Learning to Dance in the Schizophrenic Symphony

by Meghan Kahlig
(San Antonio, Texas, USA)

Bouncing, bouncing, bouncing, erratic yet constantly rhythmic, his heavy leg fluttered so quickly it is was as if a puppet master had threaded an invisible string to his thigh. His movements controlled, in a patronizing way, that perfectly exhibited the utter futility that my father had over his sporadic movements, harsh words, and even his incoherent and muddled thoughts.

Every Wednesday, while grudgingly approaching the barter line designated as the McDonald’s parking lot, my older sister, Erynn, and I climbed into his truck with tear stained faces and trembling hands. Through the bewildered eyes of a child, I viewed him with confusion and disdain as my mom pried me off of her and handed me to the shell of a father that I had. I felt disgust for his lack of control and the garbled nonsense that tumbled out of his mouth. Consequently, an immeasurable amount of anger was nettled underneath my skin and so, as a frustrated four year old, I commenced the long journey towards piecing together the intricate jigsaw puzzle that is my father.

I’ve always had an insatiable desire to uncover answers. I craved a means of understanding the hazy confusion that was my father. I frequently questioned our therapist that scheduled our visitations on the matter and was mechanically fed the same answer, “It’s because he’s sick Meghan.” If he was sick then why did he never take his medicine? My therapist danced around the question, exasperated, insisting I might understand when I was older. I was not content with her diluted answers, so I subconsciously resorted to apathy.

I packed away the feelings in boxes until they were hidden far enough away not to hurt me anymore. I knew that if I let the pain surface, even for a moment, the terrible reality would cascade down on me: my father is a paranoid schizophrenic. Consequently, I spent my childhood battling between feelings of indifference and anger. Independence enveloped me as I made certain I never needed his help or assistance with anything. I could accomplish whatever I set my mind to and lacking a “dad” would never inhibit me.

I have now matured into the realm of adulthood, and I continue to be the independent and strong-willed girl that I was at four years old. The shield that I expertly constructed to prevent myself from getting hurt, however, has gradually begun to crumble. I cannot pinpoint the exact moment when my walls first began to fall down. I did not have an epiphany or a grand moment of realization. Instead, it’s been a very gradual and slow process. The way that I perceive my father and my childhood is now dramatically different. My eyes no longer view the world in terms of black and white and scrambled puzzle pieces. I have learned that sometimes the world cannot yield clear cut answers and that’s okay. I understand now that the medicine I used to believe could cure him is far from a cure. On the medicine he is a numb, sedated individual unable to feel and experience. Off his medicine he is conflicted with auditory hallucinations and delusions.

I see my father approximately three times a year at family gatherings. With glazed eyes that match my own he approaches me, we shake hands, he mumbles an inaudible murmur, and backs away like a cornered dog. He’s gotten worse. I now view him with an emotion stronger than anger, a mixture of sympathy and sadness. He never asked for this disease or wished it upon his now broken family. It was the outcome that my family was forced to deal with. He is not the enemy and never has been. My father fell victim to a mental illness that forever handicapped his ability to be my dad. It will never be an easy concept for me to cope with, but now that I have begun to force down the walls cemented with grudges and anger that I for so long held up around me, I feel that I have and will become an even stronger person.

Comment from your friendly team at College Financial Aid Advice

Thank you Meghan for sharing your personal story. I believe this has made you a stronger person. Good luck.

The Climb

Erin, Fort Myers, FL, USA

Overcoming Obstacles Personal Essay - Sample College Essay

Playing on soccer field is where my comfort level is, school is my nightmare. I started in private school and was told I needed to leave because I was not “smart enough and couldn’t stay focused”.

So I was moved to nearby public school, I was always in the lower level classes. In 4th grade I was diagnosed with ADD which is a learning disability, I had a awful time paying attention in class, remembering homework, forgetting what I did pay attention too, on test there was never enough time for me to finish them. There is plenty of medication that is available to be to help the ADD. The thought though of having to take medicine because I had a disability, scared me at young age because I thought there was something wrong with me.

