When I graduated from Smallwood Academy in May 2005, little did I know that the following year would change my life forever. There were a number of life events that all worked together to trigger my nervous breakdown. First, my report card looked pretty average with regards to grades. My average was probably in the 60-75% range if I remember correctly. I blame it on my high school years. Like most teens of my age, interests change to relationships and extra-curricular sports, etc. These things like study, also require time as well, and something had to compensate. In my case, it was my focus on studying.
During the Fall of 2005, my parents received a phone call from the Salvation Army with the possibility that we would be relocated to Ontario next year. I had been used to moving around by now, but Ontario? It shocked me. It was scary. My mind started to wander at the ways it was going to change things. I had a girlfriend. I had friends. Ontario felt like a world away. Newfoundland was always home for me. I’m not ready to live on my own yet, but if I don’t, I have to move to Ontario…
In August of 2005, my parents had suggested that I redo my final year of high school to improve my marks and increase my chances of getting accepted into college here in Newfoundland or for in Ontario. I remember feeling that I had already done the necessary research regarding what marks I would need and what criteria would be used in an application. My parents felt it wasn’t enough. Mom/Dad, if you’re reading this, I don’t hold any form of remorse for their decision to make me do my final year again. Looking back at it, I know that they were only trying to give me the best shot at getting into college. In the end, I restarted my last year of high school…
In the Fall, the news of our pending move eventually became public to the church congregation, friends, etc. It caused some difficult times between my girlfriend and I. It was being made more difficult by the fact that I was still trying to process the other events going on in my life. The move to Ontario, the embarrassment and uncomfortable feeling of sitting in classes with friends that were always a year behind me, classes that I had already completed and passed, I was being teased about the fact I was back in school again. They wouldn’t have teased me if they knew how fragile I was becoming. I don’t know if I even knew how fragile I was about to become. I think it was where I had made my first mistake. I kept these thoughts and feelings to myself. Instead, I let the stresses and problems that were happening around me expand. There were plenty of people I could have talked to: family, close friends, etc. I made the decision to withhold my feelings. It’s my only regret in this story.
The next moment I remember is waking up one morning and I was feeling stomach sick and vomiting. I stayed home from school for a couple of days. A few more days would pass and the stomach sickness and vomiting would not go away. It wasn’t until about a week that I started to have feelings of fear, anxiousness, alongside the same stomach sickness and vomiting. I can recall being hunched over the toilet in the bathroom just crying out to God “Why is this happening to me?!” “Why are you letting this happen to me?!” “Where are you?!”.
Over the course of a few more weeks, the stomach sickness would become less and less frequent and strong. I believe that was due to reaching a point where I couldn’t hold anything in any longer and I just started telling my parents anything and everything that I could think of that would be causing me this degree of worry. Talking about my fears, worries, and stresses had been that pressure-release valve I so badly needed.
In 2006, I went and had some sessions with a psychologist, Dr. Manuel. If you happen to come across this blog and read this, thank you so much! There were 10 sessions in total and by the end, I had a name for what was happening (panic disorder) and I was better equipped to deal with it in the future.
Being introverted and reserved as I am, it’s still difficult to put into practice talking with someone when I have something on my mind. My default thought is always that I don’t want to trouble others with my issues, but it’s important that we do. The bible reminds us that it is necessary to share our problems with others:
“Share each other’s burdens, and in this way you obey the law of Christ.”
– Galatians 6:2 NLT
I still frequently let issues just take root in my own mind, let them gather and grow, until its too much and anxiety re-introduces itself. If you are suffering with anxiety, talk to someone, anyone.
So where was God when I was crying out asking where He was? He was there, giving just enough strength to keep going another day. He has a plan for me. He has a plan for you. I believe He was preparing me for this very opportunity.