“you’re overreacting. sit down.”
Were the last words I heard my English teacher say, as my trembling hands wrapped around the icy cold door handle. Pulling it towards me, it flung open quicker than I had expected. The heavy glass door, swung at a rapid pace, catching my foot in the process, causing me to stumble. Normally, that would have been enough to cause me to go a shade of pink in the cheeks, but not that day. That day, all I wanted to do was get out of that room, and somewhere safe. Wherever that may be.
I glanced left and right, as I stepped out into the hallway. As if bracing myself for oncoming traffic. The hall was empty and echoed as I turned right and traipsed my heavy as lead legs along the wooden floor. The knot in my stomach was tightening. The lump in my throat was growing and rising at a rapid rate as I tried to inhale air. The normally fresh, weightless air was growing heavier with every sharp intake. My hands started to feel alien. Taken over by a tremble that I just could not quell. Everything was heavy and I just felt the need to ‘ground’ myself. And quickly. I knew I had to breathe but it ached to do so, so I held my breath. That hurt even more. And in that moment I yearned for someone to step out into the corridor, to come after me, and check that I was okay.
and yet no one did
At last, I reached the end of the corridor and pushed myself through the door and into the girl’s toilets. Leaning against the cold wall, I collapsed down into a heap on the floor. Everything hurt and I just wanted it all to come to an end. And so I lay slumped on the cold floor. The chilled tiles rescuing me. Grounding me. Resting on an ice cold haven and after what felt like an eternity, the overwhelming crushing feeling started to fade and seep out of me, leaving me frozen in a fetus moment, my mind hushed and my body silent.
That first encounter of an anxiety attack is something that has stayed with me, even after over a decade has passed. I can still feel the sheer panic as I questioned what was happening to me. Yes, I can admit that behind my bubbly, enthusiastic personality, I was normally quite a shy, unassumingly timid character. Even every report card I had ever recieved stated that I was a “shy and conscientious child”. This, however, was something completely new to me and hit me like a tonne of bricks. This was all down to me and my mind, and for the longest of times. I thought that it was of my own doing. That somehow I was in control. Or at least I should have been. Learning and accepting that the way the mind works, and in this case, my mind, were key to my accepting that I wasn’t flawed in feeling completely overwhelmed.
Some days by little things, some days big. Other days it was just a feeling I had or a trigger that would pave the way for the anxious moments and the anxiety to hold me tightly in its claws.Published in