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What Mornings Are Like as a Student With Anxiety

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This is the third time I’ve woken up and reset my alarm for later. If I just get a little more sleep, it will be easier to get through the day. My wrist buzzes again, a subtle reminder there’s a world outside my bed that’s waiting for me to start participating. This blanket is so fuzzy; I feel so safe in here. I know I need to get up. I’ve been watching as my time steadily ticks away… fast approaching my departure time.

Maybe I can just email in sick today, I mean really what would I be missing? I know I can’t afford to miss class, it’s only the second week of school and I need to save those absences for emergencies. But if I stay in bed I don’t have to see anyone, I don’t have to talk to any professors, or try to participate in class. I don’t have to get up and get dressed.

I do my best to shut down the seductive voices in my head urging me to hide and slowly roll myself out of bed. I could tell the professor I have food poisoning. One step at a time.

Food poisoning? You’re so stupid. You’re the reason people don’t take mental illness seriously. But they won’t understand why I couldn’t come. Breakfast, I need to get breakfast. Crap, I’m running out of time — 30 minutes.

I pour myself a bowl of cereal, trying not to pay attention to what’s going on in my head. Maybe I’ll just eat this in bed, it’s so warm and safe.

I know I’ve made a mistake getting back in bed, but I don’t care. I need safety. I need comfort. My brain is running a mile a minute, thoughts bouncing around uncontrollably. Did I check my planner? I know I’m missing something; I can’t go to class if I am missing something. I check the weather for the second time, trying to decide what to wear today. I don’t want to put on makeup, it’s so much work, but I can’t leave the house without it. Your skin isn’t good enough to leave the house without makeup on, and you’ll look sick and tired.

I check the weather again. Jeans and a T-shirt. I can’t put together anything more today. I extricate myself from my cocoon of comfort. I need to do laundry; why is it I never do laundry when I need it? I’m sifting through the constant pile of laundry cluttering my floor, looking for something wearable, something that doesn’t have stains on it, something that smells clean or at least doesn’t smell. Why am I such a slob? Why can’t I be one of those people who neatly hangs their clothes in designated spots, it would be so much easier to get ready in the morning. 20 minutes left. You look terrible in this shirt.

My heart rate begins to pick up. Here comes the nausea, if I throw up I won’t have to go to class… I have to remind myself I decided skipping class isn’t an option.

I don’t think I can do this.

I splash cold water on my face.

No, I can do this, I’ve done it before and I will do it again.

I can feel my past self judging me as I struggle through the morning.

If you did it yesterday you can do it today. Stop being such a wimp. I know I’m not a wimp. I know it took an extreme amount of willpower and strength to get even this far. 15 minutes. You are so useless; you don’t deserve to succeed. That’s not true. Just brush your teeth and put your clothes on. There is no way you are going to make it out the door.

I start putting on my makeup. I have to go to school. 10 minutes. I go check my appearance in the mirror, checking for any stains that have gone unnoticed.

You’re going to be late. This is all your fault for not getting your lazy ass out of bed on time. I check my schedule and check my bag, making sure I have the right books and binders. I’m running out of time… I check my schedule again. Are you sure you have those classes today? What if you packed the wrong books? I check my bag again. Time to get my shoes on. I check myself in the mirror again.

You’re going to do something to embarrass yourself, aren’t you?

I can’t find the shoes I want to wear.

This wouldn’t be a problem if you put them in the closet like you’re supposed to. You do this to yourself. Why can’t you just get your shit together and organize your room?

I finally find the right shoes. 5 minutes. Shit. I check my schedule and my bag again. I know I’m forgetting something, what am I forgetting? I rush back into my room and check myself in the mirror one more time, making sure everything is in place. It ain’t getting any better than this, dude. Give up.

I finally step out the door and pause to check my bag again. Do I have my phone? Where did my keys go? I’m forgetting something, I just know it. I’m not forgetting anything, I’ve checked multiple times and there is no way I have forgotten something. I am so tired, I should have gone to bed earlier last night, when am I finally going to learn? I can feel myself on the verge of tears as I drop my overweight bag into the back seat and climb into the driver seat.

Breathe. Crap, the tire pressure is still low. I am so irresponsible. I don’t deserve to have a car. I just need to focus on driving, just put the car in reverse and get going. I know I’m forgetting something.

I pull out into the road and drive to school. Parking is going to be so hard.

I find a spot after searching for a while and sit in my car. I can’t do this. I can’t go in. I could just turn around and go home.

I know I’m being ridiculous. I’ve made it onto campus, I can do this. What if I see someone I know, I’m going to have to say “hi” and they’re going to ask how I’m doing? I go into autopilot, one foot in front of the other. Can they tell I’m having an anxiety attack? One step at a time. I’m 15 minutes early to class. I’m the first one there. I’m always the first one there. Inhale. Exhale. I sit alone in the classroom, I recheck my schedule and my bag. Inhale. Exhale. I am exhausted.

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Flickr image via avocadogirlfriend

Originally published: May 2, 2017
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