The Scholarship

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Religion and Spirituality  |  House: Booksie Classic
Hayden, a high school senior, did not want to apply for the Madeline Parker Memorial Scholarship because if she won, she would be required to volunteer at the psychiatric hospital. She did not want to work with crazy people. Unfortunately, her mom thought she should and she ended up winning it. There is no way this experience is going to go well.

Submitted: November 06, 2014

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Submitted: November 06, 2014

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Chapter 1

 

“I found another scholarship for you, Hayden!” my mom said excitedly when I got home from school.

I groaned. There were a lot of things I wanted to do my senior year besides applying for scholarships. I took the paper my mom handed me about the scholarship.

The Madeline Parker Scholarship

Madeline Parker lost her life to depression when she was a teenager. Her family has set up a memorial scholarship for her and uses the opportunity to raise awareness for depression. Recipients of the scholarship will be graduating from Clarke High School and have plans to attend college. Recipients will also be required to put in community service hours on the psychiatric floor of Treynor Memorial Hospital.

 

“Yeah, I am not applying for this,” I told my mom.

“Why not? It is worth a thousand dollars.”

“But if I win, I would have to volunteer at the psychiatric hospital.”

“So?”

“So, I do not want to have to work with a bunch of freaks that have no control over their thoughts and emotions.”

“I am sure that it will not be that bad. Besides, this scholarship is worth a thousand dollars. Do you know how many hours it would take you to earn that much at a minimum wage job?”

I would rather work that many hours than volunteer at a psychiatric hospital.”

“You are on your own for college, Hayden,” my mom reminded me for what seemed like the hundredth time. “Whether you choose to work or apply for scholarships is up to you.”

I knew that even if I worked all summer, I still could not pay for college on a minimum wage job. I would need a lot of scholarships in addition to the time I planned on working at the restaurant as a waitress.

The thing is though, I did not want the Madeline Parker Scholarship. I would feel very uncomfortable around people with mental illnesses. I would be surrounded by people who claimed they were depressed but really had no control of their emotions. They were just using depression as an excuse to be lazy.

My mom was still waiting for my decision about the scholarship.

“I am applying for tons of scholarships,” I said. “I just do not want this one.”

“Hayden, I know the idea of going to a psychiatric hospital is a little scary. But you will be there for only a few hours. You will be fine. You can do it for a thousand dollars. And you just might learn something.”

“I seriously doubt that,” I replied. I had decided though that I would go ahead and apply for the scholarship. I mean, there were a couple hundred students in my graduating class. The chances of me getting this one were not that great.

 

 

 

Chapter 2

 

Finally, it was senior awards night. This was the night when the seniors wore their caps and gowns as presenters awarded their scholarships to the various students.

I was nervous but excited as I walked down the auditorium steps to the front with the rest of the class. I had applied for a lot of scholarships and I was hoping I would win several.

The principal began the ceremony with a quick introduction and then Mrs. Quade and Mr. Grisham, the National Honor Society advisors, came forward and presented the members with cords.  I have been in National Honor Society since my junior year so I got a blue and yellow cord.

Next, a bunch of athletic awards were given out. I have never participated in sports so I did not go up.

“Now,” Mrs. Willey, the guidance counselor said from up front, “I am going to award the Senior Citizenship Award. This award is given to a senior based on good character, values, and attitude. This year, the staff has nominated Hayden Hoyt as the winner of this award.”

I smiled and went forward to have my picture taken with Mrs. Willey for the newspaper. Even though this was not a scholarship, it was still a big honor.

I sat down so that Mrs. Willey could present the next honor.

“The Henry King Scholarship is given each year to a senior attending college,” Mrs. Willey said.

I held my breath. I had applied for this scholarship.

“This scholarship is award to Tanya White,” Mrs. Willey said.

My heart fell. I knew I would not win them all but it was still a disappointment.

A new presenter came forward for the next award.

