I’ve talked about this before, but sometimes, things happen, and it bears repeating: I have anxiety. Not like, “oh no, I’m worried about failing this test I didn’t study for” or “I’m nervous about participating in this social event” anxiety, but more like, “I physically cannot retain any of this information to save my life” *bursts into tears* or “I’m legitimately terrified to speak to other humans” *bursts into tears* anxiety.
I’m bringing this up today because I just took an exam, and I had a panic attack in the middle of it. I studied for it, and even though I struggled to memorize a few dates and definitions, I felt decently prepared, but for some reason, my brain just did not want to make this easy for me. I didn’t expect it to be easy-easy. I knew it would be a difficult exam, but “difficult” quickly becomes an understatement when you add a heaping spoonful of involuntary mental illness to the mix. All anxiety sucks, but when I’m in the middle of a panic attack, I tend to draw a lot of blanks, which is basically the worst thing that can happen mid-midterm. My biggest concern was forgetting all the material I’d studied, and because life is totally hilarious and not at all annoyingly ironic, I had a panic attack that made me completely forget all the material I’d studied.
I don’t know if the same goes for everyone with anxiety, but for me, once I’m having a panic attack, it takes an insane amount of effort to stop having a panic attack. I had 45 minutes for this exam. 5 minutes and 2 questions in, it hit me, and I spent the remaining 40 minutes and 8 questions trying to fight through it. I was able to answer all but one question, but whether or not any of my responses were comprehensible or even legible, I couldn’t really tell you. At that point, what I wanted more than anything else was to burst into tears and run out of that classroom like I was being chased by a serial killer.
It sucks, having this uncontrollable internalized stress monster eat at your life every day. I can go a whole week without a panic attack, but it takes only one to ruin the following week. It’s like a stomach virus. It might only last a day or so, but you can still tell that your body needs a solid three days to recover afterwards. It takes a toll. On your mood, your energy, your motivation… the only thing it doesn’t really take a toll on for me is the desire to eat crappy food and take a four-hour nap in the middle of the day.
So, here I am, fresh out of a panic attack and completely drained. This was not a plea for pity, but a plea for understanding. To those of you who do not suffer from anxiety, please consider yourself one of the lucky ones, because you truly are the lucky ones. To those of you who know where I’m coming from, know that you are definitely not alone, and that I sympathize with you endlessly.
On that note, I think I’m going to go take a nap.