By H.O.

Three things I want people to know:
* I’m not stuck up, I’m afraid
* I’m not shy, I have anxiety
* I’m not boring, I struggle to connect to people.

Why I struggle to connect to people. I’m not stuck up, I’m afraid. I'm not shy, I have anxiety. I'm not boring, I struggle to connect to people. I spent months alone, but I'm not so afraid now.

Feeling so alone

As a teenager with an unstable upbringing I experienced episodes of anxiety and depression. These were not frequent and I mostly coped with them by missing time off school. However, in September of 2015 I was left unable to speak at school after a strong depressive episode had taken a hold. I spent my whole day in silence unless spoken to. It was as if I’d somehow forgotten how to have conversation, I didn’t know what to say. This went on for a period of months. Until my friends, not understanding why I was “ignoring them” left me. Other than that friendship group I had only one other friend who I was able to talk to and felt comfortable with but she was in a different form and had other friends.

Being alone

Not wanting to be a burden I spent months alone, in fact the whole duration of year 12. Hiding in the toilet at lunchtime, sitting in the back on a table by myself at form. I had stopped eating too because I was afraid to wait in the line by myself. I was so afraid of people and what they thought of seeing me by myself. This went on until I stopped going to school. Then I had a meeting with a protection officer at school who told me that she couldn’t offer me anything other than my own room to spend lunch times. And a room to sit my exams away from everyone else.

I managed it although it really affected me and when the time came for college I thought it would be the same. So I spent the first month avoiding everyone in my new class and going home on my breaks or hiding in the toilet until they were over. I even attempted to take my own life in November 2016 and ended up in therapy.

Meeting new people

This changed my life but I still couldn’t benefit fully from it because I was so afraid to speak, and I would sit in silence for many weeks in our sessions until I finally opened up. In consequence of this I cannot hold conversation with new people. I almost have a panic attack every time I think I see someone from my old school. And it takes me a long time to be able to make friends with new people as I still struggle to connect with people. But I’m not so afraid anymore.


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