Friday, October 16, 2009

Mood Swings

September 6, 1983 Tuesday

Dear Ophelia,

"I finally got done being sore but we had x-country today, (sore tomorrow). Today we did hard exercises then ran a half-mile, then up a hill 5 times (and down). Then did two 100 yard dashes

When we finished I felt really sick. As soon as I got home I fell asleep. I woke at about 8:30pm and had dinner, did my homework and went back to bed. I gotta go, bye Ophelia. Your runner, Jennifer


September 8, 1983 Thursday

Dear Ophelia,
"In x-country today we did exercises then we ran up and down the bleachers 5 times, then ran two 220's. Doesn't sound like much but it was (more to it.)

I'm reading a book called, Go Ask Alice. It's about a girl on drugs. It is kind of sad, gross, very believable and I felt sorry for Alice. It's a true story but anonymous.

I will never ever take drugs in my entire life. Laurel says she does but Cheri, Sha
nnon, Kim and everyone else (friends) doesn't. Alice went through a lot but died. You'll have to read the book. I don't know how you can but please try. I have a copy.

(I have to interject here--Jennifer wants to loan a book to her diary to read??? The line between real and unreal has always been blurry to Jennifer. The diary is her Pinocchio, I think she would give anything to turn Ophelia into a real friend!)

My left calf (leg) hurts a lot for some reason.

I don't like running against people. I always feel like throwing up before x-country because I'm very nervous.

Today we ran to Cardiac Hill an
d ran up three times and did the 'loop' twice then ran back to Wendler. About 4 miles or more. It was hard.

I wish so much I had a boyfriend to kiss and hug and touch. I wouldn't go all the way, just to the neck. I can't help it. I think about it all the time. Especially at night. I c
an't write long today so, bye Ophelia. Love ya, Jennifer. P.S. Cardiac Hill is very steep."

Jennifer was turning into a perfectionist. She was terrified of the one or two girls who could beat her at track and cross-country. She didn't understand that most of the girls were afraid of competing with her! She pressured herself so hard to win that she often threw up before a race. She was also the type of girl to turn to jelly before walking on a stage and to suffer from flop sweat. The fear of failure becomes one of her biggest handicaps.

Go Ask Alice, published 1971

This book was probably not a real diary (according to However, it served as a popular cautionary tale for young girls. Jennifer was fascinated by the book and still owns it. Jennifer vowed not to do drugs. She feels sorry for Alice--and yet her life will soon resemble Alice's life. Why don't cautionary tales work on their intended audiences???

This blog could be viewed as a cautionary tale as it progresses but that is not my intent. They are just that, tales. I hope this blog will help parents understand their troubled child better. Just as youth is wasted on the young, the wisdom that comes from experience is wasted on the inexperienced.

We can't talk our kids out of bad behavior. We have to actively intervene. It's hard work. We can't give up on them. We have to love them enough to descend into their hell with them and force them to drag themselves out. In this blog, we will follow Jennifer into her rabbit hole. We will see what she sees. Maybe, just maybe this will help some parent somewhere find their own lost child.

Friday September 9, 1983

Dear Ophelia,

"Today in last hour I started crying because I always get nervous and afraid before x-country. I felt like quiting. I get so nervous I feel sick. Also, mom has the flu and I almost thought she died. 'She didn't!!!!' I went straight home to see how she was. I didn't go to x-country.

I was crying during 6th hour so my teacher sent me to the bathroom. Another girl came in to see how I was. She said her parents didn't want her and they sent her to a foster home. I feel sorry for her. I don't even know her name! Anyway, I didn't have much homework. I gotta go, so bye Ophelia. Jennifer.

School Schedule 1st Home Ec, Mrs. Gidding, rm 125 2nd Math, Mrs. Whitmoore, rm. 126 3rd Social Studies, Mr. Arashiro
4th English, Mrs. Ahrens 5th P.E., Mr. Armstrong, gym 6th Science, Mr. Mulholland"

Jennifer would have anxiety attacks in the years to come. You can see from her entries about boys that her hormones are racing now--perhaps the anxiety began with puberty. Jennifer is also growing more and more insecure. She can hardly believe that her own mother loves her. She puts lots of pressure on herself in every area of her life. And now, even the practice races with her own team are stressing her. She's finding excuses to skip practice.

