The past few weeks have been really hazy. I’m in the midst of doing my GCSE mock exams, in school. Last week was tough for me (there are three days in my schedule where I don’t have anyone I know to eat lunch with, cause my school has different lunches—so my friends won’t have the same lunchtime as me on certain days). I felt quite ill that week, so my mum let me have one day off and that turned into two days, until I missed Tuesday through Friday of that week. It was so fun, watching Gilmore Girls in my room, but a part of me felt so guilty for missing school when I had such important exams to prepare for.

Sure enough, I had to go to a meeting with my mum and two teachers, to talk about my attendance. One of the teachers has known me since last year and understands that I have anxiety (she’s actually really nice and genuinely cares about me—the first teacher to actually care about me and not just about me getting good grades, so the school will look good). But the second teacher in the meeting, although she is also really nice, doesn’t know me that well. It got to the point where I fought the urge to cry: she asked me, “When do you feel anxious?”

All my frustration built up. I was screaming “Am I invisible to everyone!” in my head. How could no one notice that I’m struggling? Although my mum is starting to converse with me more about how I feel and she’s being really understanding, I feel like everyone else ignores me. My peers ignore me, teachers talk to me really seriously after joking around with the loud kids who stare at me.

I replied to the teacher, “I feel anxious all of the time. I feel anxious right now”. It made me want to cry, but I wasn’t angry at her. I saw her face: she felt bad. I wasn’t invisible, people saw me. They just ignored me. It’s different- they had the conversation with themselves that they saw me, they just didn’t want to interact with me. This teacher has noticed that I’m struggling, she just chose to ignore it.

I’ve been interrogated by many teachers, regarding my anxiety. There was a situation where two women in the exams office, in my school, were really intimidating whilst I was trying to talk to them about being in able to do my exams in a classroom. They asked for my name when I walked in, and when I said “Fatma” I felt like they were instantly judging me. They then made me feel like I was making me anxiety up, telling me that everyone gets nervous and that it’s normal. When I told them that it was different, one of the women asked me to explain how it feels. I got so nervous: how do I even put it into words. So I started stuttering, whilst they were both staring at me. They told me that, in order to do my tests in another room, I had to get a signed doctor’s note. I cried a lot when I got home, after holding in my tears for the whole school day. I was mainly sad about how they are members of staff that are in charge of my safety and they made me feel so uncomfortable. I later got a doctor’s note, after an appointment where I was able to explain how I felt and how my panic attacks feel. The note says that I have an anxiety disorder and that I have agoraphobia. Giving that letter to those women, on that following Monday, felt so good.

I’ve been doubting myself a lot recently, scared about my exams. Scared about growing up. Scared of everything. But there’s always good in the world. Somewhere. ♦