How Acacia copes with her back-to-school anxiety

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Fall – what it means to me
By Acacia Philcox

When I think of fall, the first thing I think of are the stresses of school. They may not seem like big things to most people, but they are to me.

Tests, friends, enemies, homework and isolation are what I think of when I think of going back. And this year wasn’t any different. Walking through those school doors, I felt an intense rush of emotions. Fear being the biggest one. My heart was racing through my chest and a million thoughts collided in my brain. All I wanted to do was to run home and hide. It wasn’t the first time and I know it wouldn’t be the last, because of the bullying I endured in the past. It made it hard for me to believe that everything would be okay.

The crowded, chaotic hallways always made me feel closed in. There was so much going on. New students were running around trying to find their classes and everyone was pushing and shoving. It was feeling like a mini battle to get to my new class. Suddenly walking through my new class, I remembered that my best friend had transferred out of French immersion. Sitting down in my chair I felt totally alone and started panicking. A flood of negative thoughts came to me “What if I look weird or different than everyone else?” or “What if I’m not good enough?”

I had started overthinking about everything that could go wrong: like being called out for being alone, or not having anyone to sit with, or even being made fun of. Finally after a couple of minutes, I said to myself hey, everything will be okay, just calm down and keep breathing…something taught to me by my mom and friends.

When I then looked around the classroom, I noticed a new girl had sat right next to me. She was kind and sweet. Even after just talking to her for 5 minutes, we found a lot in common like favourite foods and activities. As the day went on, I reconnected with friends that I hadn’t seen all summer. I even sat next to that same girl for the next 2 classes.

Now heading into October, I’ve had a lot of tests, exams and homework. The anxiety doesn’t completely go away of course - I still get nervous and feel scared. But it’s okay because I was able to get through that first day without any big worries or issues.

And whenever I’m feeling upset about anything that goes on at school, like a bad grade or a fight with a friend, I make sure not to overthink things. I know that I can survive the rest of the school year because I got through the first month that was hard, and it can only get better from there.


Need more support with school anxiety?

Learn the technique of calm breathing here, or on our MindShift app.

Read our 12 tips on coping with back-to-school anxiety.

Have kids struggling with school refusal? Learn more here.

Learn about social anxiety and teens at our Anxiety Canada Youth site.

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