Anxiety and panic attacks

To put it simply – for the last 2 months I’ve been feeling miserable.

It really started when I was in London with one of my best friends in the beginning of August. I had just spent 2 weeks in Cambridge at a summer course and then I had made plans with my friend to meet up in London, the day I was supposed to fly back to Switzerland later that evening. I was so excited about spending the day in London! In the morning when I arrived I was fine and we had such a great time, and then we decided to get some lunch. Being my usual self I was absolutely starving and we began eating, and suddenly half way through I felt really nauseous. I had a cold so I thought that the excitement, stress about catching my flight, and eating too quickly had just made me feel a little sick. So I ignored it. I told my friend I wasn’t feeling like myself so we left and continued with the shopping. But the whole time I had this weird anxious feeling, and waves of nausea would roll over me. Eventually, I decided that I wasn’t feeling the best so I wanted to get on the tube to the airport so I could rest at Heathrow. Of course I felt really bad about it because we had planned such a great day. She understood but I still felt guilty.

Whilst on the tube I was a wreck. I felt nauseous, dizzy, panicky and I basically just wanted to burst into tears. The tube journey was quite long and I felt lonely. All I wanted to do was get home – but my parents weren’t even back in Switzerland since they were going to arrive a few days later after me. I couldn’t exactly call anyone because of the bad reception on the tube. Eventually I got to Heathrow and called my dad and told him how I felt, which calmed me down a bit. I checked in my luggage and made my way into the departure lounge.This whole time I just thought I had a stomach bug because of the nausea. But even so, being sick and alone makes you feel very small, and very vulnerable. That’s why I thought that the “anxious feeling” was because of that. After having almost thrown up, I finally got to my gate, feeling like I could die there and then. My parents kept messaging me, telling me that it was okay, and even my grandmother called. I felt relatively reassured and got on the plane. Whilst on the plane, I was so exhausted that I passed out for the entire flight. When I finally arrived in Zurich I was calm and feeling somewhat like myself – although I still felt quite shaky after the whole experience. It was very strange, but I assumed I had just had a bad case of nausea or stress.

However, the anxiety feeling never truly went away. A few days later when my family came back we went to Greece for a week. I was happy and acting like myself, but something didn’t feel quite right. I had still an upset stomach so I kept on telling myself it was because of that. The weird feeling somewhat subsided after a few days but I knew something wasn’t right.

Arriving back home I felt okay for a day or two, but suddenly the anxious feeling became too much. One day I asked my dad if he had ever had a weird “anxious” feeling that just wouldn’t seem to go away. After having asked the question I couldn’t keep it together anymore and I just cried. He obviously got worried, but had a little smirk on his face. My parents and I talked for about an hour about the weird feeling, when it would be triggered and why I was feeling so miserable. That conversation brought us to the conclusion that I was overwhelmed, that it was somewhat a fixated idea that had emerged after my bad experience in London and that I was basically just worried about senior year that was about to begin. Once again I felt reassured and went to bed – after crying that much I was exhausted, to say the least.

