The M Word

If you asked me

If asked you pick out the heavily anxious child out of a line up, would you be able to? Would you pick

the one slacking off, the one constantly fiddling or perhaps the one no teacher could say anything bad

about? Could you be confident enough in your choice? Maybe there is some conscious vibe we give


I certainly wouldn’t have thought my teachers would have selected me if they’d been asked that

question. Maybe I became used to hiding it under a false smile, God forbid anyone knew what was

constantly racing through my mind. I will always remember when we had to give presentations, even

just the thought of standing in front of my classmates was enough to cause a lump to sit in my throat

and straddle my windpipe. But, of course, “everyone gets nervous talking in front of crowds” and, like

that, it was dismissed. It was almost like I didn’t look anxious enough to fit their box of what anxiety

was or how it presented? What form of anxiety ever fits in a box?! But another kid wobbles their

bottom lip and suddenly they are excused only for them to sit at the back of the room smug and

boasting about how they didn’t have to do the presentation.

Should I be pleased or even proud that I could hide this anxiety that would eat away at me? That I

could appear normal? Had this morning’s breakdown not happened? I was Yasmin. The student who

was always smiling, always polite and always got on with things. It’s like I’d been placed on this

pedestal where I could NOT fail, and, even if I teetered near the edge, the look of disappointment

would turn me into a statue almost immediately. There is nothing worse than trying to keep the

plates spinning when all you want to do is run away and hide.

The thing is they didn’t know the struggle it took to get to school that morning. The words of

encouragement from my Mum in the car as the knots started building, creating an almost agonizing

atmosphere, or when I would stand on the train platform having a battle with myself just to get

myself moving to just show up.

School Anxiety is on a whole ‘nother level. It’s like drowning in a sea of people, but you’re not even

part of the crowd. There’s them, and then there’s you. Like lay lines constantly running parallel to

each other, but never touching.