People could tell I had it - I remember a teacher saying “it’s clear you have anxiety....”

My anxiety was most definitely situational. Being at school made an anxious, crumbling, crying mess. I’d get the work done and achieve decent grades, but my attendance was an all-time low, and my mum and I were having countless meetings of alternative options for school. I’m still not sure what it was about school either. I think in the end the thought of school itself became enough to set it off.

We decided that we’d try and drop one A-Level and swap for an AS (which equals half an A-Level) to see if it was the workload that was making me so anxious. I knew it wasn’t, but I thought it might help. It didn’t. I actually enjoyed my AS business classes but I was still missing 1/2 of the week, every week because of it.

After a while the school offered the option to become an external student because they didn’t want me to drop out. This meant that I teach myself at home and pay for my exams. It felt like the best solution I’d get, because I knew deep down I could never dropped out. Only my mum supported that idea(and that’s because she’s the best and supported whatever I felt was the best option for me), and I didn’t want to disappoint the rest of my family. I didn’t actually get the chance to finalise becoming an external student because Coronavirus cut my school time short and cancelled my exams, which is why, in a way, I’m very grateful for Miss Rona and see her as a bit of a blessing.

People rarely go into detail about what anxiety actually does to you. People could tell I had it- I remember a teacher saying “it’s clear you have anxiety....” but you never really here of how people can tell. I think at school I had a permanent face of fear, a “I’m holding in tears” look which I imagine concerned quite a few people. My nails were ripped to shreds, and when I got acrylics to stop biting my nails, I just picked the skin around them until they bled. I did the same with the inside of my lips and cheeks which take forever to heal if you don’t leave them alone.

I’ve also recently learnt about derealisation and depersonalisation which is actually very common with anxiety yet I’d never heard of. It’s that feeling where you feel detached and that everything in the world is vague and lacks significance. Google will offer a better definition than me, but I’d often be convinced that I was the “outsider” of my friends and that I was lesser and further away. I also felt this in every class, I’d focus on this the whole lesson until it was over. I’d often dissociate from a lot of situations, and fall into a spiral of thoughts that I couldn’t escape no matter how hard I tried to focus.

I also often felt alone during these times, but I always confided in my mum, and other times my boyfriend. Sometimes I wouldn’t even say anything, I’d just cry to them and they’d understand, I found that the longer it went on the less I had to say without repeating myself, which made me want to speak less. Which is completely false, no matter how much you feel like a burden on other people, believe me when I say you’re not. I never believed people when they told me this, and no one would ever be a burden to me if anyone reading needs to talk.

To end on a happy note, I’d like to report that since finishing school I am a completely changed person. I still overthink and over worry about things, I feel like that part of my anxiety will never leave me, but since I’ve finished I’ve felt so much happier, my nails and lashes have grown, my skin is clear and glowing, and my family (through a zoom call of course) all say how well and happy I look, so I’m glad it shows because I am a lot lot happier within myself, and I’m proud of that. I’m proud I didn’t drop out in November. I’m proud that I will leave school with 2 A-alevels and an AS-Level. I’m proud I’ve got a job interview lined up for an apprenticeship in the field I WANT after the lockdown is lifted. I’m proud I didn’t give into pressure and apply to university, because I knew it wasn’t the route for me, no matter what everyone else told me.

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