The Terror of Being a Teenager

Op-Ed: The pandemic, Hurricane Ian and me — a doctor whose friends say I have PTSD

I’m in a state of near-unconscious shock. When I was 14, I fell off a ladder and was knocked unconscious for three days. In a fog, I remembered a huge, roaring wind and the sight of the world tilting sideways, and I thought, “Oh my God, I fell off a ladder.” I’ve never known how to explain exactly what happened to me, but I felt sure everyone in my world knew, whether they wanted to know or not. “It happens,” they said, and everyone thought I was just a little dazed.

I spent the rest of high school and into college in various states of terror. The terror was that my parents would find out; the terror was that I’d be expelled. It was a combination of anxiety, fear of losing control of my life, the fear that I’d be like my friend who’d ODed on crack when she was 10, and the realization that I wasn’t strong enough to deal with my own emotions. The thing that scared me the most was going down a dangerous path.

Then, when I was 22, I started dating Ben, my best friend from home, and we did it for a year. He was a sweet, sensitive man with a great deal of money and I loved him. After a year, we broke up, but the real pain came when I was 22 and living in New York and was dating a new man, who was also sweet and sensitive. We both ended up getting pregnant and had the same birthday. I took a job at an abortion clinic in Manhattan, knowing it was dangerous and could eventually lead to me being fired and losing my family. I felt like I was in a horror movie, and the man who had just dumped me had been an accomplice to the abortion

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