This is a recollection of my day Thursday February 9, 2017, through which I wish to illuminate what it is like to deal with a very painful, dual-faceted issue: functioning daily with anxiety at a high-pressure academic powerhouse of a high school. The italics represent my inner dialogue with myself throughout the day.
That day, I woke up with small sunbeams dancing on my face in a quiet house feeling perfectly rested. Something was very wrong. I leapt out of bed and ran to my phone, whose 6:40 alarm had somehow not gone off. It was 7:50. Oh god. My bus leaves at 7:45 and I have to be in first period by 8:20. Call Mom!! My heart rate spiked, and I called my mother and then my neighbor - neither could come get me (it may be important to note here that I do not have a car or a driver’s license). My mom gave me the number of one of her friends who lived nearby. The woman graciously agreed to take me to school as her kids went there as well. For a time in the car, I could breathe again - as long as I did not think about the three tests I had back to back starting in what was now seven minutes.
We pulled around back, I thanked my mom’s friend hastily and ran inside. A friend already told my teacher my situation, but my three minute tardiness counted nonetheless. It doesn’t matter - it’s not like this is a regular thing. Just sit down and start writing. Ugh, no! This is the one thing I didn’t study! I somehow managed to keep my focus on my essay, no matter how bad it was it was at least done completely. I could not focus on the fact that I had been up until one in the morning studying for everything for first, second, and third periods only to be short-changed. I hoped this was not a recurring theme for the next two hours.
I ate breakfast (and by that I mean I nibbled a granola bar) in homeroom, feeling relatively prepared for my comparative government test next - as that is what I had studied the most. I sat down, signed the honor code and began answering questions swiftly…until oh no, what is this? I don’t remember this being on the guide…could it mean this? WHY do I have to do this in pen? Whatever, I know this is wrong, but honestly the shame will hurt me more than a few lost points. My heart rate spiked and slowed inconsistently, and my breath was short. Then I made the mistake of checking my work. Aggh I don’t know anything, I’m going to fail, my teacher will hate me, everyone will hate me, I’m going to die… From zero to one hundred, my mind spiraled around ideas of failure and awkward disappointed looks from people I wanted to impress. That is plain and simple what anxiety is like. It varies for different people, obviously, but for me it detracts from everything I want to be. I know I am a good student, but I always feel like I am worthless. I want to stand and speak in front of crowds with confidence, but my mind and body hold me back.
Some days it is all I can do in a stressful situation to not completely melt down, and other days I am perfectly happy. That day reflected the former - I was the image of all I dread becoming: broken, unstable, sad. The thing about anxiety is that, at least for me, I know that I’m perfectly fine, but the voice of my worries screams over the voice of reason, and it’s terrifying because if it’s not screaming, then its waiting for an excuse to speak up. I am a healthy, happy person, so no matter how many times my anxiety speaks up, I want to speak out. A cry for help is not a cry of weakness, and any stigma against this problem only silences the person, not the problem.