I Was Attacked

I feel like I’m on a bit of a run here, talking about my life, but that’s fine by me. Today was interesting, though — today, I was attacked.

The pain was unbearable, the sensation of being choked unlike any I have ever experienced in my life. The tears that ran down my face after I found refuge in the last stall of a bathroom on the third floor of a campus building, one floor down from where my Japanese class was taking place. However, this was no physical attack. Today, I was attacked mentally and emotionally.

I’ve dealt with anxiety for years, probably my entire life if I were to seriously think about it, and I can say that today was one of the worst attacks I’ve had in a long time. Today, I couldn’t do a damn thing.

My attack started around 11:20AM as I was sitting in Japanese 1010, listening to my instructor speak to myself and classmates about what we were about to do. We were, at the time, using our textbook to read a few passages and answer them accordingly. Then, we were told to get our study guides out for the first lesson test of the semester — which will be happening on Monday and Tuesday of next week (writing on Monday, speaking on Tuesday).

I was sitting silently, looking over the pages, attempting to read the questions it was asking in the most basic of Japanese writing, Hiragana (which I had learned in the 1000 level class). My instructor was asking the class round me to answer the questions on the pages, politely correcting them when the made a mistake and helping them get through their speech as fluently and correctly as possible. Although, to my right, there was one student who had answered the first question correctly right off the bat, and decided to sit and listen to the others so he didn’t have to speak again. He was however, commenting quietly in a way that made me believe he was shocked at how the class was performing. Honestly, to me it seemed as if he was completely astounded that the class wasn’t as fluid and quick with their responses as he was — and that pissed me off. Why? Because I’m like them. I’m struggling.

Time went by and I was still sitting silently, looking over the review pages we had, trying to decipher what they said in English so I could answer them when I felt confident enough. Soon, I was one of four people who had not answered a question, so my instructor called my name gently, asking if I wanted to answer one of the questions on the study guide. I looked at her, down at the pages on my desk, into my textbook, and shook my head slowly, because I couldn’t answer.

She politely said “Okay, maybe another one, then” and proceeded to call on a classmate of mine instead. And that’s when my anxiety attack began. It was a rush worse than I had felt in a long, long time. Today, as I was sitting silently, listening to others answer questions and writing the answers down on my study guide, jaw breakers invaded my throat. I couldn’t breathe and as I felt the jaw breakers blocking my esophagus, it felt as if I was laying on my back with a man twice my size standing directly over my lungs.

And that’s when the tears started to collect in my eyelashes. I nonchalantly rubbed them away, acting like I was tired (I actually was, though) and a fake yawn turned into a real one. Then, I heard the guy next to me say something negative to himself once again about a classmate’s struggle to answer a question. And then he laughed. Next, my mind raced. I thought about what he would say if I answered, struggling as I had the entire month with the vocab and speaking. And my body couldn’t take it. I felt a single hear drop from my left eye and walked out of the room, breathing heavily with the jaw breakers still in my throat and the man still standing on my lungs.

I raced down the hall, then took the stairs down one floor while brushing the tears from my eyes and trying to breathe normally for the first time in ten minutes. I was afraid that my instructor may have followed me out of the room, curious as to what had happened, so I didn’t look back and walked into the bathroom on the third floor, locking myself in the farthest bathroom stall. Then, I texted my brother and girlfriend because I didn’t know what to do. I had to calm down somehow but didn’t have any support physically at the time.

I was in the personal Hell I’d dreaded for years — one I hoped I’d never have to go back to. Yet there I was, wishing somebody would help me. I got a few texts back, saying that I’d be okay, that I just needed to calm down and breathe, that it would pass, that I was actually able to do what I was just struggling with, that I knew what to do in class.

I checked my phone for the time after wiping my eyes five different times on an ungodly amount of toilet paper. I read 11:46AM, four minutes before my class was supposed to end. I got up from the toilet seat I’d been on, splashed some water on my face, and walked back up to the fourth floor and my classroom. By this time it was 11:50AM, class had ended, and there were only two other people in the class other than my instructor. I waited patiently, gathering my books and backpack and finally signing up for the speaking test next Tuesday.

The other students left and I approached my instructor. I apologized for leaving abruptly and explained that I had experienced an anxiety attack, which was why I had sat silently and finally exited class without so much as an “excuse me,” or “sorry.” She was understanding, though, and wished me luck in studying and the upcoming test next week.

After speaking with her, I walked out of the classroom and toward the buses, unable to truly understand what had happened, confused as to why I was unable to read the basic Japanese alphabet that I had learned in the first few weeks of Japanese 1000, and wondering how my anxiety had built up so much that I broke down the way I had. Honestly, I still don’t know, and I don’t think I ever will — and I’m okay with that. It’s passed. The attack happened, I’m still alive, and I’m dealing with it as best I can.

Anxiety can be a scary thing. For those who have dealt with anxiety issues before, you know it can creep up unexpectedly and take over mentally, emotionally, and physically. Today, that happened to me. It became unbearable, and I dealt with the consequences. But, that doesn’t mean it controls me. Sure, it did today, but that’s an isolated incident in a much large life I live. I know I can control my anxiety ninety percent of the time, and that’s what I plan to do.

Today, though, I was attacked — and I’m dealing with the consequences.

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