Thursday, November 14, 2013

Anxiety, Anxiety, Go Away

I was diagnosed with OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) in 2010. Not only am I plagued by intrusive thoughts, anxiety is another factor.

I've had the symptoms since I was young, feeling shy around new people. By fourth grade, when I went to a new school, rules were a lot stricter. You'd get a detention for doing many things.  I'm lucky that I never got one, but many classmates who were generally good kids got them. 

Sixth grade was a whole new story. The middle school required moving to a new class every period within four minutes. If you were late, you received a one point infraction. Forgetting anything required for class resulted in one as well. Three points were given for rule breaking and five for anything more severe. Any student that had more than two infractions per week was sentenced to detention during lunch. 

Adjusting to this new lifestyle was difficult. My combination on my locker always gave me trouble. I'd frantically run back and forth in between classes for my books, where four minutes were barely enough. My first infraction was for being late to science class. My heart pounded out of my chest as I entered the room.  

By Thursday, I had an additional point for forgetting my student planner. The third, on Friday I broke down in tears. Pathetic, right? I'm a good kid, why am I getting a detention for everyday mistakes?

On Monday, I got a slip in hometown instructing me to go into the auditorium during lunch. I sat down on stage, facing the wall, in front of the whole study hall with the rest of the sixth graders who were as unfortunate as me. Waves of anxiety rattled down my spine for the full half hour. At least I was able to hold back tears this time. 

Tuesday, September 18th, 2007, I got a surprise. The teacher handed me a slip of paper in home room. It couldn't be. I had another detention, a fourth point was given. How? My heart fell to the bottom of my lungs. 

I remember vomiting from how anxious I felt. I ended up going home and sobbing to my mother when I told her what happened over the phone. 

The next day my teacher gave me a sheet that said which teachers gave me points. Someone else gave me one on Thursday of last week without telling me. Since the one on Friday wasn't counted until Monday, that explained why I had a second consecutive detention. 

For seventh grade, I switched to the local charter school who was much more lenient about their rules. It was still hard to adjust to new peers, but I ended up staying another year. 

My freshman year, I decided to transfer to the traditional way of education. High school. 

My first day, almost everyone I knew from sixth grade had changed. New cliques formed  which confused me about who to talk with. During lunch, I mostly sat alone, to scared to introduce myself to anyone. 

I rarely made eye contact which led one classmate to think I had autism. People often patronized me because I was quiet and was socially naïve. The year seemed like an eternity, but I made it through in once piece.

Today, three years later, my anxiety is still present, but thankfully, I'm on medication that reduces it to a lower degree. I've made progress, coming somewhat out of my shell. I still have my moments, but compared to the past, I feel tremendously better. Now all I need to do is talk louder!