When I was a toddler/kindergartener, I had separation anxiety which is not uncommon for that age group. We lived on a first nations reserve at that time until I was almost six years old. On the first nations reserve, we were one of the only white families. When we moved to a city where I began grade one in a public school, I had a major culture shock. I made friends with kids that had brown eyes and dark hair because that was what I knew. I don’t personally remember much from the time I went to that school but I do remember some of the kids being rude to me and picking on me.
When I was eight or nine, we move again to a small town where I went to a Catholic school. I also don’t remember much from that time but my friends from there remember that I was a very talkative kid in class, so much so that I would get in trouble for talking in class which is unbelievable considering I have trouble answering questions and asking questions in class now. One thing I do remember from this school was the fact that I never could figure out who was actually my friend. Everyone seemed friendly but I always had a feeling they were just pretending to be my friends and they didn’t actually care about me at all.
When I was ten or eleven, we moved to a small city and once again I went to a Catholic school (though you would not be able to tell it was a Catholic school if you heard my class’s language). In this new school, I was friends with everybody in my class for the four years that we lived there. I remember being scared to ask teachers questions during class. Although I was friends with everybody in my grade, there were still people I was scared to talk to in groups of their friends and becoming even more paranoid that my female friends were only pretending to be friends with me which were strengthened when they started teasing me about my love of science fiction and “nerdy things”. I ended up spending a lot of my time hanging out with my male friends which once again caused my female friends to tease me, accusing me of having a crush on all of my male friends. I remember being extremely conscious of other people’s opinions of me which is something I’m still working on to fix. I also remember the intense fear that would come over me anytime we were told we were going to be doing a presentation to the class because that thought terrified, and still terrifies me today.
At fifteen, we moved once again to a larger city where I went to a public school. It was here that I discovered that there was something not quite right. I was always anxious that my friends were going to desert me, that I was going to get in trouble in class, that I was going to fail all of my classes. Basically, anything that might go wrong, I believed that it was going to happen. I had my first full-blown anxiety attack during my last year there, during a mental health awareness day ironically, which was pretty terrifying. Thankfully, I had some good friends with me that made me laugh which helped me recover faster.
Once again, we moved to the same small town as before when I was almost 17. I was able to reconnect with some of my old friends from when I was nine. Even I used to know them a while ago they were all different and some of them noticed a big change in me. I was no longer the talkative student in the class, I was the kid who never talked and cried during class when told to read out loud to the class. One of my friends noticed this and made sure I was doing okay in class and helped me relax during or after anxiety attacks that I had. Most teachers at that school let me do presentations to them instead of the whole class and were very understanding if I had to leave the class because of an anxiety attack. My graduation was very stressful because of the anxiety of being in front of so many people but I just focused on the music which helped me relax.
This year, I recently turned nineteen during my first year of college, two time-zones away from my Mom, Dad, Brother, and my two cats. It has been very stressful but I am getting the hang of it excessively with the extra help of my antidepressants for my social anxiety. I have been able to talk with my five roommates and take the bus by myself. Although I am doing well in my dorm and in my school work, I still have yet to make friends outside of my roommates who I don’t actually know if I could even classify them as my friends, they are more like acquaintances that I live with.