“I am Robert Parker,” he said. “My family established a scholarship in honor of my daughter, Madeline, who had attended this school but unfortunately lost her life to depression. This scholarship is intended to help raise awareness for mental illness. The recipient of this award will be required to volunteer at the Treynor Memorial Hospital on the psychiatric floor.”

This was the scholarship I did not want.

“This year,” Mr. Parker said, “I am proud to present this scholarship to Hayden Hoyt.”

No! There must be some mistake!

I numbly stood up and walked up to Mr. Parker. Then, my knees collapsed and everything went black.

 

Chapter 3

 

When I opened my eyes, I discovered I was laying on the auditorium floor in the front with Mrs. Holiday, the school nurse, on one side of me and my mom on the other.

“What happened?” I asked.

“You fainted,” the nurse said.

“They had just announced that you won the Madeline Parker Scholarship and then you collapsed,” my mom said.

I groaned as I remembered that I had won the dreaded scholarship.

“You will be all right,” Mrs. Holiday said. “I recommend that you go to the hospital as a precaution since you hit your head on the podium when you fell.”

I groaned again. Not only had I won a scholarship I did not want, I had passed out in front of an auditorium full of people.

“How are you feeling, Hayden?” Mr. Parker asked as he came over.

“She will be fine,” my mom answered for me. “I am going to take her to the hospital to get checked out though.”

“I will contact you with more information later regarding the scholarship,” Mr. Parker said.

The nurse and my mom helped me up and there was a cheer throughout the auditorium. They supported me up the steps and into a wheelchair the principal had waiting. Then, Mrs. Holiday waited for me while my mom went and got the car to take me to the hospital.

“I am fine,” I said when Dr. Shalling entered the room.

“What happened?” he asked. I was still wearing my graduation gown and he was giving me an odd look.

“She was at her senior awards ceremony and she had just gone up front because she had won a scholarship when she passed out and hit her head on the podium,” my mom said.

“If the awards ceremony got you excited and nervous, are you sure you can handle graduation?” Dr. Shalling asked.

I rolled my eyes. Of course I could handle graduation.

“You do not have to participate in the graduation ceremony if you do not want to,” my mom said.

“Mom, I am going to graduation. I will be fine.” I was not going to tell her why I had fainted.

Dr. Shalling shined a light in my eyes and examined the bump on my head before pronouncing me fine.

On the way home, I decided I was not going to accept the scholarship. That way I would not have to work with crazy people. I told all of this to my mom.

“You cannot turn this scholarship down now, Hayden,” my mom said. “Think of how Mr. Parker would feel. Besides, you need the money for college.”

Once my mom makes a decision, it is final. I would be going to the psychiatric floor.

 

Chapter 4

 

Mr. Parker sent me the scholarship information right after graduation. Before school started in August, I had to have put in twenty hours at the psychiatric hospital. I could split it up however I wanted though. I was going to be expected to help with administrative tasks and to interact with the patients.

As I walked the few blocks to the hospital, I was really hoping I would get to do administrative work. I really did not want to work with a bunch of freaks that had no control over their emotions.

I nervously entered the hospital and then asked for directions to the psychiatric floor.

“Welcome, Hayden!” a nurse said excitedly after I explained what I was doing there. “We always look forward to having the scholarship winner come to work with us. Many of them end up coming back as volunteers after they have finished their hours.”

That would definitely not be me.

“Let me give you a quick tour of the place and then I will have you get started. My name is Lisa by the way.”

“And what exactly will I be doing?” I asked as we walked down the hall.

“I am hoping you can work with Tamara. But if that does not work out, I will find something else for you to do.”

I was curious about what Lisa was talking about.

After I was shown what a patient’s room looks like, the activity room, and the lounge, I was taken back down the hall to where some of the patients’ rooms were located. I noticed a girl about my age sitting against the wall, hugging her knees.

“Tamara,” Lisa said as she got down to the girl’s level, “this is Hayden. She is going to be volunteering at the hospital.”

