The characters in the following vignette are fictitious. They were derived from a composite of people and events for the purpose of representing real-life situations and psychological dilemmas which occur in families.
This story is about a teenager who undergoes a crisis of confidence, after her identity was challenged by a sports injury. Her resulting difficulties challenged the well-being and stability of the whole family.
Madison was in 9th grade. She had been a star soccer player in middle school and was now on the varsity team.
Madison had been known for being unstoppable and fearless when it came to sports. Last spring she was injured and unable to play for several months, and was on the mend as she entered high school in the fall. Over the summer, her parents noticed that she seemed “off” and unhappy.
Madison’s injury created a crisis of confidence for her, since her identity was built around being a soccer player and being able to do whatever she set out to do, particularly in sports.
Madison was always a good kid. She was an only child and came across as older than her age – reserved and self-contained. Though she resumed playing sports once school started, she was not back to “herself.” She had difficulty adjusting to the workload and new environment at school, feeling pressured and unmotivated to persevere in her schoolwork when she didn’t feel sure of herself.
In the fall she became symptomatic, ruminating obsessively to the point of distraction about getting hurt or injured. This anxiety escalated into periodic panic attacks. During these episodes she became convinced she was having a heart attack. Madison also started having fights with her dad, feeling pressured by him around her school performance and his worry about whether she would get into college. She tried to avoid him because she felt he didn’t understand or trust her, and he made her feel worse. Madison’s relationship with her mom was relatively stable, and better than with her dad.
The Parents’ Perspective
Why was Madison’s dad so anxious and scared for his daughter?