I was speaking to my Mum the other day about how I've always been an anxious child even from being very small and since then, random memories about strange things I did growing up which could (not certain, i'm not a psychologist) have pointed in the direction of anxiety. I spoke about how uneasy I was (and still am) while out in public with friends and family in this post but here some more of my personal memories that show similarities to the way I feel nowadays.
The memory me and my Mum were speaking about was my behaviour when I started secondary school. I was 11 years old and since my first day of secondary school, I went off breakfast. I didn't eat it and it was because I always felt sick in the morning. I was scared I would be sick on the bus or at school if I ate my breakfast so I started throwing it in the bin, or leaving it on the side and running out the house before Mum noticed. Then when she started to notice, I used to come down for breakfast earlier than anyone else and pour a tiny bit of milk into the bottom of the bowl so it looked like i'd eaten my breakfast, but obviously when the cereal wasn't getting eaten, my parents found out again. (I will just add, I was vegetarian at the time and very petite body shape wise, so my parents had a reason to worry about me not eating.) My Mum then confronted me and asked why I wasn't eating breakfast and I told her it wasn't because I didn't want to, it was because it made me feel sick, so she took me shopping to buy something that wouldn't make me feel sick in the mornings and the only thing I chose out of the whole of Tescos was jellies fruit pots. Fair enough, it did work. I ate one a morning, but still felt sick. Gradually over the course of 3 years and as I got older, I moved onto cereal bars but that was because as a 14/15 year old girl, I had no time for breakfast in the morning(!). I believe that this 'sickness' I felt for a good 3 years of being at secondary school was nervousness about the bus journey and school itself. I had lots of friends, there was typical girl fall-outs, and being in an all girls school, there was obviously bitchiness, but as soon as I got to school, the sickness went. Still to this day, I know when I'm having a not so great day when I wake up and find myself feeling sick, and nausea is a regular feature in my panic attacks too.
Which leads me onto a general memory. I always remember having one group of friends at school really, but this group would obviously split and mingle with others when typical girl-ness got in the way. I would always always always do what anyone told me to and everyone knew that. I wouldn't say I was ever 'bullied' but if someone said to me, go to the canteen and fetch me a sandwich, I would do it. This behaviour is 100% related back to my social attachment anxiety and the fact I have a fear of being rejected and a fear of people not liking me, so I did everything everyone asked of me. A lot of friends knew this and would tell me to stop letting people walk all over me, but I never saw it like that. I just saw it as doing something nice for someone else. I'd be the one to tear my hymn book in half to save a friend from getting a detention for forgetting hers, and risk getting a detention myself for ripping mine up. I'd be the one to fetch and carry things for other people or lend people money I didn't really have to lend out. Bad move sometimes, but to me, I was always just doing something nice for others. To be fair, looking back now, a very small amount of people took advantage of the fact i'd do anything for anyone, but a lot would step in and tell me not to things because it wasn't fair on me. The fear of not having anyone like me and having people not want anything to do with me is still apparent in my personality today but I think back then I was a lot more naive and immature to realise when people used it to their advantage. Nowadays, I can tell when people are walking all over me and although it takes a lot of courage, I do say something. It's hard when I have an irrational but very loud voice inside me screaming "Don't say anything, just do it! They'll hate you and you'll never have any friends" but I have to to be good to myself.
Memory 3 made me laugh when I remembered it. In primary school, there used to be a library van that would come to the school every Thursday after Lunch and we would be able to go into the van and choose a book to have for a week until the van came again. I chose a book and took it home and throughout the week, it somehow ripped. Just one of the pages ripped but it had ripped down half the page. I only noticed it in the car on the way to school the following Thursday morning - hand in day. When I saw it I felt sick. I felt like I didn't want to go to school, because if I didn't go to school, I didn't have to give the book in today which means no one would know I ripped it. I went to school nonetheless and I spent my whole morning totally distracted by the fact I had ripped a library book and it was sat in my bag and the librarian and my teacher would hate me. I thought about fixing it but didn't have a anything to fix it with. The saddest bit of this memory is I distinctively remember walking up to the library van with my classmates to exchange books and feeling panicky that everyone would hate me when they knew I ripped the book. In the end, no one even noticed and I chose another book and went about my day. Best afternoon ever. But again, its that same familiar feeling of "everyone is going to hate me" that I still get today.
This ones funny too and I know if my Dad and Brother read this they'll be laughing along, even though at the time it was not funny for me. When I was about 7, my brother was 5 and we were playing in the garden swinging from a conker tree that my Dad planted when he was a boy. The branch broke. A big branch that stuck out into the garden. My brother turned on the 'I'm telling Daddy' and I told him if he did that i'd tell Dad it was him. Obviously. I honestly thought, even as a 7 year old that my own Dad would hate me and never speak to me again if he knew I broke the branch, so me and Bradley decided to hide the branch in a nearby ditch and collect all the brown felt tips in the house to colour the broken section of fresh new bark on the trunk. We spent ages colouring in where the branch was in hope that Dad wouldn't notice. Nothing was said and every day I looked at the tree and hated myself for breaking the branch and was scared every day that Dad would realise and hate me. 7 year old me genuinely struggled getting to sleep because of the fear that Dad will hate me and wouldn't love me anymore, and would that mean I would have to live with Grandma and Grandad.....I know.....irrational. He never mentioned it. He knew and we still laugh about it today but he wasn't even mad. And FYI my Dad doesn't hate me and I am still welcomed into the family home and don't live at my Grandmas.
I'm sure there are a lot more memories, and a lot of my childhood is remembered because I relate to the feelings I felt then to how I do now. I can tell you the exact timetable of activities the Summer Club at the local leisure centre held the day Mum took me and my brother there because the feelings I felt there are similar to ones I feel now when I do feel anxious. Some of you might think, 'yeah, but loads of people feel like that', and that's the point. This is anxiety and everyone will feel anxious at some point in their life, but for me, it gets worrying when I realise I never grew out of my already-weird childhood fears like all my friends did. Normal 7 year olds are scared of the dark, I was scared of people hating me or scared that i'd go to a kids club or friends party and my parents wont pick me up and i'll be left there forever. I don't know why I haven't been able to grow out of these sorts of fears, I know where they stem from but I honestly don't think anyone does hate me or ever has done (that I know of). All I can do is learn from my memories, realise they are part of who I am, and learn how to cope with situations that may bring me anxiety or panic better.
Love Luce xo