Hello friends. This one is hard to write about, but I feel it's only necessary. I've been meaning to write about this for a long time but...I don't know, I guess I never actually acted on that urge. But now it's time.
I don't know where it came from, really. I just remember my fourth grade year being miserable. Something was off, and I didn't know what. I remember always having to be excused from band class because I couldn't breathe. I remember feeling dizzy when folding laundry with my mom in the dining room one day and her telling me to cool off and to sit down. I remember going to the nurse every day with something I told myself was a headache. Every day? That's not what's typically what's considered to be normal.
Middle school was fine. Freshman year was fine. So what was it about fourth grade? What was wrong with me? What had caused me to struggle in school in fourth and fifth grade? Something seemed to be holding me back, but I wasn't sure what it was. Freshman year seemed to be going smoothly. But all of a sudden, one day, towards the end of the second semester--okay, I need to interrupt this for a second to admit that I'm on the verge of a panic attack right now...okay, proceeding--I didn't have an appetite. But it was lunch time...I needed to eat! I began feeling queasy...was I hungry? What in the heck was happening to my body?! I hurried down to the office and begged for my grandma to pick me up. And she did. And she and my mom took turns picking me up for the rest of that week. But within the last week of school, I forced myself to make it through. I needed to take exams, of course. But little did I know that I was just thinking I was sick. Yeah, it's a concept even I struggle to understand. Sophomore year, band camp--newly-built school, newly-hired band director--all new things. But on that first day of band camp, there it was again: that stomach ache. I had to leave. And I did. And from Monday through Thursday, I didn't attend band camp. That's when I mom knew that I had her genetics--I have an anxiety disorder. That Friday and that following week, my mom pushed me to go to band camp...and I was able to handle it. But allow me just to say, that entire band season was terrifying. I can't explain why I get anxiety. It just hits me. I started seeing a psychiatrist after trying out a psychologist. That's where I was actually diagnosed. It's a disorder. He told me he was surprised I've been able to keep up my grades to a 3.7 GPA. He said that my anxiety links to ADHD since it causes my mind to bounce uncontrollably around the walls of my fears. But with his motivation--and the help of some medications--I've been able to tackle my junior year perfectly. I still get panic attacks, but only about once a month (versus twice a week).
But what goes into a panic attack? Well mine are complicated, as are everyone's. Mine don't typically have a specific cause. Sometimes I'm queasy, like when I was at my brother's college graduation. Sometimes I just need to breathe slowly, like during school. But the worst is when I temporarily lose my vision, when my hearing becomes muffled, when I feel like I can't breathe, and when I uncontrollably shake--all at the same time. Not a lot of people understand how panic attacks feel. Not a lot of people understand what it's like to be afraid of what your mind can do to you. It's a difficult lifestyle, but every day I get a little bit stronger. And this blog certainly helps.
To all of you out there with anxiety, you can face it. It might not completely go away, but make sure people around you are aware of what's happening. It really helps. That's one of the reasons I wrote this, so you beautiful people reading understand a little more about what goes through my mind. I hope you found this helpful and I hope I made this a bit easier to understand. -Lydia