I was a confident kid. Period. I can honestly say I never had trouble making friends or getting my teachers to like me. Responsibilities made me feel useful, classroom routines were needed and valued, and instead of shying away from my teachers’ attention I sought it out. When I look back at my early school days it’s safe to say that I was a happy and well-adjusted kid.
But things change, and we grow up.
As my mind and body developed and matured, it wasn’t always in the way I had hoped. In high school the rules changed. The safety and comfort that school had once afforded me quickly disappeared and the pace of everyday life sped out of control. In a sea of faces I was able to blend in but every synapse in my brain screamed that I stood out.
I suffered from crippling, suffocating fear. Fear of the crowded hallways and the classrooms, filled to the brim. The sound of bells signaled devastating cortisol releases that left me in a sickly sweat, desperately trying to hear the teacher through the pounding in my ears.
I began to feel utterly lost and completely confused- my confidence was eradicated, and I began to shrink and hide from those who knew me well.
I can go on describing how anxiety attacks affect the body and the many ways in which a person can suffer from stress, but that’s not the point of this essay. Thanks to an observant and understanding teacher I got the help I needed and found a way to put words to the darkness that had taken over my life.
It would take me years to undo the chemical imbalance in my mind and learn how to cope with what I didn’t understand. Diving deeper into the unknown was the only way I could find my bearings. If I wanted to be free of anxiety, I was going to have to acknowledge that I had it.
I started by talking. I told friends and family what I felt, how my body reacted to stress and what I was worried about. I saw a counsellor weekly, and what started as an awkward and embarrassing experience became vital to my healing.
I found solace in running track, the pounding of pavement replaced the pounding of my heart and my confidence began to return. I thanked that teacher by joining her after-school Drama club and channeled my emotions and my energy into the pursuit of art.
Anxiety was an uninvited guest in my mind and the process of evicting her was a real bitch.
Over three years of high school I invested in developing my mind and spirit and strengthening the connection between them. I still occasionally feel that familiar pull in my chest when life gets intense, but the difference is that today I feel confident and trust in my body and its abilities.
By: Tamara Raynor-Cote
Originally from the Canadian Prairies, Tamara now calls Tel Aviv home and finds her peace beside the sea. An avid reader and poetry lover Tamara always carries a journal with her---- because you never know when inspiration will strike. She loves pushing her physical boundaries and recently bought a skateboard just for the challenge!