This is more than fear.
Fear protects us,
Keeps us safe.
So what is this anxiety protecting me from?
Merely sitting in class can bring on panic,
and then brings more fear
simply because I don't want to have another attack.
I hate school, not because it's hard or stressful,
but because of the anxiety.
It creeps in, slow like fog, consuming like fire.
Why are you here?
I never asked for this.
Books tell me it's simply adrenaline being released in my body.
That's not what it feels like to me.
It isn't simple.
It's all consuming
but sometimes it isn't.
It's shaking and crying and screaming,
but sometimes it's silent and invisible.
If it was simply adrenaline,
wouldn't every attack feel the same?
And there aren't just attacks.
There's the general sense of unease,
the overthinking of every single conversation -
even a "Hi" or "Can I have fries with that?".
It's constantly bouncing my leg.
It's tapping my pencil on my leg.
It's pressing my fingers together over and over,
Practicing a mantra over and over just so I don't focus on the anxiety.
It's hating people touching me, even if it's an accidental brush of the arm in the hallway.
It's dreading talking in class -
and not just presentations.
It's finding it hard to focus one day and being perfectly fine the next.
It's hearing people laugh and immediately assuming it's about you.
It's wanting to stay home so you can avoid it,
but also having anxiety at home for no reason.
It affects every single aspect of my life.
But I can fight.
I know it will never leave,
but I also know I can deal with it.
I can work through it.
I have many times before.
Every class presentation.
Being the leader in group projects or on a contest team.
Performing in a play and a musical.
Making new friends.
Even going to a crowded room, restaurant, store, whatever.
I am able to do all of those things.
Some could see it as a love of suffering,
and they wouldn't be wrong.
I feel I don't deserve to be happy.
I fear being happy.
It's always taken away just when I think
"Finally! I made it."
So I sit and suffer.
But most, I think, would see this as strength.
My anxiety used to cripple me.
I couldn't go to school dances.
I was terrible at public speaking.
I would've never dreamed I would be in a play.
But, slowly, I developed ways of fighting it
of not letting it control me
of allowing it to be here
but not letting it take over.
And now I can do so many things I never thought I could.