Tamara was barefoot, wearing a pair of black sweatpants and a gray t-shirt. Her hair was pulled back in a very messy ponytail. She also had bandages wrapped around her wrists.

“Would you like to play a game with Hayden?” Lisa asked Tamara.

I definitely did not want to play a game with Tamara. She looked like she had just experienced a catastrophic event. She acted like it too.

“Come on, Tamara,” Lisa begged.

Tamara reluctantly got up and we both followed Lisa into the activity room.

“Which do you prefer?” Lisa asked as she pointed to the various games.

Tamara just shrugged and looked away.

Lisa picked the game of checkers and set in down on the table before leaving me alone with Tamara.

The game started off quietly. I was very nervous and was hoping the game would get over quickly.

What was I even supposed to say to this girl? She clearly had problems. I was just not sure what they were.

Hayden appeared to be very distracted. She would take a long time to move a piece. It was almost like she was lost in her own world, distracted from everything else.

“It is your turn,” I said after waiting awhile.

“I know,” she snapped.

“I am sorry,” I said quickly.

“For what?” she asked bitterly. “For having to deal with people like me or this game?” She stood up and ran out of the room.

“What did I do?” I asked Lisa as she returned to the room.

“Do not worry about Tamara,” she said. “She actually did very well. I am surprised that she played that long. I will go find something else for you to do.”

“If you do not mind, I think I would like to be done for today. This has been a lot to deal with.”

“Ok, I will see you later.”

Chapter 5

 

When I arrived at the psychiatric hospital the next day, Tamara was getting the bandages on her wrists changed by a nurse. She had some very nasty cuts and she kept winching in pain as a nurse with a nametag that said Lacey cleaned them.

I could tell that Tamara had been the one to cut herself. I could not understand why anyone would voluntarily cut themselves. What was fun about pain?

“Do you want to play a game with Hayden, Tamara?” the nurse asked when she got done.

“I guess,” she said quietly.

I could tell that Tamara was feeling a little better. She had combed her hair and put on shoes.

“Can I play too?” another teenage girl asked eagerly.

“Of course,” the nurse answered.

“I am Lydia,” the girl said happily as she held out her hand.

“I am Hayden,” I said as I shook her hand. “I am a volunteer here.” I wanted to make sure she knew I was not a patient.

Lydia eagerly skipped down the hall to the activity room while Tamara and I followed behind.

We started a game of Monopoly. Tamara did not say much but Lydia made up for it with a steady stream of chatter as she told us about her school and pets and soccer team.

I was very curious about why Lydia was here. She seemed like she had control over her emotions. I did not think of her as a freak like Tamara, who had cut herself. I wondered if it would be rude for me to ask Lydia.

“Your doctor is here, Tamara,” Lacey said as she came into the activity room. “Do you want to pause the game?”

“You guys can go ahead and play without me,” she said. “I am getting a little tired anyway.”

“She is much better than when she came in,” Lydia said. “In fact, I think she did fairly well playing the game with us.”

“What is wrong with her?” I asked before I could stop myself. I immediately put my hand over my mouth.

“You have not figured it out?” Lydia asked incredulously.

“Well, I noticed that she cut herself,” I said.

“Tamara is depressed,” Lydia said.

I guess I should have figured that out.

“Tamara has had a problem with depression and cutting so she has been here several times before, just like me. She came in last week after she attempted suicide.”

“Wow!” That was all I could say. What could possibly make a teenager depressed? What would lead someone of any age to cut? Why would anyone want to kill themselves?

“I am bipolar,” Lydia continued. “I have an idea what Tamara is going through. “It is tough having a mental illness.”

I did not say anything. I did not want to offend Lydia with my views. Instead, we finished the game and then I left.

Chapter 6

 

“I am going to have you work with some patients that just came in,” Lacey said to me.

As we were walking to the activity room, we passed Tamara, sitting on the floor and hugging her knees.

