The closest I’ve ever come to a panic attack was when I was laying in my bed the day before the first day of my freshman year of high school.
So I thought I’d address this significant event in my life under the belief that many people experience the same and worse.
I was 14 years old and ready to start high school the next day. I felt relatively alright during the day, but as soon as my head hit the pillow that night, I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep.
My thoughts swirled in an almost tangible way they never had before—keep in mind, I had only been dealing with symptoms of Anxiety for a few months, so I was entirely unsure of how to deal with it.
I was sweating and I was horrified of nothing in particular. I stood up because I thought maybe going to the bathroom would be a good idea, thought it might get my mind away from itself.
I stood in the doorway to my room and I felt pulled in all directions. I thought then to myself: “I’m either gonna tell my mom what I’m experiencing or kill myself.”
By the former, I mean I would go sobbing to my mother and tell her how horrible, how frustrating my thoughts had been for those few months while I was working a job at a waterpark.
My thoughts transfixed on both of these things, and both were horrible.
I don’t remember exactly how the throbbing existential fear came to pass, but I ended up doing neither. I avoided making an infinitely regrettable mistake but also avoided the possibility for help. I was indecisive and nothing changed.
At the time, I had only recognized I had an issue with anxiety for a few months, and I believe that’s the worst and most acutely I’ve ever felt it. Usually, my anxiety is dull, repetitive, and tiring. It had never before been so explosive and horrifying.
Causes of School Anxiety
School is a breeding ground for fear, especially to those more susceptible to it. Let’s go over a few different possible causes, shall we?:
- Fear of social interaction
- Fear of failure
- Fear of academic performance
- Fear of uncertainty
- Fear of attention
- Fear of shootings or other physical threats
- Fear of contracting a disease
- Fear of bullies
- Fear of boredom
- Fear of loneliness
My god, and those are the most regular ones I could think of. It’s no wonder that after we spend 3 months away from it, our confidence about school fades away.
That can make going back terrifying; you may convince yourself that you won’t be able to get back into a regular school routine.
I’m starting college later this month, and so some of those fears are prodding their way to the surface, with the additional fear of splitting apart from my current friends.
How to Deal with these Fears
Almost every worry related to school are about things that haven’t happened yet. Which doesn’t just remove the anxiety, but it can help to recognize you’re scared of something imaginary.
So if you’re stuck right now with a frustrating cocktail of emotions, here’s what you can do.
First, recognize that fear is normal. It may be unannounced, and it may try to convince you it isn’t, but as far as school goes, fear is standard among students. Therefore, if you talk to another student about how you feel, there’s a good chance that they will have shared some of your feelings or could at least offer some insight based on they’re own experience.
Next, recognize that sometimes your anxiety is going to be worse than other times. It’s really difficult to take anxiety in stride, recognize it will pass, and become okay with it. Because each time you feel it, it feels worse than the last.
Know that you have no obligation to be unprepared. Instead of dodging the idea of school, spend some time thinking about it on purpose. Do what you have to do to feel as ready as you can. Pack what you need early. Start going to bed and waking up at times closer to those of a regular school day. Show yourself that you’ll be able to acclimate.
I wouldn’t recommend doing it every night, but if you want to take a sleeping pill before the first day because you can’t get to sleep, there’s no shame in it. We’re all different—we need to learn how to live for ourselves and disregard others. (Within reason)
And if something specific is bothering you, realize what you can do to change that. Because there is always something. And if you need help picking and sticking with a next action, comment or leave me a message—I would be elated to help in any way I can.
Back to school anxiety is normal. You may get it worse than others, but it’s normal. Through preparation, you will minimize the anxiety by turning it into excitement.
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