So every Friday morning I have a 3 hour Psych lecture.
I love this class; psychology is my passion and my professor is incredible.
Today we were discussing Psychological Disorders. Specifically, anxiety disorders.
It's always kind of… weird when that happens. Because everything the prof is saying I already know all too well. And my friends sitting around me make comments, like, "Wow, that would suck," or "How could someone be afraid of that?"
And I just keep my mouth shut. I don't want them to know that I'm the one in ten.
We were discussing panic attacks for a while.
I remember my first panic attack. I had no idea that that's what it was at that time.
I was young, eight or nine. It was summer, and I was at my grandparent's cottage with my cousin, Jess, who is two years younger than I am. We were out in the water on a wind-surfer board without the sail. We were just using it as a type of raft.
My uncle (who had been out in the boat) comes into view. The boat makes big waves, and as he draws nearer, I become completely overcome with the thought that the waves from the boat will rock the wind-surfer board that we're on, and we'll fall into the water.
I completely panicked. I started begging my cousin to help me paddle the board back to shore. She refused, so in my frenzy I began paddling it by myself. When we got close to the shore, I jumped off the board and ran to the cabin my parents and I were staying in and locked myself in there for an hour or so.
I know now that my actions and fears there were completely irrational, but at that moment all I could feel was absolute terror. What's really strange is that I had been on that board many times before, and flipped it purposely many times before. I was a strong swimmer, so I wasn't afraid of the water, and it's not like I would have fallen if the board had flipped. The waves weren't even big enough to flip the board; they would have just rocked it a little.
I still have no idea why I suddenly freaked out like that. I just had a feeling that if the board flipped, it would be like the end of the world. That's all I could think about. I couldn't think straight.
I didn't realize that that was a panic attack until years later.
The next one I had was on the day of a good friend's birthday party. I was around 11 this time. I had been to my friend's house before, and I was good friends with everybody that was going to the party.. but for some reason, the thought of going to that party terrified me. My mother was there to witness this one. I just kept crying and repeating "I can't go, no, I can't go, I just can't." over and over again. She had no idea what was going on.
The next one was over a neighborhood barbecue a friend of my parents was hosting.
The next one was the worst. My parents (who used to be avid snowmobilers) decided my older brother and I should get licenses to operate snowmobiles. I agreed, and we signed up for the course along with my parents' friends' kids, who we were friends with (the boy was a year older than my brother, the girl was a year older than me). The course was to be an all-day thing. Filled with people I didn't know. The time came for us to go in and start the course, and I began having a panic attack. My mom brought me out of the building and took me back to our van to try to calm me down. I was hysterical, though, and after a while she got fed up. So she left, and got my dad.
My dad has always been intimidating. He doesn't like things that don't go his way.. for example, me. I know he loves me, and he always has, but I really frustrated him. He didn't understand why I would have panic attacks. And he didn't know how to deal with them, so he just got angry and yelled.
So my dad came back to the van and tried to make me go back and take the course. After a few minutes of trying to reason with me, he began threatening me, and then yelling. And then he got completely fed up, and said, "You're nothing but a goddamn disappointment. I wish I never had a daughter." then slammed the van door in my face and walked away.
And the next one was over a goodbye party for a neighbour's daughter (who was a year older than me and going on an exchange to Germany).
And yet again my mother got tired of hearing me repeat "I can't go, I can't go." so she called in my dad.
And yet again, he got angry. "Why the hell can't you be normal? What the hell is wrong with you?".
And then, a year or so later we went camping (something we did frequently). But this time was different. Something about it gave me a bad feeling, and I just wanted to go home. My parents refused to leave, though, and refused to let me leave by myself. I just kept getting more and more agitated until finally I begged my mother, who had been cutting up some vegetables, to give me the knife so I could just kill myself. That really shook her, I think. She tossed me the knife, then ran out of the trailer calling for my dad.
That was during the period I had begun cutting myself.
Those weren't my only attacks. Those were just the worst ones. I'd have them sometimes before school in the morning, or if I had to go somewhere.
That's why I began to stay home.
What kills me the most is that my parents saw all of this. They knew I needed help, but still they pretended nothing was wrong.
And then when I was sixteen I began thinking about what the rest of my life would be like. University was coming up, and I knew that I'd never be able to do it unless things changed. So I had to go to the doctor and tell him I needed help. I had to make the appointment. I had to be my own intervention, because my parents would ignore it until it killed me. It slowly was.
So I began seeing my therapist. We started really small, then worked up to bigger things. We discussed some things and helped me see how irrational my way of thinking was.
So when my dad forced me to take a Young Drivers course, I was able to calm myself down and not go into full-out panic mode.
And slowly I began to live again. I owe my life to my therapist.
But it's still hard sometimes. I've got the anxiety under control, but I'm still fighting the depression.
Well. This has been really…
It's so hard not to blame my parents.
I love them, but it feels like they failed me.