Part one can be found here. It’s probably best to read that first to understand this post. Although this is part two of my battle with anxiety, it really should have been part one as this is the beginning, the start.
I don’t remember the day I first felt anxious just like I don’t remember the day I first pulled my hair out. I do remember events in primary school where I was so anxious I’d be sick. I remember it was bad when I was eleven, in year six. It could have begun before then, I don’t know.
Every Monday morning I remember feeling sick with anxiety at the thought that my friends hated me. I always thought that they would have conspired over the weekend to hate me. It didn’t matter if I’d last spoken to one of my friends late Sunday night. My anxiety wasn’t and still isn’t always rational.
I remember hiding in the sick room during lunchtime because I didn’t want to see my ‘boyfriend’ (I use that term lightly, all we used to do was hold hands and sit next to each other at lunch). I never faked feeling sick like I was so often accused.
I was bullied in year six. I was eleven and too scared to go to school. A few of my friends told me they didn’t like me anymore and I irrationally convinced myself that the whole school hated me. I was eleven and paranoid and anxious to the point I would get physically sick at the thought of going to school and facing my classmates.
My mum was amazing. She pulled me out of the class I was being bullied in and forced the school to place me in another class. She also got me taking natural anti-depressants. All of it helped for a little bit.
I remember when I was put back into my original class, a girl (who I’m still in contact with) said the nicest thing anyone could have said at the time. She came up to me in class and said ‘I’m so glad you are back, I missed you’. For that I am forever grateful and will never forget her kindness.
I missed so much of year six I still feel behind especially with maths. That’s also no thanks to my computer obsessed year six teacher but that’s an entirely different story.
I’ve blanked out a lot of my school years. I tend to do that about anxious and unhappy times. I know I begged mum to send me to the same high school as my friends, which she thankfully did. Starting high school with a large group of people I already knew definitely helped my anxiety.
I don’t remember much anxiety through high school. I know I hated missing out on social events because I’d feel left out, therefore paranoid and anxious, when it was discussed at lunch.
When I was sixteen I began seeing my first serious boyfriend. I thought we were in love. I had no idea. We weren’t. He was abusive in every way. My anxiety, unsurprisingly, increased. I was constantly walking on eggshells and never knew when I would see him or what his mood would be. That age is a turbulent time for any girl (and I suspect boy) without including a turbulent relationship.
It lasted a year and taught me a lot about relationships and myself. I vowed never to be in another abusive relationship. Unfortunately, I was. My next three relationships were shrouded in abuse, from both sides. I wanted to save and be saved. I never did or was.
I covered up my anxiety with smoking, alcohol, drugs and pulling my hair out, all ineffective, temporary coping mechanisms. To this day I still wonder how much my failed coping mechanisms have exuberated my current anxiety.
Looking back at the turbulence I put myself through and was put through my first panic attack still strikes me as odd. I remember it clearly. Mum and I were in a Kmart looking for hairclips for my year twelve formal. My chest started feeling tight, I had trouble breathing, felt dizzy and hot. All over hairclips that we couldn’t find. So unimportant even at the time. I’ve only had a handful of textbook panic attacks since then.
Looking back now I see how little self-esteem I had even when I was just a child, so young. I was, and still am, impressionable. I crave to be liked even by strangers.
Although, I wouldn’t change my past (it’s made me who I am today) I do wonder what my childhood and teenage years would have been like without anxiety.
You can find more from this brave and candid blogger at Tutu Ames