Ask Amy: Pressure on student makes for bad chemistry

FresnoOctober 18, 2013 

Dear Amy: I'm a junior in high school. My parents are really hard on me about my grades.

They get mad if I get below a 95 on anything. I have a lot going on this year, and just got a new job. So now I'm trying to juggle schoolwork, a job, piano, guitar, horseback riding, clubs, friends and a boyfriend — all on about three hours of sleep, due to my insomnia. My parents are aware of my insomnia but don't help me with it. I know I could be a lot less stressed if I drop honors-level chemistry and take "regular" level.

However, when I mentioned this to my mom, she freaked out, saying that I'm not investing enough time into chemistry, even though I spend 90 minutes a night studying it.

All this stress is wearing me out. Without dropping horseback riding (which is the one thing that keeps me sane), is there anything I can do to either help her understand or get a handle on this before it kills me?

— Stressed

Dear Stressed: I am worried about you. Your insomnia is contributing greatly to your stress — and it must be addressed. Chronic sleep deprivation can lead not only to more stress (and trouble concentrating), but serious health problems, including depression.

Parents freak out about things — just like kids do — and most often the freakout happens when they feel hit with something suddenly and out of the blue.

Please do this: Plan a conversation. Choose a quiet time. Write down all of your activities and classes. Prioritize them in order of importance to you (insomnia should be at the top; you need to see your doctor).

Tell them, "I'm feeling very stressed and I'm worried about a lot of things. Can you help me sort it out?"

I don't think you should angle to drop chemistry. But would they freak out if you came home with an 80 on a test? Ask them.

Dear Amy: Like "The Teach," I have sudden and intense hot flashes. These episodes can be surprisingly dramatic (flushed face, sweating, furious fanning) and embarrassing. I was having one in front of a friend and was sheepishly trying to deal with it when he patted my arm and said, "Don't worry — you're just having a power surge."

— Cool

Dear Cool: Thank you! I'll be using this.


You can contact Amy Dickinson via email at, follow her on Twitter @askingamy or "like" her on Facebook.

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