Going into Year 11 with anxiety.

It is currently the 6 weeks holidays in England. Come September, I will be in year 11- the year that I do my GCSE exams which will impact how the rest of my life goes. I need to pass my exams i n order to get into sixth form, which is my goal, as I wish to go on to university after that. Currently, I do not feel ready to do those exams (or year 11 in general) . This is mainly because of the state of my mental health.

I struggle a lot with exam situations as it is – which has been recognised by many of my teachers throughout year 9 and 10. It seems to be that I’ll learn all of the stuff I need to know for the exams, I’ll work my backside off and revise for extortionate amounts of times, to the point where facts about Nazi Germany and the ‘Guru Granth Sahib’ are coming out of my ears; but as soon as it comes to the exams … I KNOW NOTHING!

In exam situations, I panic. The second I get that test in front of me, I think ” I’ve forgotten everything, I can’t do this, I’m going to get it all wrong and my teachers are going to hate me!” Which of course, is ridiculous – I know this, I do. However, in the moment, all logic leaves me and my anxiety takes over.

It seems that as year 10 has gone on, I’ve been doing worse – not better. For example, at the beginning of the year I was getting a consistent level 7 (an A) in History and Philosophy&Ethics. Now however, I’m getting a 3 (a D) in History and a 4 (a low C) in Philosophy&Ethics.  I had a conversation with my History teacher about why this might be, and of course, we both knew that it was because of my mental health.

As my anxiety has been getting worse, and I’ve been having panic attacks more frequently, I have been in lessons less. This of course means that I’m not going to do as well. Although when I’ve missed lessons I’ve always done the work, I know that in order to do my best work I need to be IN the classroom WITH the specialised subject teacher. When my teacher gave me my result, she said “I know that you’re not going to be happy with this result, but I am not worried at all”. She then went on to say that when I did the exam, I was not “in the best frame of mind”; by which she meant that I’d been out of my lessons that day because of panic attacks and did the assessment outside of the classroom.

Although I know that I can do well in my subjects, it’s becoming harder and harder to do (or even imagine) because of my mental health. Exams stress me out to the point where I stay up all night to revise for them because I cant sleep anyways and after I feel so bad about it and therefore myself, I just admit defeat and wait for the bad result. For example, after one science exam, I knew I’d done badly, and I got so stressed about it to the point where I had to miss the next two lessons because I was panicking and crying uncontrollably and I didn’t know why.

I know that I have to do my exams, and I know that there is no way round it; but right now, I wish that I could start year 10 all over again , just so I can relearn all of the things that I’ve missed when I’ve been unable to concentrate because of my anxiety, or that I’ve missed entirely because I’ve had to leave the classroom for a panic attack.

Whilst all of this is really negative, I know that there are some positives. For example : I have the most wonderful teachers who help me through all of the tough stuff and comfort me when I’m struggling. They are all unbelievably understanding and do all that they can to make sure that I will do well. On top of this – They believe in me even when I don’t, and they make me want to do well, even when I have no motivation for myself.

This academic year, I am going to try harder than I ever have before in order to do well. I was told by an amazing teacher that I only have to pass my GCSEs not get an A* , as they are only my step up to sixth form, and they are the grades that will get me into university. This is now my goal. I used to be so set on getting As and A*s in EVERYTHING; but now I’ve decided that as long as I can pass everything, I haven’t failed.

After all:

Most great people have attained their greatest success just one step beyond their greatest failure

Thanks for reading
-Amy

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Reading (and How it Can Help With Anxiety)

Reading

And how it can help with anxiety.

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I have experienced Anxiety for a few years now, and even before I knew that I had anxiety, I had begun to develop some coping mechanisms that worked for me. In this post, I will be discussing how I use reading to cope with my Anxiety and how it could (hopefully) help you- whether you have a diagnosed Anxiety disorder or you are just feeling stressed in your current situation.

It has been proven that reading is an amazing way to help with stress. Before I knew that I had anxiety, I assumed that I was just stressed (as did everybody else), as nobody ever assumes a (seemingly) confident 12 year old that performs on stage as often as possible has any sort of mental health problem. So I began reading more as a way to dissolve that ‘stress’. I soon realised that it was, in fact, working. I developed a love of reading that I had never really experienced before and when I learned that I had an Anxiety disorder, I continued to increase how often I was reading; as the more time I spent reading, the less time my mind had to wonder to all of the possible disasters (that could never actually happen) that could occur.

For me, reading a new book is a new way to escape – An entire new world per book that I can use to distract myself from my extra-anxious mindset.Still, to this day, there is not much that can make me feel better than sitting down with a good book and a hot cup of tea. Re-reading an old favourite can act like a comfort blanket. It may sound cheesy; but it genuinely feels like I’m visiting old friends.

Here are three of my favourite books (and my favourite quote from each) that I always return to at a particularly anxious time:

  • The ‘Harry Potter’ Series by J.K Rowling
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    because it reminds me of the feeling I had when I first read the Harry Potter series of such total belonging and you could almost say magic (pun intended).

    “Of course it’s happening inside your head Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it isn’t real?”

  • The Hunger Games’ by Suzanne Collins
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    because it makes me feel grateful for our slightly crappy world, as we are lucky enough to not live in such a dystopian world where children are sent to fight to the death.

    “Hope is the only thing stronger than fear”

  • The ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’ Series by Lemony Snicket
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    because I get so quickly engrossed in the way that the narrative is written and it makes me feel as if I am watching the events happen with my own eyes, rather than simply reading about them.

    “What might seem to be a series of unfortunate events may in fact be the first steps of a journey”

I have more of my favourites on my Goodreads profile:
https://www.goodreads.com/dobby_lovegood
Another way that reading can help with mental health in general (not just Anxiety) is that there are some wonderful mental health fiction nowadays. For example:

  • ‘Am I Normal Yet?’ By Holly Bourne
    which explores OCD and does not, in any way, sugar-coat it.
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  • ‘All the Bright Places’ by Jennifer Niven
    which explored depression and grief/bereavement in an honest way.
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  • ‘Finding Audrey’ by Sophie Kinsella
    which, although isn’t my favourite in terms of ending/ plot resolve, shows the mindset of a teenager with sever social anxiety/agoraphobia.
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There are more and more mental health related books coming out each and every day, some of which are genuinely helpful and honest. These types of books are especially good when you don’t understand why you feel how you feel, or feel alone in what you are feeling, as the characters that are experiencing the same issues/feelings as you, can make you feel like you are not alone and sometimes, just the fact that someone has written about something you identify with, can help.

Now, I could go on all day about how amazing reading is and how it can help you- but really, mental illness isn’t something that you can just turn off. I said that reading can help with my anxiety (which it can), but only when it is at a controllable state; which you must keep in mind. Books cannot solve everything, but can certainly help distract from those feelings which we wish to avoid and sometimes help us understand ourselves through the eyes of somebody else- real or fictional. (which has to be a positive, right?)

All in all, I recommend that you go put the kettle on, make yourself a cuppa and sit down in a quiet and comfortable environment with a good book. After all :
Image result for quotes about readingThank you for reading
-Amy