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What My Teachers Need to Know About My Anxiety

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To the teacher who understood my anxiety,

Thank you.

Thank you for everything you’ve done for me.

Thank you for letting me sleep through your class on bad days. You didn’t understand I was up the night before, sobbing and struggling to breathe. I came right in and fell asleep. You had everyone else leave me alone and wrote me a pass to my next class when I finally woke up.

Thank you for sending me out into the hallway. You didn’t know why I was crying. You simply just looked at me and said, “Go.” You didn’t know it was the beginning of a panic attack. You kept the class busy and came out with a pass so I could take a walk around the building and sit in the commons.

Thank you for checking up on me. You had noticed my tear-streaked face and ragged breathing. You simply asked me, “Hey, what happened? Do you need to talk?” Although I shut down and pushed you away, you still continued to offer your support for me at any given moment.

Thank you for allowing me to turn in work late. You never knew I was unable to complete the work because I could never hold my focus long enough to do so. You weren’t supposed to allow me to get full credit for the late work, but you saw potential in me and did so anyway.

So thank you for everything you did for me, even without understanding why you were doing it.

To the teacher who made me feel worse for my anxiety,

I forgive you.

I now understand that you didn’t know about my anxiety. I realize, to you, it looked like I was a typical high school student.

I forgive you for accusing me of faking it. You pulled me into the hall at the beginning of a panic attack. I will never forget the words that followed: “Why does this always happen during my class? It seems like you are making it happen.” You said it angrily before dismissing me to the bathroom with two minutes to “clean up.” You didn’t know your class was a trigger.

I forgive you for gossiping about it. I heard you talking to the other teachers about it. You had asked them if I slept through their classes too, saying I needed to sleep more at night. Saying it was most likely for attention and to get out of class. You didn’t understand it was my way of coping.

I forgive you for never giving me a break. You saw it as I missed so much school because I was skipping. You didn’t know my stomach hurt so bad that I couldn’t walk, that my head pounded so hard that I cried. You simply just kept all the work for me to do with a sticky note and gave me two days to make it up.

I forgive you for watching me closely. You’d make me sit up front right where you can watch me. You always made me answer the question whether my hand was raised or not. You’d always be ready to blame me if I messed up. You didn’t understand I was constantly trying to get you to like me.

So I forgive you for everything you have done to me, despite the fact you didn’t know you were doing it.

To the teachers who treated me like a “normal” person,

Keep doing what you are doing.

Never change, please. Continue with your teaching method, with your discipline method, with everything. Just continue doing what you are doing.

You guys were the ones who made me feel “normal.” Yes, I got treated differently by two different teachers (one good and one bad), but you guys were the main reason my years there were bearable. When I entered your class, I could be treated just like the people around me. For that, I’m grateful.

So whether you had realized what you were doing or not, keep doing it.


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Getty Images photo via Antonio_Diaz

Originally published: December 13, 2017
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