It all started when I was 12 or so, I believe. It’s hard for me to write this as I am literally pouring my heart out within this post.
My granddad unfortunately passed away and, as the oldest of 8 grandchildren I was probably the closest to him, as I had spent a lot of time with him when I was younger.
When he died I didn’t really know how to feel. He was the first person who I was close to that had passed and it felt really surreal. I had a week off school and when I finally returned I had to come home again as I wasn’t in the right frame of mind and I was very emotional.
The only way I can explain it is that I felt as if I was in a bubble and things were happening around me but I wasn’t there. I still feel like this. A lot. My anxiety kind of got a bit better when I was 13 and 14, but soon came back when I was 16 and GCSEs came along. I was having panic attacks most days and I had days when I could cry for hours. I had to take my exams in a different room as the crowds were just too much for me and I would panic. (Crowds are a massive trigger for me).
Some people found out about my anxiety and decided that they would pretend they felt the same in order to almost force me to open up to them, just so they could spread rumours about me. Others started telling me I was making it up and that it was all in my head. This is when I stopped talking to anyone and everyone about I was feeling, and I bottled up my feelings and tried to put on a smile so no one would notice the fact that my eyes were puffy from crying myself to sleep the previous night. I would hope that no one would mention the fact that I had to sit outside my lessons, as the thought of walking through the door to the classroom filled me with anxiety. Even though there was no physical threat there, for some reason my head thought it was unsafe.
Then there’s sixth form. It’s not going well at all. I am leaving in May to go to college next year as I can’t stand it one bit. I can hardly stay a full day at school at the moment, and the thought of my AS Level exams in eight weeks fills me with dread, although I haven’t got the motivation to revise. I want to succeed but my mind won’t let me. Panic attacks take up at least three-quarters of my life. They mostly happen at school but they can happen at any point and for no apparent reason.
I am fortunate to have a small number of friends who I can talk to but it is hard to trust people as I am terrified of being judged. When someone mentions having a mental health problem or struggling with their emotional wellbeing, people assume they are ‘crazy’ and don’t want to know. I am also fortunate to have a family who cares for me, and has always done everything they possibly can for me. But with me being the only person within my family with mental health issues, it is hard for them to understand how exactly I’m feeling. But they do try.
I also have a job which I love and have a passion for. My bosses are lovely and they know a little about my anxiety – but I don’t want them to think that I am needy! So I don’t really talk about it with them.
At the moment school is hard. Some days I can’t even leave the house and I lie in bed overthinking all the bad things that could happen. Friction within my friendship group, which escalates from something very trivial, but I just feel it means you don’t want to be associated with me. Why should I try and apologise for something I can’t help?
We are supposed to go in to school when we don’t have lessons to revise but I can’t. People ask me ‘what’s wrong?’ but sometimes I just don’t know myself. I’m not being rude or antisocial when I can’t speak. It’s the anxiety that’s stopping me!
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