The Passed Note Issue 6 February 2018 - Page 25

I didn’t say anything. This kid knew something about me no other elementary schooler did, but he didn’t know that much. I wasn’t about to explain how impossible it was to focus in class, to keep from calling out, or to stop drumming on my desk when asked. I certainly wasn’t going to tell him I cheated on Mad Minutes, a weekly exercise that made me incredibly anxious, as it required answering 100 math questions in one minute. As Dr. Coyne collected our papers, I stealthily continued filling in blanks.

Before I could figure out how to make him leave, the classroom door opened.

“This isn’t social time, it’s punishment,” Dr. Coyne said to me. And to my friend: “Keep walking.”

***

In fifth grade, I started dancing ballet. The first time I turned and whispered to my friends during class, my teacher Tanya barked, “Samantha! No talking!” which was enough to scare me into submission for a month.

The next time I spoke out of turn, she got in my face.

“Don’t you like ballet?” she taunted. “Don’t you want to take it seriously?”

I didn’t like ballet, I loved it. And I took it so seriously that by the time I entered middle school the following year, I didn’t need to stop at the nurse’s office before lunch anymore. The patience and self-control that Tanya and the art of ballet demanded curtailed my ADHD. But another battle—something to be even more ashamed of—lay just a few years ahead.

Maybe the transition from middle to high school ignited my depression and anxiety. Maybe it was the obsessive ballet