The feeling disappeared for a few days and I started school. I was myself but underwent quite a lot of school-related stress, it was senior year after all. The entire week in school I was fine, but when the first weekend came around the feeling came back. I went to a festival with my friends, but we decided to go and have lunch in Zurich first. We went to a sushi restaurant which I love, and I had told two of my friends that I had experienced these weird “anxious” feelings and they agreed with me that it was probably just a phase and I needed to be distracted (one of the friends was the one I had spent the day in London with). Suddenly, half-way through lunch, the nauseating feeling came back. I stopped eating and basically did not have much to eat at all that day. My friends didn’t really notice anything and I didn’t want to worry them. Then, we made our way to the festival and I started to feel better again. When we then got there I was feeling a little bit heavy, and the anxious feeling started to come back slowly. We went to see the first band, and the anxiety almost became too much. My friend saw it straight away and asked if I wanted to sit outside the tent for a bit. I was so thankful that she understood but the feeling didn’t really go away, despite having the knowledge that I was safe. There was lot of people around of course, but I didn’t feel like I was in danger at all. But even so, all I could think was that I wanted to call my parents to come and get me so I could be in my own bed. At the same time, that wasn’t what I wanted to do, because I really did want to enjoy the evening – it hadn’t even started properly! I began to cry and decided to call my mum. I felt quite panicky, my hands were trembling and all of my thoughts were going through my mind about 100 mph. My mum was calm on the phone and just told me to breathe, my friend was sitting next to me, making sure that I was comfortable (although comfort seemed to be impossible at the time). I started to feel calmer so I hung up, but the anxious feeling wasn’t entirely gone. Finally it became bearable, that is to say the feeling wasn’t entirely gone but I still felt like I could enjoy myself. I was not hungry at all but I was feeling much better nonetheless. When the evening then came to an end and we got on a train back home, a group of guys began to harass us (we were 4 girls and 1 guy). I felt extremely uncomfortable, and for the first time actually unsafe (which is unusual since Switzerland is one of the safest places I know). The train security eventually came and they were chased off the train. All of us felt at unease after the incident, but it became too much for me. I cried (can you see pattern emerging…) and felt panicky, which is strange since this seems to be something that I could handle fine otherwise.

The next day I still had a bit of an anxious feeling but I was feeling better – I was home and safe. However, when it was time to go to bed I couldn’t sleep. Not because I wasn’t tired, but because I was feeling shaky again, and my thoughts would not stop spinning in my head. I stayed up for about 2 hours – panicking – until I finally told my parents who helped me calm down, and eventually I fell asleep.

It was then I decided I needed to get help. The next morning I told my mum that this wasn’t right, that the anxious feeling wouldn’t go away and that I needed to see a professional. So while I was in school my mum contacted the school nurse who was extremely helpful, and who also recommended a therapist.

This I feel is like the beginning to my “anxiety chapter”. I choose to see this time as a chapter in my life because I believe – and SINCERELY hope – that this is just an unfortunate time that will eventually pass. I’m glad I got help early on (since this had only really been going on for about 3-4 weeks before I got help). Now I’m seeing this WONDERWOMAN I call my therapist who has already helped me so much. I’ve been told that I’ve got anxiety and panic attacks, which is very common, especially girls my age. This also means that I’m not crazy – THANK GOD! But it is difficult anyway, and it’s hard to explain it to someone who hasn’t gone through it or experienced anything like it. It’s not like it will go away overnight, it is a process, but I feel like I’m going in the right direction at least.

So… this is where I’ll share my thoughts, experiences and crappy feelings. Apparently writing helps with this sort of stuff, so I’m trying it out. So Emilia, if you’re reading this in 5 years – I hope you’ve gotten your shit together by now.

Phenomenal Woman

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size   
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,   
The stride of my step,   
The curl of my lips.   
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,   
That’s me.
 
I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,   
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.   
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.   
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,   
And the flash of my teeth,   
The swing in my waist,   
And the joy in my feet.   
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
 
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
 
Men themselves have wondered   
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,   
They say they still can’t see.   
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,   
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
 
Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.   
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.   
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,   
The bend of my hair,   
the palm of my hand,   
The need for my care.   
’Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
 
- Maya Angelou

In IB we learn the art of procrastination

In the midst of the IB chaos and mayhem, I’m trying to juggle biology labs, economics internal assessment (which by the way, is basically impossible to do well in!), history essays, extended essay research, Swedish self-taught poem analyses, English presentations and IOCs, math statistical internal assessment and on top of that trying to fit in some early revision time for the upcoming practice exams in June, and I can’t help but ask myself: why can’t I just be really good at something? Slightly off topic but may I just add: what a terribly long sentence that was. The IBO would be so disappointed in me right now… Back to my question, it sounds awfully depressing and maybe a little pathetic but currently I just feel like the IB is swallowing me up. I’m trying to keep the plates spinning, all at an equally steady pace, but I think it’s just making everything worse. My English teacher said to us yesterday that we just have to let some of these plates spin a little bit on their own and focus more on others. I think he was just hinting that we should focus more on English right now, but hey. It is a fair point, but how do you choose? Why would you risk one of these plates falling since it will just drag everything down with it? I’m dreading these first predicted grades. 

