My Journey

by KS

I can't really remember it clearly. If it slowly built up over time or if it just randomly hit me like a tonne of bricks. I just remember the panic, locking myself in my bathroom, praying every single night. I think it happened before my thirteenth birthday. I don’t remember the first time I felt it but I was petrified of not only using the toilet in public but having a toilet accident. I have no idea what brought this on because I had never had an accident before (apart from being a baby of course). But I had never had one since then and then all of a sudden it became this intense fear. I became obsessive about it. I had gone to the toilet every morning before school or dancing and if I didn’t do anything I would freak out. Because my brains thinking was if I didn’t do it in the morning I would have to end up doing it at school and that could lead to the possibility of having an accident. Thinking about it now, I realize how that could have never happened and that I really shouldn’t of let this control my life. But it did. It became a ritual every morning - I would wake up extra early and go to the bathroom and if I didn’t go I would lock myself in there and refuse to come out and go to school. My parents were fed up but I was too scared and embarrassed to tell them. Then one day I had to get ready for dancing, I was the only one home and I had a full-blown panic attack. I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t breathe. My dad came home to find my hyperventilating and hysterically crying curled up by the heater. At this point, I hadn't gone to school in two weeks and I pulled out of dancing (something I absolutely loved). I used to Google “Am I going insane?” and then symptoms of anxiety popped up through a Google search and I ticked all the boxes. So I had some understanding that I could possibly have anxiety which scared me as I thought I wasn’t normal and that not that many people have it. My mum one day found my notepad and I had written that I wish I didn’t exist. She was so worried she took me to the doctor. They thought that maybe I had an iron deficiency so they took blood tests. I was too scared to say because my mum wouldn’t leave me alone with the doctor to tell her the truth. They thought it might have been due to the fact that I was marginally underweight. The blood test results came back and I was fine. They couldn’t seem to figure out what was wrong. So the doctor told me not to harm my self and that was the end of trips to the doctors. Then, mum set up a meeting with the guidance counselor and my teacher and her and myself to talk about why I wasn’t going to school. They didn’t understand me. I think the counselor maybe did but my mum didn’t. I built a great relationship with the counselor and she was really helpful with relaxation exercises and listening to me but I could never really tell her what was causing the anxiety. I did get better. Coming to school was a lot easier and I very rarely panicked when I was there. However, dancing was a different story. I quit for the remainder of 2013 but in 2014 my mum made me rejoin (which I am very grateful she made me do). For two years I spent waking up at 6:30 am and go to the bathroom on a Saturday morning in preparation for a 10:30 start. I made sure I got up this early as it gave me plenty of chances to make sure I won't have to worry about going when I was at dancing. However, every Saturday I would wake up to the alarm and I would feel my stomach drop. It was such an awful feeling. It was an achievement for me if I got to the car and I would silently tell myself that I was proud that I had made it that far. There were some days where I would have terrible anxiety and there were other days that could manage. (it was a 5 hour day so it was long and hard to cope sometimes). Once 4pm came around and I had walked out those doors I would feel so happy that I had made it through the day. I repeated this process for a whole year and basically the same process the year after that, however, I wasn’t as anxious. I still followed the same patterns but when I was at dancing I was a lot calmer. The year after that I was fine. I didn’t even worry. I hadn’t felt any of those feelings until I was involved in my school's production and they all came flooding back. I was so disappointed in myself as I thought It was over and that I had made it through. It got pretty bad. Sometimes I would have to run to the bathroom and calm my breathing every 5 minutes. However, no one really noticed I was panicking, they always thought I was just sad or something I'm not sure but I didn’t really make a scene I just took myself off quietly. Once the production had finished I was fine again. I went back to “normal.”

I was never properly diagnosed with anxiety but I personally believe I had it. I'm not sure if there's ever a normal case of anxiety but I don’t really know if mine was normal considering it kind of just went away with that much professional help and without me telling anyone the real issue. It certainly didn’t go away overnight. I dealt with it for 5 years. 2 for those years it came and went but for 3 it was constant. I think I'm okay now. My counsellor gave me strategies to relax and I know how to use them that I can do it on my own. I definitely think at the start it was pretty bad but now I wouldn’t consider myself to have a disorder. My parents still don’t even know and I'm now 17. I just don’t know what to tell them. Because I was never really diagnosed. I spend ages contemplating that maybe I was just overly sensitive and I thought that its wrong to say I have a problem with the possibility that I didn’t as it could be offensive to those that do.

I was too worried on the whole “she's just looking for attention.” “you cant self-diagnose.” To ever ask for help. And I hope that no one reading this thinks those things about me because, to be honest, I don’t know if I did have an anxiety. Maybe I did/ do. Maybe I didn’t but whatever I experienced was awful and if that wasn’t anxiety, my god, all of you people are so brave and I have so much respect for each and every one of you. Especially those who were brave enough to say something to say they needed help. I admire that and I wish I had/ have your courage.

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