Don’t Panic!

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I like to keep things light and fluffy on this blog, but that’s not always me. Like most people, I sometimes feel down.  Also, like most people, I sometimes get stressed. Well, I say sometimes…I mean, all the time.

I was always an anxious child. Well, I don’t remember that far back, but I have been told. Unlike my sister (who somehow manages to talk and get along  with most people), I found it hard to make friends in primary school. I was very quiet, so didn’t talk to people unless they talked to me first. This meant I had a small number of friends, not that I was disliked by anyone. I was bought countless bags of worry dolls to keep under my pillow (which are still there now), calming music, self-help books, but nothing really helped. I guess some people are just born that way.

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I was always told at primary school that I had to, “come out of my shell”. Targets set by my teachers were always, “she needs to put her hand up in class more”. Now 16, I am still quiet, I still don’t put my hand up in class – not often. However,  I have become better at making friends, so I now have a lovely group of friends and couldn’t be happier.

However, that anxious child is still inside me. Recently when I was home alone, a big black van with blacked-out windows pulled up on our drive. Let’s just review the situation, a van pulls up on the drive. What murderer/kidnapper pulls up on the drive in the middle of the day? However, my brain told me, “they have come to kidnap you. Freak. Out”. My legs instantly went limp (a sign of a panic attack) but I managed to hurry to my room to grab my emergency stick and giant knitting needle (it’s worrying how prepared I was for this event). Turns out, they were just delivering a package – obviously I didn’t open the door. Luckily they left it outside.

I also have a lot of trouble talking to people I don’t know and, for that matter, who I do know. My sister gets very annoyed with me, sending her to ask people questions because I am too scared. For example, at a cake sale the other day, I made her ask how much the cakes were, come and report back to me, and then then sent her back to buy me one. This fear of talking to people also affects me in class when I am too shy to answer questions. The problem is, I know it is an irrational fear and nothing bad is ever going to happen. The worst that can happen is that I’ve given an incorrect answer, yet I am still too shy to try. I am also constantly fearing what other people think of me. The other day, I did an entire lap of the school because I was worried that people might think it odd I left the study room and came back too soon. In reality, I know no one cares. This is ‘social anxiety’, or what I have been referring to all my life as ‘shyness’, but it is much more than that. Social anxiety is when you fear many everyday tasks. For example; speaking to people in person, or on the phone. It makes me exessively worried and panic about mundane things that someone else wouldn’t think twice about. It is a horrible feeling, knowing there’s no reason to panic or worry but lacking the ability to shut the emotion down. Unfortunately, this affects my self-esteem and confidence. A quote – ‘Living with anxiety is like being followed by a voice. It knows all your insecurities and uses them against you.’. I totally identify with this.

Panic attacks are another thing that comes with my anxiety. They are different for everyone, however mine include; weak limbs (as I mentioned earlier), being unable to breathe, crying, dizziness, feeling your heart pounding, and queasiness. Obviously, the worst symptom is the feeling of being unable to breathe. This can make you think and feel like you are actually going to die or pass out. One of the worst places I have had a panic attack was in a local farm café. That day, I had earlier been handling dangerous chemicals in a chemisty lesson, which we were told would poison us if ingested. I was happily eating my peanut butter cake whilst my mum had gone to order more coffee. My brain (being its irrational self) told me that I had definitely forgotten to wash my hands after touching the chemicals, which I knew I hadn’t. Regardless, on came the attack. I couldn’t breathe and started making gasping noises in the middle of a café. Next to me, a very serious business meeting was going on. I got some wierd looks, but luckily I managed to calm down.

Another panic attack was halfway up a mountain on my silver Duke of Edinburgh expedition. Already being out of breath from exertion didn’t help the situation. The two teachers accompanying us thought I was just asthmatic or something, and was struggling up the hill. Which was fair enough, considering the ‘gasping fish out of water’ noises I was making to try to get air into my lungs. They also made me sit down, which was good as I felt very limp and was glad to stop carrying my 15kg bag up the hill. However, it also made me feel even worse, as I was holding up my group. That one kind of sucked.

Anyway, I wasn’t really sure about posting this blog, but wanted to share some of my experiences with you. I kind of wanted to ‘word vomit’ everything that was on my mind. And if it helped anyone, even one person, it would be worth writing these 993 words. Also, I had nothing to do in my free period…

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2 thoughts on “Don’t Panic!

  1. Ah, the silent , annoying , piss you right off affliction that is social anxiety. Creeps up when you least want it despite logic telling you nothing bad will happen! A necrotic nose would be preferable. I hope it eases with the passage of time for you but it sounds like you have lots of coping mechanisms in place and you will find more as you go along. Keep breathing! Great blog post .

    Liked by 1 person

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