I guess this is the true dilemma and drama of an IB student. It isn’t necessarily that the content is difficult. Maybe in Bio, but that might just be because I am a terrible biologist. Cells and photosynthesis just don’t make sense to me. It is more that we have to learn how to juggle 6 subjects + TOK + 150 CAS hours all at once. Oh, and lets not forget the beloved Extended Essay. I swear that thing just keeps haunting me. All the time. Honestly, I’ve just been denying its existence for far too long now. Oh dear, my EE supervisor won’t be too happy about that. 

I think this is the best definition for the IB… thank you urban dictionary, I couldn’t have said it better myself: 

International Baccalaureate: A malicious program aimed at the unnaturally brighter population in an attempt to overload their brains, thus reducing them to vegetables without lives. However, a true IB student will respond by adapting and BSing their way through.

I’m only joking. I’m being overly dramatic as per usual. There is a reason why I got the “drama queen” award in 8th grade, just sayin’. For me, it helps to complain about the workload that I get. Somehow, it makes me feel better… Some would just call it self-pity. Self-pity has become my new form of procrastination because I can’t think of a better way to spend my precious time. Genius! 

 

My rant about the horrors of the IB is finally over. For now. 

Lots of love! 

Ambitious or just self-destructive?

Recently I’ve been living in this little bubble of unexpected irritability, continuous anxiety and just overall dissatisfaction. I’ve had strange outbursts of anger where I start raging about the smallest of things that have annoyed me throughout the day. Has it been worth it? Absolutely not. More than anything, it’s only made things worse. I’ve gotten into fights with my parents, clearly annoyed my friends and just made myself feel more miserable about how I react to situations. This has come out of nowhere and so I turned to my best friend google. Here’s a tip – never search for symptoms on google. It will, guaranteed, always tell you that you have cancer. Always. It makes no sense but nonetheless, it got me thinking. What is it that really has made me so irritable?

Expectations. I am so grateful that I have gotten the opportunity to be a part of the IB Diploma Programme. It such an amazing programme that will challenge you and really push you to do your best. Even if it causes you unbearable stress and unavoidable sleep deprivation, it is pretty great anyway. But I’ve gotten to the point where I am constantly aware of what my achievements and failures might do to my future choices. I am such a perfectionist, and I have this terribly disgusting competitive side. I will literally compete in almost every aspect of life possible. It is of course a good source of motivation and ambition, but it is also something that I have a difficult time controlling. I have recently, for example, started to compare my grades with everyone else in my class. I mean, I’ve been aware of my grades in comparison to others’ but now it has become increasingly more important to me. It shouldn’t be though. What I do is completely up to me, and what someone else might achieve has no effect on me or my own achievements. Basically, what I’m getting at is that I have really high expectations. I want to be the best at everything I do and yes, people call me an overachiever or a “try-hard”, but what is really so bad about that? I admire anyone who is ambitious and aims high whether it be in school, work or anything really. But the problem for me is that I have set almost unrealistic goals for myself and in a way, I have always thought that people around me also expect the same high standards of me too.

I am no genius. I’d like to think that I am, but no. A girl can dream though. I need to learn how to handle my stress, my expectations and my goals. Because when I fail to meet my unrealistically high expectations, I punish myself for it. I become so terribly disappointed in myself and I know, I am a harsh critic of myself. But moderation is unfortunately a word that has not yet been included in my vocabulary. A little bit of self-criticism is necessary, because narcissism will only get you so far. There is always room for improvement…. even if you’re Beyoncé.

So to conclude, I need be critical of myself and I need to push myself to do better but I need to find a balance. I’ve become so consumed by my studies and my academic achievements that I have sort of forgotten to enjoy myself. To be honest, I’d rather get a decent grade and be happy, rather than achieving the best and feeling miserable and absolutely shattered. Ambition shouldn’t make you feel more miserable about yourself, it should be a healthy form of motivation. I think there is a fine line between extreme ambition and self-destruction. In some cases, less is more.

POSITIVE THINKING! 

Image

Lots of love… ♡