I had my first panic attack when I was seven years old. My primary school teacher lived on the same street where I lived and I used to walk to school with her. We would go to school in the morning, come home for lunch and go back to school for the afternoon. One day, I took a bit longer to finish my lunch and she had already gone, but I didn’t know and waited for ages outside her door, after a while and went back home and told my mum she didn’t come. When she saw me, my mum made a big deal out of it and told me to go to school fast because she would have gone already. I don’t think my mum meant to scare me, but I just got so worried for being late, I cried my way to school running and by the time I got there, I was hyperventilating unable to produce a word. I was in such a state that everyone thought I had been attacked on my way to school. When I calmed down later on and managed an explanation of my worry for being late, the teacher – maybe out of relief – and all the class laughed at me. I didn’t understand why was that so funny at the time, although I have used the episode to illustrate my innate sense of punctuality.
I can see why for an adult, at the time, that seemed like a very silly reaction on my part. I agree that it was indeed. But unfortunately, it doesn’t illustrate only my sense of punctuality; this is also a proof that I am a born worrier. And in the years to come, I have become really good at it, an expert I would say. I have been so good at it that I have suffered from insomnia for years, maybe most of my life. Even though I don’t worry as much now, I still see a whole night of sleep without interruptions as a luxury. The problem with worry is that it is the most useless waste of time; the Cambridge Dictionary online defines worry as ” to think about problems or unpleasant things that might happen in a way that makes you feel unhappy and frightened“. The key word here is might; when we worry, we think about things that haven’t happened and may never happen. There is no purpose whatsoever in worrying. While we worry we don’t make anything better and we just get consumed by anxiety; worrying is one the habits that I blame for my anxiety and depression. Sometimes the silliest things would consume hours of my time in useless worry; like for example this one time when I had to travel for a job interview and spend the three hours of my journey worrying about the ring I was wearing – ‘will they think this is too bold?’, ‘will I miss this opportunity if I’m wearing this ring?’, and so on. In the end, I decided, well this is who I am and I am not going to hide it. It turns out I got the job and the interviewer even complimented the ring and even said that it showed my individuality. So, while I could have enjoyed the journey reading a good book or even relaxing, I was just feeling sick to my stomach for nothing.