Anxiety has caused some of my underlying fears to come out. It’s caused a hobby of mine to become something I dread. Anxiety has my body and mind wrapped around its finger.
The first time I had a panic attack was in seventh grade. I was in the middle of French class when I suddenly had this feeling of intense fear. I dropped to the ground barely breathing, my heart going crazy. I was scared. I’ve never experienced anxiety like this before. It felt like my body wasn’t my own anymore.
Soon, panic attacks became normal. I started meeting with my guidance counselor and we’d do deep breathing exercises. Whenever I’d have a panic attack, teachers would go and get a wheelchair. My legs would be trembling — standing or walking became impossible. They’d wheel me into the sick room and then the guidance counselor would come with her laptop and the CD. With the deep breathing exercises I’d calm down. This routine became normal for me, with the teachers and guidance counselor.
With time, I began to feel okay with this panic disorder I had. It was hard to cope with but the teachers were always extremely kind. Sometimes, a few of my favourite teachers, like my gym and art teachers, would come into the sick room while I was still trying to calm down. They would tell me funny stories to try and make me feel better.
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But then, one day, in the girl’s bathroom, I heard someone say that I was faking my attacks. Those words were so hurtful. Obviously, I wasn’t faking the episodes, but the words stuck to me. The words deepened my insecurity and caused two of my attacks to happen at home during the night. It took a while for me to realize: they don’t know. I’ve never opened up to anyone about the panic attacks. I couldn’t blame people for not understanding something that’s never happened to them.
After a couple of months, at a Christmas party, my mom wanted me to sing even though she wasn’t going to be there. I told her I really didn’t want to but she said that it could help my fear of talking and presenting in front of people. I was terrified.
Nevertheless, I went and sang. But I couldn’t do it without shaking. As soon as I was done, I ran to the back where I started to sob and experienced another panic attack. My mom’s friend and my best friends were there, rubbing my back, holding my hand, telling me that it was okay. I was thankful for the reassurance they offered. Since then, my mom stopped asking me to sing in front of audiences.
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One of the worst panic attacks I’ve ever had happened during the summer. I was at my aunt’s house and felt the panic start to set in. I quickly started to take deep breaths (as it’s helped me in the past), but my cousin took one look at me and told me to stop. I was shocked that she would just say that, so thoughtlessly and uncaringly. I couldn’t just stop. I quietly walked to the bathroom upstairs where I knew no one would hear. There, I dropped to the floor. It was the first time I’ve ever dealt with my panic attack alone. The word “stop” had only caused my panic attack to worsen. My cousin was one of the people I trusted the most; she was like an older sister to me. For the next few weeks, I was angry at her, but didn’t show it or tell her. I pretended that everything was okay just like I’ve been doing for the past couple years.
Now, I’ve realized that some people don’t understand. They don’t understand how a feeling could be so strong, how it forces you to break down. They don’t understand how hard it is to overcome anxiety. They don’t understand how one word can only make it worse. But that’s okay. I’ve learned to accept the fact that not everybody is going to understand what I’m going through. And that acceptance has helped me.