friends and family make me ride coasters to “help me get over my fear”, but it does the opposite. My girlfriend moved to Indiana with her mom at the beginning of senior year and she wants to go to prom there, but since we’ve been dating since sophomore year she doesn’t want to go with anyone else or go alone. She flew here and surprised me as my homecoming date, so I would feel bad if I didn’t do this for her. But I’m not ready to be on an airplane. And since negative things like malfunctions have been in national news recently my fear has gotten worse. My aunt suggested I try hypnotherapy, my grandpa says I should have a few drinks at the airport bar (I’m not old enough) and a friend who is also afraid of heights, but travels for work says he takes a sleep pill and asks the stewardess to wake him up. A direct flight is about three hours which isn’t bad just expensive. It would be a sixteen-hour drive, but my mom is worried about me making that long drive by myself especially to a place I’ve never been. Flying is the best choice. Anyone have any tips or suggestions? Do stewardesses really have sleep pills? What do I need to know?
Kind querent: Oh, wow. True enough, phobias are born when something scary happens at that exact age! Go figure. Whatever’s going on developmentally at the age of six means that any sort of scary experience could lead to a phobia.
Here are the facts: stewardesses (and I think they prefer to be called flight attendants) don’t have sleeping pills on hand. What you’d need to do would be to keep some in your carry-on bag. You’re a teenager, so here are some easy options for getting pills:
- Go to your doctor and explain the situation.
- Buy supplements over the counter.
Keep in mind that most supplements won’t put you to sleep, but they will relax you. Do not under any circumstance get a window seat. No reason to be a hero. Supplements I’d recommend would be L-Theanine, which you can get at a supplement shop or at Amazon. L-Theanine is the potent ingredient in green tea that makes you feel woozy when you drink the stuff. And it’s available in capsule form! Yay. I’ve had good luck with it. I packed some on my latest flights for travel stress, and the stuff is very helpful.
Another thing to keep in mind is that being on a plane doesn’t feel like being high up. I mean, you are high up, but it feels like you’re riding on a cramped bus. I’m afraid of heights myself, but only when I’m out in the open. Being on a plane is actually sort of fun and adventuresome, but it’s not as scary as, say, being in a hot-air balloon.
Also, you can hide under your jacket and not look, if need be. People will think you’re sleeping. And if you mention to your seat mates that you’re acrophobic and ask them to close the window covering, they probably will. Planes have tiny little windows that it’s hard to see out of.
I wouldn’t recommend driving sixteen hours. That’s extreme, especially if it’s one-way. More tips: if you do get put by the window, tell the flight attendants that you’re afraid of heights, and they’ll probably move you. Also, don’t pressure yourself into going. I think your girlfriend will understand if you can’t make it!