What Attending a Highly Competitive School is Like For a Teenager With Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Imagine you have a big test in your Pre-Calculus class. You need an A on this test to pass the class, but you didn’t study and have heard it’s the most difficult test of the year. Sounds stressful, right? Well, everyday is that stressful when you have anxiety.
I should know; I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder when I was nine years old. The definition for it can get a little extensive, so I’ll sum it up for you: if you have this disorder, you experience an unreasonable and excessive amount of worry and stress over almost every aspect of your life. Everyone experiences stress, of course, but I experience stress to the point of needing medication to handle it. So you can imagine that being a student at a school as competitive as Seven Lakes High School can be a little challenging.
My anxiety kicks in the second I open the door of my dad’s car in the drop-off line. I have to maneuver my backpack in all sorts of ways to get out, and I always feel like people are watching me struggle. I look around, wondering if I’m dressed well enough, if my hair is okay, if my t-shirt and jeans somehow don’t fit dress-code. When I pass through the doors and see students with their IDs, I instantly grab at mine around my neck, even though I can feel the lanyard rubbing against my skin.
I have a vocabulary quiz this morning in Spanish 3 Pre-Ap. It’s not an easy class, but I’ve studied, and I could recite the terms in my sleep. Nonetheless, I’m on Quizlet revising the vocabulary until the teacher is handing out the answer sheets. I finish the quiz quickly, then start panicking. I must have messed up. I spend the rest of the class time looking over my answers, looking for faults, and figuring out every single consequence of failing this quiz.
My next three classes are relatively easy: study hall, newspaper, and lunch. That means I’m working on my own for three periods straight, finishing assignments and studying. I go to the library during lunch, because only one of my friends has the same lunch as I do and she rarely goes to the cafeteria. I can’t stand sitting alone at the table.
Next is World History Pre-AP. I opted out of taking AP because I’d seen my friends trying to handle the stress of an AP class and couldn’t find the confidence to do it. I do good in this class: I like history and I’m good at memorization. I’m still terrified of messing up. See a pattern here?
In the hallways, I’m always rushing. I get to every class with plenty of time to spare, but walking into a classroom late isn’t something I ever want to risk.
I’ll be honest, I don’t have a single stress free class. Every class is a repeat of the first.
I think you get the idea, as far as my school day goes. The worst is the night before tests, when I need an A grade to get an A in the class, something my parents insist on. On these nights, I save my homework for study hall and will study non-stop, pausing only for the occasional meltdown. It’s not like the normal worry, but this overwhelming sense of apprehension and stress where I feel like I’m drowning in all the things I have to do.
I’m not saying Seven Lakes is the cause of all my anxiety; I’ve had anxiety since elementary school. But it’s a struggle to stay afloat in such a competitive, cut-throat environment that insists on only producing the best of the best. It can sometimes be too much.
If you are experiencing any type of stress, whether it be part of a disorder or simply a side-effect of school, make sure to relax once in a while. Take a breath, talk to yourself, and make sure to find help if you need it.