When I was 15, I was in a science class and I was failing. I stopped functioning in that class; stopped doing work, stopped paying attention, because it seemed that no matter how many notes I took, no matter how many lectures I recorded and listened to, no matter how much pure, undivided attention I gave it, I couldn't pass. I was a failure, but I would just have to accept it.
My parents got involved and were not cool with this failure, so I was given a chance from the teacher. I made up a ton of work in a week and studied really hard for a test that Thursday. On Friday, we were in the library, researching for a project and were given back our tests: I got a 52, a failing grade. My mouth hurt, a panicked sob hidden in the back of my throat, begging not to be released. My eyes welled up with tears. I couldn't see straight or think straight. I began to sob uncontrollably, no one and nothing could calm me down. They went to get my dad from his classroom, he found me in the hallway, still crying. I cried for hours, now not only over the test, but I began to lament everything: my weight, my looks, my voice, my idiocy, my lack of talent, my shyness, my immaturity; everything, everything that I could remotely hate about myself found it's voice and I continued to cry.
This was one of the first panic attacks I ever had. This is one of the only ones I truly remember. It was so bad that you couldn't even bring up the test or I would begin to sob uncontrollably.This happens constantly. It's upsetting and terrifying.
It happened again. I woke up, looked at the clock and recognized the fifteen minutes I had to get out the door. Before I could even move my head from my pillow, my heart begins to race, my stomach begins to churn, and my brain begins to whiz at what feels like 200 miles a minute. The fifteen minutes I should take to get ready for my morning are now useless. Instead of doing that, I'll end up crying on the floor of my room or vomiting phlegm and emotions into the toilet, or standing in a cold shower begging my mind to calm down. This is the reality of having panic attacks. The idea of walking into a classroom late, yet again, scares me so badly I cannot function. Logic and willpower turn off and I turn into a puddle of tears, terrified screams, and fast heartbeats. I can get so scared that I'll pass out, my blood pressure drops and I'm gone. I don't remember a lot of them. It's a constant fear and it makes you hate yourself. It makes you hate that you can't deal with stuff like a 'normal' person.
It's a constant factor in my life and, while panic attacks suck and are an inconvenience, they are definitely not the only byproduct of my social anxiety. I am, without a doubt, the most nervous person I know. I seem shy, awkward, uncomfortable, and probably, to some extent, kind of rude, but, you know what? That's all anxiety. As I get older and the need to move forward in my own life as my own person becomes more present I am able to recognize the simple issues that deter my daily path due to my socially anxious soul.
I am 21 years old. I am still learning how to control this. If you know someone dealing with anxiety, let them know that it's okay. Don't let them think that this isn't normal: it is. It's completely normal and totally okay. Everything will be fine. That statement won't stop me from having panic attacks, but if I keep telling myself and keep being told and encouraged that it's normal, some of the self-hate will stop.
If you can, at the very least let someone know that what they're going through is completely okay, please do.