“This is Laurie, Falon, and Ellie,” Lacey said as she introduced me to the girls sitting at a table making friendship bracelets. “Girls, this is Hayden, a volunteer.”

“Hi,” I said nervously.

“Nice to meet you,” Ellie said.

No one else even bothered to look up.

I nervously sat down at the table and selected some different colored threads and beads.

“So what made you want to volunteer here?” Ellie asked. She spoke really fast.

“I got a scholarship that requires me to volunteer here for twenty hours,” I replied.

“It really is not a bad place,” Ellie said. “Most of the people are really nice.” Ellie suddenly looked away, focusing on a group of girls talking a couple tables away from us.

I used the break in conversation to study the other two girls. Laurie looked really skinny. I wondered if maybe she had an eating disorder. I was unable to tell what was wrong with Falon.

“Is that the only type of bracelet you know how to make?” Ellie asked as she brought her attention back to me and looked at my simply braided bracelet.

“Ellie, be nice,” Falon said.

“It is beautiful,” Ellie said. I could tell she did not mean it though.

“Would anyone like a snack?” Lacey asked as she stuck her head into the room.

“No, thank you,” Laurie said.

“Of course you would not,” Ellie said. “They are never going to let you leave this place, Laurie, if you do not start eating.”

“Ellie!” Lacey exclaimed as Laurie, hurt, walked out of the room.

Ellie did not appear to be sorry for her comments.

“And do the voices say you want a snack, Falon?” Ellie continued.

Falon immediately burst into tears. “Sorry for having schizophrenia!” she told Ellie before running out of the room.

“Ellie, let’s go see if we can find a doctor to talk to,” Lacey suggested.

“But I am fine,” she insisted. “I am just having a manic episode.

And I thought working with Tamara was bad. I would take her depression over this crazy bunch of girls with an eating disorder, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder.

“Go see if the nurses need help in the office,” Lacey said to me before leaving with Ellie.

 

Chapter 7

 

The next day, I was told to play a game with Tamara again but she refused.

“How about we just talk?” she suggested.

I would rather play a game. I had nothing to talk about with Tamara. We had nothing in common.

“You do not have to be so nervous when you come here,” Tamara said once we had sat down in the activity rom.

“Is it that obvious?” I asked with a nervous laugh.

“Every one of the patients here is human, just like you,” Tamara replied.

“But you guys are humans with problems,” I blurted out before I could stop myself.

Tamara laughed. I do not think I have ever even seen her smile before.

“Everyone in the world has problems.”

“But you guys have different problems. You are unable to deal with the world. You are unable to control your emotions.”

Tamara laughed again. “That is like saying a person who has cancer should be able to have control over their cells or that a person with heart disease should just deal with it.”

Now I was very confused. “What are you talking about?” I asked.

“Hayden, mental illness is no different that diabetes, cancer, or heart disease. It is a regular illness. A person cannot just snap out of diabetes and a person with depression cannot just get over it.”

I did not believe Tamara.

“The problem is my brain,” Tamara tried to explain. “There is a chemical imbalance.”

“But you have control over the cutting,” I pointed out. “And the suicide attempt.”

“Yes, I do have control over those things. But depression really messes up a brain. It is like the brain is programmed to self destruct. Thoughts of suicide are part of depression. And the thoughts of cutting are impulsive. I have no control over those thoughts.”

“But still, you do not have to follow through though. You do not have to cut. You do not have to kill yourself.”

“Depression is more than that though. Depression is more than just sadness. With depression, there are also thoughts of hopelessness, worthlessness, and loss of interest. You have this overwhelming feeling of sadness and you feel that there is no hope for the future. Eventually, you just decide you are done with life.”

“And where does cutting fit into all that?” I still believed that a person with depression was just choosing to be sad.

“It is hard to explain,” Tamara said. “But cutting helps me feel in control. It is also a way to deal with the tough feelings and emotions I am experiencing.”

I still could not see why a person would want to voluntarily hurt themselves.

