“I can’t go in dad. I just can’t do it.”
Those were my words as I sat in the passenger’s seat of the car. The vehicle was parked just outside of my school. My dad sat in the driver’s seat waiting for me to go inside. I hung my head as low as possible, hoping that none of my classmates would see me sobbing as they passed by. After all, I was a thirteen-year-old boy, and I shouldn’t be crying like a little girl.
Scenes like this had become all too frequent for me. It all started happening when I entered seventh grade - emotional feelings of fear and dread overtook me in the mornings and were accompanied with physical symptoms of hyperventilating, dry mouth, and shakiness. It wasn’t that I didn’t like school; in fact, I loved it at one point. Even with my struggles, I managed to maintain a 3.5 GPA. I couldn’t pinpoint the exact cause of my fears, and yet something was keeping me in bondage.
“I hate making you go in, but the law requires you to go to school. I don’t see any other options,” my dad said as he tried to coax me out of the car. Normally, I would force myself to go into my classrooms, but today was particularly hard. My dad finally gave up and took me back home.
A meeting was arranged with the teachers and authorities at the school to explain my struggles. “Panic attacks”, “anxiety”, these were terms that my teachers and principal did not understand. In their eyes, I was just a clever kid who had found a way to manipulate my parents into letting me stay home from school. Only the school counselor, Mr. Williams understood my pain. He too had suffered with panic and anxiety problems as a kid. Aside from my parents, he was my only other advocate.
Mr. Williams helped convince the principal to allow me to attend school only half of the day. I went in at noon and then spent time at home after school catching up on my assignments. I also began counseling sessions. These special arrangements helped me for a while, but then the symptoms began to hit me again.
“Why am I going through this God?” I would pray daily. I just couldn’t figure out why I was experiencing such difficulties.
A family friend asked my parents if they had considered home schooling me. My mom didn’t feel like she was capable of being able to teach me, and so it hadn’t previously been an option. However, my physical and mental conditions were not getting any better, and so my parents pulled me out of public school.
I spent the rest of my middle school years, as well as all four of my high school years, at home. I was angry with God. I felt like he had abandoned me.
“I am a failure,” I would think to myself every day, as I was getting out of bed. “My dreams are ruined.”
I wanted a successful career. How was I going to get that being at home? I wanted friendships and social interaction, but I couldn’t even handle the social aspects of public school.
It finally came time for me to graduate high school. By this time, I had calmed down and gained some control over my emotions. It had been a long time since I had a panic attack.
I was excited about my first week of college, and the thought of furthering my education gave me a renewed feeling of hope - until the anxiety began to build up inside me again.
I started to feel the same terror that had gripped me five years earlier. Thoughts of quitting college began to fill my head. I was ready to retreat into my comfortable shell at home, never to be seen again by the general public. It was at this time, that I began to hear a voice whisper to me.
“Remember seventh grade? Will you keep on running from this demon? Or will you allow me to help you overcome it once and for all?”
It was at this moment that I realized that the difficulties I had faced as a teenager were now helping me avoid ruining my life as an adult. I wasn’t going to repeat the mistakes of the past. I was going to get that Bachelor’s Degree…
And in May of 2006, I did get it. Praise the Lord!
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