September 10, 1983 Saturday

Dear Ophelia,

"I did my Saturday chores.
Joel and I went to Boniface Mall and I bought some candy.

I also went to a garage sale. I couldn't find it though. On my way back on my bike, I decided that from now on I would try to be happy and smile a lot. My muscles don't hurt anymore. I'm just a little scared about x-country. I gotta go, bye Ophelia. Your friend, Jennifer."

This is the beginning of Jennifer making "deals" with herself. In an attempt to control her anxiety and mood swings--she would make pacts to act grown up, or nice, or happy or carefree. She did not feel she fit in anymore.

In general, Jennifer lost her mojo when she moved to Alaska. She had be-bopped through her lazy, California days. She controlled almost everything about her life. She put herself to bed, the maid service cleaned the house, she got herself to school and home, she had plenty of cash for eating out and she rode her bike wherever she needed to go in Foster City. She was the boss of herself. Her father didn't give her any responsibilities and yet she was responsible. She even cared for her pets and other people's pets all on her own.

In Alaska, she became a child once more. She had two parents trying to parent her, she had chores, expectations and responsibilities. Her mom and Jeff wanted things done on their time schedule, not hers. Jennifer resented the interference.

September 11, 1983 Sunday

Dear Ophelia,

"I slept until about 11:00. Mom is feeling a lot better. I don't feel
sick. We were going to McKinley this weekend but mom's sick so we might go next weekend.

Tonight I did exercises and I feel really good about going to cross-country.
I ate some candy so it's very hard to get to sleep. Jeff waxed both cars yesterday. I cleaned my room really well. I gotta run. Bye Ophelia. Your friend, Jennifer. P.S. sorry it's so messy."


September 12, 1983 Monday

"I had math homework, that's all. Electric Avenue is playing on the radio right now.

In x-country today I ran with Cheri all the way to Cardiac Hill. I almost think she was more tired than me. Then we ran the Loop and Cheri was ahead by about 5 yards. Then we ran another loop and 'I beat Cheri'!!! Then we ran a figure 8. Cheri started out in front of me but I passed her and 'Beat her again'!!!!!!!!

Then we ran back to the school together. We were both tired. We kept together all the way back and we beat everybody on the team. We got to the locker room about 20 minutes before the other girls. We beat the guys too.

I feel really good. I think Cheri was a little surprised (I hope). I was surprised when I beat her twice.

Anyway, we had spaghetti for dinner. My homework was easy.
I'm trying hard to remember to smile all the ti
me and be happy. I don't have to fake either 'I am happy'. Your little sunshine, Jennifer."

September 12, 1983, Monday

Jennifer idolized Cheri. Her one goal was to beat her. Jennifer never placed ahead of Cheri at a meet, but she enjoyed the sweet victory of beating her at practice!

The mood swings, the move to Alaska, the new set of parents and the new sport have knocked Jennifer off kilter. She feels powerless. These entries show what will become typical. When things are going her way, she's happy. When things aren't going her way, she's depressed.

Jennifer is a little boat adrift in an ocean. For the next four years or so, she will be at the mercy of the currents. She will try to control the things she cannot change (people, places and things), she will cower from the things that she can change (herself) and she will lack serenity. She will not look to the Heavens for guidance. She will swear oaths to herself and she will break them over and over again.

Electric Avenue, Eddy Grant

What book or books left the biggest impressions on you when you were a kid?

Median Household Income $20,885 Unemployment 9.6% Crack Cocaine is developed The compact disc (CD) is introduced The FCC grants permission to Motorola to begin testing cellular phone service The Color Purple wins the Pulitzer Prize Gandhi wins Best Picture at the Academy Awards
Popular movies are The Big Chill, The Right Stuff and Terms of Endearment
Karen Carpenter dies at age 32 of anorexia nervosa

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