“I know this must all be very difficult for you to understand, Hayden, but believe me, I am not choosing to be sad. Nobody wishes for an unhappy life. If I could be happy, I would. My brain is just making it difficult to feel happy.”

Tamara did have a point when she said nobody wants an unhappy life. Still, I would need some time to think about all of this.

 

Chapter 8

 

That night, I did research on depression. I found some internet sites that talked about the chemicals involved in depression. Maybe Tamara was right. Maybe a person does not choose to be depressed.

I knew that I would need to apologize when I saw Tamara. But when I saw her at the psychiatric hospital the next day, the apology completely slipped my mind when she gave me a weak smile.

“Tamara is feeling a little better,” Lacey whispered to me before I followed Tamara into the activity rom.

“So how long are you going to be here?” I asked Tamara curiously as we set up Monopoly.

“I will not be released until they are sure I am not a threat to myself. Otherwise, I will just come right back here.”

“But how will they truly know?” I asked. “Only you know what is going on in your mind.”

“I am taking an antidepressant and talking to a psychiatrist. That is helping.”

“So when you leave, do you think you will be ready for the world?” I asked.

Tamara snorted. “The world is partly why I am here!”

“What do you mean?”

“Some people just cannot handle all the stress that is thrown at them. The world is a very chaotic place.”

“But if you return to the world, won’t your depression just continue? You will end up right back here.”

“That is why I am getting help, Hayden. That is why I am taking medicine and talking to someone.”

“I hope it all works out,” I said. I did not want to imagine a life of depression.

“Me too. Do you have any idea how frustrating it is to be a Christian with depression?”

“What does being a Christian have to do with anything?” I was curious as to where this was going. And me not really being a religious person, I did not want to talk about this.

“Christians are supposed to trust God with their lives. They know that God has a plan for them. Christians that are depressed are not supposed to commit suicide because they know God has plans for them. But I feel like I am not living my life for God. I am so depressed that sometimes I barely have the will to live, let alone do anything else for God. And I definitely messed up by attempting suicide.”

“Is suicide enough to get you kicked out of Heaven?” I asked.

“Heaven does not work that way, Hayden.”

“What do you mean? I thought good people went to Heaven and bad people did not.”

“We are all sinners. All sins are equal. Because of that, we are all condemned to death. But God loves us so much that He sent His Son, Jesus, to die for all sins. Whoever accepts this forgiveness and lives their life for Jesus will one day spend eternity in Heaven.”

“Whoa! Are you telling me that because my heart is not in it that I am not going to Heaven?” I was shocked. I had always considered myself a good person and therefore going to Heaven.

“It is not too late to give your heart to the Lord. All you need to do is pray.”

“This is not something a person just decides right away though. I would really like time to think about this.”

“I advise you not to wait too long, Hayden. Life is full of uncertainties.”

“I won’t,” I promised. It looked like I would be doing more research tonight.

 

Chapter 9

 

I knew I was not perfect. I had messed up in life on several occasions. I did not realize though that my good behavior was not enough to get me into Heaven. I understood why I needed to have Jesus in my life. I just was not sure if I had enough information to do it.

The world was a pretty cruel place. There was sickness and poverty and crime and natural disasters. If God loved us all so much, why would He allow such bad things to happen? I mean, even Tamara was a Christian and she had really bad depression.

I wondered why Tamara did not blame God for her problems.

And the next time I went to the psychiatric hospital, I asked her.

“God can do amazing things through our problems,” she answered.

“And what is God doing through your problems?” I asked curiously.

“I really do not know right now. God’s plans do not always make sense, but He knows what He is doing. For example, there is a really popular Christian author that writes a lot about mental illness.”

“Is there anyone else in here that is a Christian?” I asked. It would be nice to see if they thought God was working through their problems.

“I really do not know. My depression makes me become withdrawn. I really do not know the other patients that well.”

“But isn’t it true of a lot of Christians that they want everyone to know about Jesus?” I had seen the literature as well as the people on the streets.

