Summer 2016. I was asked to do a presentation on mental health at a local secondary school. Trouble was, I was feeling pretty lousy and anxiety was taking over my life once again and destroying the things I hold dear.
I went out. Got on the tube. Still in terrible panic mode. In fact I nearly turned back several times. I got off at my destination and walked very gingerly to the school. Panic and anxiety were taking their grip and I had nowhere to go.
I arrived. My colleagues turned up, including my line manager. She asked how I was and I replied “No, I’m not, I’d rather not do this”. She asked her colleague to take over and I just walked, head down, to the classroom.
I sat in the corner of the classroom, making sure the presentation was working well on the computer. The class was full of 30 or so kids of around 13 years of age. They didn’t what was going on and the torment I was going through. My breathing was shallow, and I continued to keep my head down and not make any contact with anybody. It was a horrifying experience. I was in complete meltdown and quite scared.
Soon, the ordeal was over. I made my excuses and left. That’s how anxiety and panic can infect every fibre of your being and cause you to become a non person, so to speak. There are many other examples of this, but one such where I felt lost and very afraid, like being in a forest with no way out.
That was then, this is now.
Allen Brooks xx