Everyone gets them, even the most confident people. Going in to a building full of strangers and unknown rooms can be terrifying.
But, it doesn’t need to be. When I began primary school I can remember crying my eyes out, hiding behind my mums legs holding on for dear life. I can still remember the sick feeling and the panic as she left. It got better as I got used to school but when it came to moving to high school the anxiety set in.
I can remember sitting on the grass in the playground feeling really upset about going to high school; I ruminated about it for months before. Looking back at how I felt I was depressed but obviously at that age I had no idea. When it came to leaving school and going to big school it was very traumatic. Every morning I could cry, I felt so unwell. I would tell the teachers and my parents I felt sick, weak and dizzy and that I had awful pain in my stomach but no one believed me because they thought I was trying to get out of school.
It took a couple of years for a doctor to diagnose me with IBS – all of the stress and anxiety was manifesting itself in sickness and pain. Going in to year 8 and 9 I was much better but during my GCSEs I began to feel unwell again and going to school was a struggle.
I got through the first year of sixth form in the same school although my grades were deeply affected, the second year was that bad that I ended up teaching myself from home.
Understandably I did not want to go to university and had been dreading it for years but my parents were insistent I go, I think they were hoping it would make me confident. At the time I resented them for making me go, it felt cruel. And although university was extremely difficult it’s something I am so proud of myself for getting through and in hindsight I think my parents were right in making me go.
By the third year of university my attendance was very low due to the abundance of panic attacks, especially in seminars. I thought, there is no way I can do a PGCE or a masters when I can’t even sit in a room with other people.
2 years after graduating, and a year after picking up my first book on mindfulness I walked into college, slight butterflies in my tummy but no adrenaline, no sense of panic. I went and sat down, started a conversation with strangers and sat in a classroom with 60 other students for a whole day.
How did I do it?
Moral of the story, please don’t give up because you never know what you might accomplish in the future. I never thought I would be able to walk in to a building without having a panic attack, although I’m not cured, I’m doing pretty well!