If you got that title then you are probably a funnier person than I am. Un-funny post ahead.
Friday was the first time I experienced a full-blown panic attack.
I was planning lessons during one of my free periods when suddenly my mind was crowded with a dozen dozen thoughts. I’d been having trouble with one class in particular and knew that a number of phone calls home would have to be made. I’d had to deal with a child protection issue at school and the distress was only just leaving. Then the thought of facing students, the thought of students just blocked out everything else.
An almost palpable pounding in my ears, a feeling of being sick and wanting to collapse, shortness of breath and shaking are symptoms that indicate panic attacks, I’m told, but no one mentioned that I’d find myself huddled over a keyboard with my hands over my head. No one mentioned the dread in my stomach or the jaw-clenching need to just go home, go home, go home.
As ironic as this sounds, I don’t want to alarm anyone. I figure this is just a sign that I need to find more ways to manage my stress and workload in a very full environment. Yes, teaching is rough, and everyday colleagues remind the rest of us newbies that we’ve landed ourselves in an extremely difficult place, as far as first-year workplaces go. It’s not impossible though, because so far God’s been giving me the strength to endure and there is the kindness of colleagues to get by. I went and got help straightaway: first cover for my upcoming lessons, and then a quick chat with my head of department.
I know that this is something to pray about and something to work through and I’m hoping that as life goes on this wouldn’t be anything recurrent. At the same time I’m thinking about all the times where I’ve heard of other people having panic attacks, where I’ve been baffled by their stories because my young self wonders how anyone could feel so much dread that they couldn’t move anymore. I now stand ashamedly corrected and more empathetic with others who go experience this sort of stress. It’s something that’s happened to Jack, yes, and now it’s happened to me.