Building My New Home – Marguerite Harris

FIRST PLACE, Grade 4-6 Division, 2010
Grade 6, Oyster Adams Bilingual School
Teacher: Mr. Paul Gerber

I built a new house this year. My old house was standing. It had a door and a roof but I couldn’t promise that it would stay up for much longer. When I talk about house, I’m talking about myself, my individual strength. This year anxiety took over my life. But in facing my fears I learned how to handle almost anything.

Panic is instant disarray. That’s what my science teacher says before we are about to take a test. I know what he means because when I was panicked I felt like I was drowning with a shark about to rip my head off. My anxiety wasn’t a little fear like being afraid of mice. I was afraid of anything that might happen to my family or me. I was afraid of things that were impossible of really happening. And when I became afraid I would start freaking out and hyperventilating. Most frustrating was that I used to be independent but all of the sudden I always needed my mom with me. I couldn’t go on playdates or sleepovers. I couldn’t even fall asleep at night because I was worrying about the next day. Every day the act of just
going to school was an overwhelming hurdle.

Instead of continuing to pretend to be okay I asked for help. To the world, I was a model daughter and student. I got good grades and was active in sports. Inside I felt like I was dying. I started going to a doctor and that’s when my work really started, or, in other words, that’s when I began to rip apart my house so that I could build a new, more stable one. I learned all these cool techniques. I learned how to breathe when I was panicked. I also named my fear – Leroy – and I learned how to fight back when he was trying to scare me. I started facing small fears, like allowing my parents to leave the house for 30 seconds. And each day, and week, and month, later, I’d tackle bigger challenges. It was hardest in the beginning. Then I started to build supports for my house. In the end it was a piece a cake. I just needed to install the chandelier.

I learned a lot this year. I learned how powerful my mind is. I learned that whatever life brings me, whatever storms I might go through, I have a strong home and all I have to do is breath in and out.