When Sam Duenwald, 18, was in seventh grade, he got sick and had to miss a couple of weeks of school.
However, a couple of weeks of missed school turned into three, then four, then five.
“It became a vicious cycle,” Sam said. “I was getting really anxious about going back to school because I knew I had missed a ton of homework and that was causing my grades to drop, so I decided to avoid going to school altogether. This of course spiraled into missing even more homework, making my grades suffer further.”
Naturally, the situation caused tension between Sam and his parents.
“There was a lot of stress at home, and I was fighting with my parents all the time,” Sam said. “They knew I needed help.”
Sam’s anxiety became so severe that his parents took him to see a psychiatrist at Seattle Children’s midway through seventh grade. He was prescribed anxiety medication, which helped Sam finish up the school year.
“Over the summer, I kept telling myself, ‘I need to go back to school regularly; I’m going to be in eighth grade and everything is going to be great,’” Sam said.