How a Change of Friends Changed My Anxiety

I’m pretty sure that at least once in everyone’s life, they’ve felt as if the whole world is talking about them, making them feel worthless, so worthless that they feel like any friend they do have isn’t really a friend. I struggled in secondary school (high school), during perhaps the most pivotal character-shaping time in my life. I was, unfortunately, fiercely bullied, never physical, so often much verbal, but it was what happened behind my back and indirectly to me, that made my school time a living hell.

This isn’t a sad story, in fact it’s an amazingly happy one, for I gained life experience through this time and, despite how soul-crushing it was at the time, I have come away 2 years later, knowing that I am in fact happy and responsible for my own happiness despite the adversity I may face. 

Let’s go back to when I was doing my GCSE’s and trying my hardest to keep my social life bearable. For some reason, I was a very easy target to those who were bored and fancied a little drama. What I’m not is a victim; I see myself as a part of a situation in which I simply drew the short end of a stick. But remembering it now, I simply cannot find instances were I would have initiated any sort of hate that was done unto me, girls would make a great effort to somewhat ruin my life. Essentially, the lingo between them was to convince every person who thought I was pretty decent, to eventually not think so. Of course there were a few girls that had my back, but this chop and changing of friendships was mind-boggling, where one day I would be supported against these bullies, to the next where they’d be the bully. This was most definitely where my anxiety rooted from, from countless conversations I now realize that this was paranoia that formed inside of me, where I would be so worried that if I left the room, my name would be mentioned in the most unpleasant manner.

I struggled to keep my head up when I couldn’t even go to my form room for lunch without feeling awkward nor able to speak. I found myself in the library, where my sole support was the books I read. Now I know this sounds terribly stereotypical, but I really enjoyed reading, and it was at this time that the words on the page cured the feelings I felt inside; there was finally a solace to my anxiety. These bullying situations happened so frequently that it got to the point where I felt I couldn’t ask anyone for help, for I feared I would be blamed for the terrible things that were happening to me. This increased the anxiety I felt, it wasn’t a simple anxiety, it was one where I’d feel a huge pain in my chest, my hands would tremble (quite literally) and my speech wouldn’t correlate with what I wanted to say in my head.

Getting my GCSE results was my release, I left the school and moved to one where I knew no one; completely a stranger, I was able to re-invent myself. I gained friends fast, I was confident and myself, not scared of what may be said about me, I could engage in a conversation without this sinking, sharp feeling setting in. It was like I was a bird set free. The two best friends I now have were what really changed my anxiety to something that was pretty serious, to something that I only ever feel when exams approach. This development in my character has made me ever grateful to them; they have blessed me with a feeling of content, and for anyone who has anxiety over social problems, knows what kind of heaven this is. In the lead up to exams, they make sure I don’t forget myself, they make sure I am okay and they credit me with the purest form of support that really does get me through.

The main thing I learned from my experience at school is that everything is meant to happen for a reason. I was meant to go through all that I did and feel the way I did, so that I could move and find these friends and understand how lucky I have been, in both situations. My message is that adversity is a common thing, any mental illness is also, common and hopefully a lot more acknowledged within society; yet one can learn from these forms of adversity, whether it be from people or work, to develop within themselves to be better and handle situations in ways they previously thought impossible.

Featured image: Anna Pruzhevskaya

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