(Editor’s Note: May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and The Smoke Signal asked Pascack Valley students that struggled with their mental-health to tell their stories, some of which may contain sensitive content. This is the fourth article of an eight part series. For this story, the PV student wanted to remain anonymous.)
I have had panic attacks for as long as I could remember. I have vivid memories of having a panic attack in the middle of second grade.
My anxiety and depression is not something I like talking about. In fact, I rarely bring it up outside of my closest friends and immediate family.
Sitting down to write this was one of the hardest things I ever had to do. I don’t like talking about it to therapists or school teachers — I just want it to remain something personal.
I do not want people to think less of me, so I decide to hide it and make sure people see only good things about me. I always make sure people see me smiling or having fun with my friends.
Up until last year, I don’t think anybody knew I had anxiety besides my close friends. As soon as I walked through the doors of Pascack Valley, I would just smile and act like any normal high school teenager. If I ever felt any sort of anxiety coming, I would just hide it until I got to a bathroom.
Panic attacks are a normal part of my days. It would not be a day without one.
The hard thing about panic attacks is that I never know what causes them, so I am never able to find a way to fix the problem. Sure, I know some of the causes, like school work or stress, but there is never a direct reason for why I have them. I really just do not know.
I hope that I take the right steps to make me feel better overall. I am not trying to get rid of the depression and anxiety I suffer, but I’m trying to control them. I am trying to make sure they are not what controls my life.
There are many times that I want to do something, but my anxiety or depression stops me. When my friends invite me to go out to see a movie, I really want to go with them, but sometimes I bail last minute because of my anxiety with the situation, whether it is feeling like I am eating popcorn too loud or I am nervous that I am going to sit next to someone I do not know.
In classes, if we get to choose our seats, I can never sit at the end of the rows. I do not know why, but I just can not. My brain gets nervous about the situation.
My entire life is controlled by my anxiety.
Each morning, I struggle to get up and ready for school. I stay hidden in my bed until the last possible second, trying to convince my parents to just let me stay home. Thoughts swirl through my head of what that day would bring me. What anxious situation would I bring myself into?
For the most part, it is the simple things that give me anxiety. It is the smaller things that most people would not even be aware of that could bring someone anxiety, such as getting up to get a tissue or walking up to the pencil sharpener to sharpen my pencil. I can do a presentation for an entire class, but I can not use a public bathroom without getting anxious.
Anxiety and depression are things that I can let myself take over my life, and depending on my mood, some days it does. I just take things one day at a time, one class at a time, one moment at a time. I never let things get too overwhelming for me anymore, and if I have to do it, I will figure out a way to do it peacefully and stress-free. While it is impossible to do some things like that, doing simple things can make me feel so much better and improve my life overall.
If I ever get too depressed, I just remember that everything in life is only for now. I was never suicidal because of this mentality I have. If anything was overwhelming, I just remembered that it will eventually be over. All the negative things and energy in life is going to end eventually and it will brighten up my mood. I will feel proud and accomplished when it is over.
I also enjoy the positives because you never know when that will end too. I always try to live my life to my best and stay happy because I never know when it will all end.
Life can change in the blink of the eye, and if you do not live every day as your best day ever, life would never get better and my mental health would never improve.