Why did I feel so terrible...?

90.7 My Tertiary Entry Rank – I'd done it – all I wanted was a score in the 90's. Success! But why did I feel so terrible….?

It was a couple of weeks since I'd finished year 12. My whole life I had been academic, I'd dedicated myself to study, and it was all I had. My home life was pretty lonely, all my mum and dad did was watch television in separate rooms and I didn't really have any close friends. I'd never really known how to talk to people. I was that quiet one who didn't really say anything, I just sat in the circle at lunch time and didn't involve myself in the conversations in case I said something "wrong".

So when I pulled out that score card and saw the 90 that I worked so hard for, I thought it would feel better, all the hard work would be finally worth it! I feel like I almost died when I realised that it didn't make me happy, and there I was with a great score, and no friends to share it with. I'm being a bit dramatic here, I think I had a couple of friends I could call, but they weren't the kind of friends who would "hang out" with me, and they weren't close.

That was the summer I saw a brochure in the waiting room at my GP and it stated…

"Do you have anxiety? Do you sometimes feel nervous for no reason? Do you sometimes feel like you're not coping?"

If not coping looked like sitting in my room for 2 weeks literally playing the same CD over and over again whilst crying, then yep, I was not coping. I had some time to think that summer, and my thoughts were as follows:

  • -If this is what everyone else is feeling, how are they so happy!?
  • -If everyone else is going through this, why do they cope so much better than me?

So I decided to chat with my doctor about it. She was an eccentric older lady who wore bright red lipstick and did lot of tutting, but in a friendly way. I told her that I feel bad all the time and no one else seems to present like that too. I showed her the brochure that I'd picked up on anxiety and said that I felt the things that were written on there.

She referred me to speak to a psychologist and I was so relieved that I was finally getting some help. My psychologist set me weekly tasks to get me confident with making friends with people. Firstly I was to make eye contact with at least one person a day for a week. Then I was to smile at one person a day for a week, and then I was to say "hi" and say "how are you going?" so on. I made a friend that year, I was pretty chuffed, and I connected back with some old friends from high school and with my new found skills, I was able to build closer friendships and I began to feel not so bad anymore.

Today I have such good friends that I could never have imagined I would have. Working on my mental health and learning skills and strategies to manage my anxiety has created a more than fulfilling life for me.

Since beginning at the LETSS service I have wondered – might I have called this kind of service when I felt stuck in my room for 2 weeks? Might someone validating my concerns have encouraged me to get help sooner? Might I have had someone to talk to throughout year 12 and never gotten myself in that horrible place in the first place? I think so….

Image from Unsplash by Anthony Tran

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