So this is a bit of a different blog post but I just wanted sit and write out my recent experience with anxiety and delayed stress.
For the past two years I have been completing my A Levels in History, Sociology and Literature. And through out secondary school and even primary school I had always found the academic side of school rather 'easy'. Not in the fact I found the work easy but exam wise I never got too stressed or worried, I went with the flow and tried my best and always did alright. Which I believe is the best way to go!
Through out secondary school I wasn't in the top sets for everything nor the bottom. Happy medium. I came out my GSCE's with C's and B's and managed to bag myself an acceptance into the sixth form I wanted. With no over the top revision, I knew I didn't need to stress myself out and make myself ill. But maybe like 30 minutes each day.
Even throughout AS Level (the first year of A Levels) I didn't feel 'too' stressed. But man of course it was SO much harder than GCSE. When people say they are nothing compared to A Levels I'm sorry but they really aren't. Anyway, I did my exams in the summer and was extremely happy that I got good enough grades to carry on into A2 without dropping any subjects or vice versa.
In my A2 year January exams had been scrapped. Which was a massive strain on me all through out the year as I was having to try to memorise 10x as much knowledge. I started revising in March, which is really early in my opinion. Truthfully, I only started this early as most of my friends had. I didn't want to feel behind etc. But I dread to think what I would have done if not. This exam season what has just passed has literally left me in scraps. I did 3 exams, my History, Literature and one Sociology, and this left the big guns. Unit 4 Sociology which used to be 2 exams, now 1 and which 14 topics to learn. Impossible.
All through the year I knew this exam would nearly break me and man it did. The night BEFORE the exam I had the worst panic attack I have EVER had in my entire life. I have previously suffered with them during GCSES slightly and every so often since. But nothing which stopped me from going out my daily life. This was something else. I felt like I was going to throw up, and then my body literally just went into total shock and spasm. I couldn't stop convulsing and it wasn't just 'shaking' it was like my muscles were trying to get out of my skin! I didn't end up going to sleep till at least 3 the night before my biggest exam and trying to memorise the course was seriously the last thing on my mind. Not what you want the night before an A2 exam! I was so worried I would have another attack before I went into the exam. Luckily I didn't. Nor did I feel totally back to normal. I managed to sit the exam.
After that was done I had no more exams left and I thought I would be left with a sense of overwhelming happiness. But I felt uneasy and on edge. I went for a small meal with my friend to celebrate and couldn't finish it as a wave of sickness came over me. I went home and wondered why I didn't feel over the moon to not have to revise!
That night, my body started convulsing again. Crying to my mum I wondered why it was still happening as I didn't have anything to worry about anymore. The next day I had over 10 panic attacks or you could say one massive one all day. I couldn't get my breath at any second and felt like I could only sit down or I would collapse. Knowing this wasn't getting any better I rang the doctors and arranged an appointment.
In the appointment I broke down in tears which was super embarrassing and also strange. I explained what had happened and she claimed that it was delayed anxiety. Symptoms include being emotional which I did, when ever any one spoke to me about it my eyes would water and my throat would go weak. It was horrible. The doctor didn't give me any medication but some breathing and relaxation techniques. That day I felt so much calmer and managed to go to the country side and have some time outside which was lovely.
The next day I woke up with the constricted feeling in my chest and throat once again. I cannot explain the sadness I felt waking up knowing all day I would not be able to breathe. Trying to lay in bed and watch a dvd was an extremely hard task when I simply couldn't get my breath. At night I had to sleep propped up by 4 pillows because I couldn't lay flat because of my breathing. I also kept twitching every couple of minutes which was super annoying. I carried on like this for 2 days. I didn't get dressed, didn't wash my face, shower or eat for over a week. (Gross I know) All I managed to eat was 2 biscuits and half a can of soup. I couldn't stomach anything, I felt like I physically could not swallow hard food as my throat wouldn't allow it. My appetite had gone and I LOVE food I will admit. I took no interest in daily life such as going out with friends, watching my favourite tv shows or seeing family etc. I just wanted to try to sleep constantly. I was having 9+ each night but always tired and not doing anything.
After 3 days in what as basically a prision I decided I NEEDED to get some help again. I rang the doctors and explained that I felt like my heart was pumping out of my chest and I couldn't breathe and got an emergency appointment. Waiting outside my anxiety was over whelming with worry as this might be something more serious. I wanted to go into that room and spill out EVERYTHING I had thought of the past week. When I did go inside I couldn't even string a sentence together, I kept stuttering, my eyes watering again, my heart racing. She could tell that I was crippled with anxiety and decided that I needed to go on Beta Blockers. What these do is decrease the activity of the heart by blocking the action of hormones (adrenaline).
I had so much adrenaline rushing through me and my heart was pumping so fast as a delayed stress reaction, FROM EXAMS! All the way through my body had been trying to get me through without falling apart and when they was over my body basically gave up. I wanted these tablets and I wanted them fast! I went to the chemist straight after and rushed home alone to have one. After an hour, I felt slightly calmer than I ever had before. And every day since its been getting better.
I cannot begin to explain how much Beta Blockers were a help for me during this horrible period. Now I can enjoy summer instead of being crippled with fear inside by my own body. I can't believe exams literally drove me to that point also, I just want to say to every one that even if you don't stress during exams or before. PLEASE look after yourself. Don't over do it like I did. Try to find a happy medium. Whether they are SATS, GCSES or final exams for uni. I don't think anyone understands how much stress students go through these days and my story is a prime example of this.