I fought my parents on taking the medication, when entering middle school at Cypress Lake Middle school the top public middle school in the County; my grades really took a toll. My parents got me a new medication and forced me to take it, the medication made me feel sick, my personality was dramatic change. So we experimented with others pills, yes they helped and teachers noticed a difference in my behavior in class, I was still failing some classes, because of my insecurity and lack of sleep which was a side effected from medicine for ADD. I was embarrassed to take a “pill” like I was sick or something. I didn’t understand…in 8th grade I decided that I didn’t want to fail classes in high school. So I got the courage to talk to my doctor and started some new dosages new medication. My grades improved dramatically, I got a 6 which is a perfect score on FCAT writes which gave me confidence, but even though your on medication when you have a learning disability it doesn’t make the ADD disappear.

Entering High School at South Fort Myers High School a new public high school by my house, I couldn’t contain myself I was excited. I was finally put into normal classes because of my average FCAT scores. Which gave me confidence for once in school. I was involved in school I played varsity soccer as a freshman, I was leading goal scorer and I ran for vice president and won. My grades were decent I thrived in English and Biology. But for the first time in my life I didn’t have a social life. I was not fitting in at my new high school I had friends but there were graduating, it wasn’t the high school experience I wanted I came home crying everyday. I was frustrated in my classes because I finally overcame struggling in school and I wanted to learn but my classmates felt differently they were disruptive with bad behavior it was worrying me because the teacher would spend more time trying to control them then explain the lesson, so I still struggled in some of my more difficult classes. Finally I convinced my mom to let me switch schools! I couldn’t get into Fort Myers which is the top public high school in town and all my friends attended there, I asked her about the private school in town called Bishop Verot Catholic High Schools it is in the top 50 catholic schools in the nations. It was $10,000 a year, my parents just got a divorce and that was out of the question and not in our budget but I begged her to just look into it. To stop me from nagging she did.

We visited the school, to make me happy. We sat down with the school consoler she went over my files and said you have a learning disability. I replied “yes” with confidence. She goes “well that’s’ great because we have a learning resource program here, and from your records you are eligible for the Mckay scholarship and with our financial aid we should be able to give you a good package. My mom could cover the rest she said surprisingly, I was to start at Verot in 4 days.

I walked in not knowing a single a soul. I made friends instantly I was astonished by the end of the week not one kid back talked or disrupted the class. Everything was perfect except for my grades. I couldn’t keep up they were too fair ahead and I was fretting. They moved me out Spanish 2 and chemistry. Two major classes I was put into the lower level science class and I begged them to not put me in the lower math too. So my sophomore year I struggled to keep a 70 in math and , again I was in the lower classes. I wasn’t going to let my ADD old me back. I worked hard, harder then every before I went to tutoring everyday. I was balancing competitive soccer, along with high school soccer I made the varsity team and started, and school along with my fathers cocaine addiction. I had a lot going on. But I pushed harder then ever that year. And got myself back on track. I entered all regular classes my junior and senior year at bishop Verot, I still continue to go to tutoring everyday and I have earned myself a 3.0 GPA, a 21 on my ACTs and my hard work in soccer has given me the opportunity to play college soccer. I’m still determined to do more.

My ADD was huge struggle I over came. I am proud of myself and who I am, I am not embarrassed and I embrace my disability and I’m ready to see what I can do in college. Nothing can hold me back now. I will take my dedication and hard work to see where my talents take me for my future where I can impact others in my work force to do the same.

Comment from your friendly team at College Financial Aid Advice

Thank you Erin for sharing your sample college essay about overcoming obstacles. Your hard work and determination will pay off for you later in life. There are college scholarships and programs out there for students with ADD and other learning disabilities. Good luck.

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