Back to the hospital. After running all the tests, I was declared medically well. They couldn’t find any reason for the repeated episodes of throwing up. I listened carefully to the doctor as he explained that I was likely throwing up because of “stress”.
I didn’t know what that meant, and neither did my parents. I was sent home with instructions to come back to the pediatrician the next time I felt bad to see if they could pinpoint anything by studying me when I was actually sick.
We did that once. I made it halfway to the doctor’s before my daddy had to pull over and let me get sick on the side of the road. We drove back home in silence, with me feeling worse than ever. The doctors had said nothing was wrong with me, so now I went to school, sick or not.
I remember finally reaching a crisis point my freshman year. That was the year we took Mr. Vaughn for biology, and the honor roll would have one, maybe two students on it for the entire ninth grade. Biology was hard, and the teacher took seriously the notion that if you got an A, you earned it. I studied like I never had to before, and still wound up with an 89.9 average my first nine weeks—not high enough for the honor roll.
By midyear, I was now undergoing serious depression. My entire self-worth was based on making high grades, and I was failing at that. My parents were making me study every night for biology, giving me a hatred of the sciences that lasts to this day. The teacher no longer made out a key to grade tests—he took my paper and used it to grade other papers. I might could make an A by now on the first grading, but if he found another student who gave a better answer than I did, he would count of two, three or five points off of my paper, depending on his mood. The teasing had reached whole new levels, with older students, particularly boys, now picking on me in hopes of making me cry.
I began thinking about suicide at fourteen. I didn’t know how I would go about it, but I wanted to die. I had been baptized at age 10 and believed that heaven would be my eternal home. I kept thinking about the scene in Tom Sawyer where everyone was sad when they thought Tom had died in a boating accident. I wanted to run away from home and let everyone think I was dead. Then they’d be sorry for how they treated me, I thought.