My Anxiety Story, Part 2: Sophomore Year

Monday, July 30, 2012

First I would like to say, the point of these posts isn’t to make you feel bad for me or for me to create some sob story. The point is to bring hope and light to those who may be struggling with anything in their life. Anxiety has been something that I have to struggle with. I feel like coming out and talking about it has always helped me become stronger and more hopeful. I just hope I can help anyone out there reading this feel the same way.

I am happy to say that my sophomore year of high school wasn't all that bad when it came to handling my anxiety. The attacks weren't frequent at all and so I would say that I didn't really need to handle it that much.  I actually don't remember that much from my sophomore year when it comes to anxiety attacks. I did get really sick the summer after my 9th grade year though. My immune system just crashed and I would imagine it was from all the stress. My hair also started to fall out and, I developed skin rashes a lot easier. Later I found out that I had stress induced psoriasis. My mom and I didn't really know what to do with the hair loss or the on going colds. We assumed it was just my body adjusting to the new step in my life that was high school.

My sophomore year started out great. I made new friends. I made Sophomore class president. My teachers liked me. I was doing well in my classes. There wasn't much getting in my way. I was feeling very much at ease. But everything changes as the year progresses. I think we become comfortable with our teachers, classes, and friends. Too comfortable maybe. We start letting our guard down. People's true colors start coming out, and you realize you're not as good at math as you thought. I think everyone reaches a low at some point during the school year. I just took mine really hard. 

I started feeling incredibly insecure, because there were new girls, new styles, new clothes to wear, new ways to do your hair. There were new boys to impress. I had friends coming and going from my life. As an officer, I had to answer to the whole sophomore class, and impressing 500-something sophomores isn't exactly the easiest thing. Also, having one of your best friends always competing with you never helps. Like I said, I started feeling insecure. I compared myself to everybody. I didn't feel happy for other people anymore. I felt sick to my stomach all the time. I felt bad for myself if I didn't get the credit or recognition on an assembly, or poster that we made in student government. I got nit-picky and emotional at every single thing. My anxiety was creeping up on me. I could feel it in my throat. I knew it and I hated the feeling. I thought it had gone away, but it was getting worse. 

I started lashing out at home when the homework got hard. I would blame my stress on everything. Nothing was good enough. I saw a fault in everything I did. My advisor was upset because I didn't plan out the officer duties well enough. That skit in the assembly was a failure because I wasn't funny enough. He/she is always going to be better at that because I don't have the resources or work ethic that they do. I will never be pretty like her because I don't wear the right clothes, or makeup, or hairstyle.  I started wanting to be alone because everything and everyone started to bother me. Everything would trigger a sweat, an upset stomach, or a new break out on my face...or worse a new raging rash.

So now you're probably thinking..."Dani, you said your sophomore year wasn't that bad." and it wasn't. Seriously, if want to hear about my bad years wait until my junior and senior years. This all happened in like 2 months out of the 8 or 9 in the school year. That really isn't bad when you think about it. So yes, I just had an onslaught of anxiety in a matter of two months, and that's usually how my anxiety goes. The nervous feeling will always be there but it won't emerge or transform into a monster until something really triggers it, and around those two months that I had the biggest attacks I had an assembly to plan, a dance to organize, and tests to take. I was also worrying about my schedule for next year, and I was in a rough patch with friends. It's funny and really sad that a lot of my anxiety revolves on how I think people perceive me.

It amazes me how I can have a good 7 months of school, but one thing can just transform 2 months into misery?.Although, it wasn't nearly as bad as it was going to be. I knew after that school year that I had to fix something. I knew something was wrong. I knew something was messing with my head. I knew that I had to put the reigns on this, but it's easier said than done. I will tell you right now, that I didn't get a hold on my anxiety until my first year of college. So yes, it only gets worse from here, BUT it gets better. I promise.

The two months passed on, and I was able to get back into the normal groove of things. I shifted into feeling quite happy. I was happy again. I still worried though about the stress that I would face again. That's the problem with anxiety. It lingers and it's a trigger for triggers. Once I think about anxiety I feel it, and then it triggers another feeling. I hope one day I can just stop thinking about being anxious. I hope I can put it behind me. I don't want to let it define me. Never. Ever.

I think that's very important. Don't let your struggles define you. Let them REFINE you and make you a better person. Let them make you want to be better. I know that I wanted to remember my school year for the good times not that bad. Who really wants to focus on the bad? No one. Instead turn the bad into good, and let the sad moments be washed away by the happy ones. 

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