“Many Christians have a mission to tell people about Jesus so that they will be saved.”

“Don’t you care about those people’s souls?” I asked.

“Of course. I did not realize that you really cared about these people in here though.”

“At first I did not. I thought you guys were a bunch of freaks that had no control over your emotions. But I am starting to see all of you differently. And I think knowing Jesus would do all of you a lot of good.”

“And what about you?”

“Give me time, I am working on it.”

“And why do you think people here need Jesus, besides to be saved?”

“I just think everyone here could probably get a lot of comfort from knowing Jesus. I do not know anyone’s life story, but if there are a lot of people like me in this world, then the people here have experienced a lot of rejection. Jesus is not like that. He accepts everyone.”

I was shocked by the words coming out of my mouth. I had really changed my opinions and beliefs since I had begun volunteering. Maybe there was some good coming from this scholarship after all.

 

Chapter 10

 

That night, I really began questioning my life. I had graduated from high school and now I felt like my life was truly beginning. I had plans to go to college and study music performance and acting. I was hoping to either perform on Broadway or in the movies. I knew it would be a difficult career path though.

But after my conversations with Tamara, I was starting to think that maybe I was making a mistake. I was missing something. Tamara had said God can work through our problems. I imagined God was able to work through our daily lives as well though.

I knew God would be able to work through me as an actress; if I let Him. But what really bothered me about my career choice is that I was doing it all for me. I had not picked a career as an actress for God or other people. I picked it because I wanted the fame and fortune that comes from being a star. I guess I really did like to sing and act too though.

But after talking to Tamara, I was starting to realize that there was something more to life. There was a spiritual part of life, and I needed to embrace it.

I could feel God calling my name. He was getting progressively louder all the time. I knew it was time to listen.

“Dear God,” I prayed for the first time, “I am new to this but I am ready to listen. I am ready to live my life for You as a Christian. Please direct my life so that I can start over with You. Amen.”

Suddenly, I realized what felt wrong. I realized the mistake I had been making this whole time. I immediately went over to the computer and looked up careers in counseling and psychiatry.

 

Chapter 11

 

I got up early to go to the psychiatric hospital. I could not believe that I actually wanted to go to the hospital. But I really wanted to see Tamara.

Tamara gave me a big smile when I arrived. I could tell that she was doing much better.

“So what is going on?” she asked me. “You are here early.”

“I had to tell you something. I gave my life to Jesus last night. God then told me that I should pursue a career in psychiatry rather than music performance.”

Lacey,the nurse passed by when I said that I was changing my career plans.

“You are not the first person that has had a change in heart about this place after getting the scholarship,” she said. “I got the scholarship when I was a senior and I dreaded coming here. But after awhile, my attitude changed and I started looking at the patients differently. And now, look at where I am.”

“God certainly works in mysterious ways,” Tamara said. “And I am glad that you are now part of my big spiritual family.”

“I owe this all to you.”

“Me, the freak,” Tamara said with a laugh.

“I used to think you were all freaks but I know differently know,” I said. My cheeks flushed in embarrassment.

“I know you felt that way from the beginning. Your face said it all.”

“I am really sorry. I did not really know you then.”

“That is ok. You are forgiven by me and Jesus.”

“So when are you getting out of here?” I asked curiously. Now that I was happy and had some things figured out, I wanted the whole world to feel the same way.

“I should be going home in a few days.”

“Are you ready?”

“I am not sure. I am kind of nervous that I will relapse and end up in the same situation.”

“Whatever happens, please remember that God loves you and has plans for you.”

“Please pray for me, Hayden. I have a feeling that I have a rough future ahead of me.”

“I will if you will pray for me. I want to do all I can to help people like you while serving God.”
Tamara did not say anything. Instead, she wrapped her arms around me and gave me a tight hug. I knew I was already helping people with mental illnesses by becoming close to Tamara. This was what I wanted my future to be like.


© Copyright 2018 Kimberly Adams. All rights reserved.

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