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What It's Like Going to Class With Anxiety


I get there 15 minutes early. I’m too afraid to be late. I’d much rather never show up at all than walk in late. My classmates start to spill into the corridor outside the classroom and engage in their own conversations. I can’t speak. I stand there, like maybe in a strange way I’m involved with them. But I don’t actually have any friends. I open my mouth to say something, and no words come out. My mouth is dry, and my throat feels like it’s closing up. “You shouldn’t go in there.” It’s that persistent voice inside my head. It’s the voice that makes it impossible to fight the urge to turn and run away.

I sit down in my seat, trying to avoid eye contact with anyone. Not because I’m being rude, but because I’m afraid that by making eye contact they’ll somehow see all of the flaws I’ve been trying so hard to hide. If I look them in the eyes maybe they’ll notice that my breathing is uneven, and my heart is pounding so hard that I’m afraid the girl next to me can hear it. Maybe they’ll notice I’m trying my hardest not to cry or throw up or that I have a million thoughts racing through my head. Thoughts so incredibly loud that I can’t hear what my teacher is saying. I’m shaking, and I’m sweating and my hands and feet are numb. “Don’t let them see what’s going on.” She’s going to ask me a question, I know she is. And there it is. I don’t know the answer, and people are staring at me. I’m so stupid. Breathe. Just breathe.

We’re allowed to leave. I practically run out of the classroom and take a huge breath as I’ve escaped that prison. I survived. I’ll have to go back there tomorrow, but for now I’ve made it through. And I’ll continue to make it. One day at a time.

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Thinkstock photo by vladans