First of all, let me just make one thing certain: I am not writing this to garner sympathy, and neither am I doing it for attention. This is simply the way I deal with problems; writing about them. This is, however, going to be a rambling piece, so those who don't want to read a nineteen year-old's complaints and grievances, then hit the back button right now, or close the tab, depending on your browser.
My Nervous Breakdown
I've never been much of a social guy. Never. I'm extremely shy, and therefore it is very difficult for me to make contact with new people, especially those I've never seen before. It's not so bad when it's people I've been around before but never really gotten to know. I never thought of it as a problem since people kept telling me it was something I would outgrow. I didn't doubt that, and I waited.
But I did not, in fact, outgrow it. It grew worse. By the time I entered junior high, I was barely able to talk to the people I had shared several years of school with in opposite classes (classes from elementary school were mixed at the start of junior high, resulting in many new faces). Believe it or not, but class rivalry here in Norway can develop to such a degree that the classes (A and B; I was B) will not have anything to do with each other. Now, the result of these mixed classes was not what the adults expected. Instead of merging peacefully, the classes split into opposing sides. Of course, it all evened out eventually, but I did keep to the friends I had known since I was six.
Then high school dawned on the horizon. The class was scattered to the four corners of the earth, it felt like, and very few of those I knew went to the same school as me, and not in the same line of education. I did not do well the first year. People were scary, the school was scary and the general notion of soon being considered an adult was frightening beyond all measure. After the first semester, in January, I became depressed. Now, this is not a rare occurrence in teenagers, everyone gets winter depression at least once in their lives, I'm told. Except that I felt that it was not the only thing wrong with me since I still could not talk to people in my class.
The psychology service at the school was not adequate. I was asked how sad I was and how often and how bad on a scale from 1 to 10 it was in the mornings. Then I was sent on my way without any follow-up. That's state-sponsored psychology for you. In any case, I was able to overcome it when two old friends of mine transferred to the school because they hated the commuting to their new school. I survived high school basically because of them and the new opportunities for friendships they opened up for me.
Then it was time for the university. At this point, I had had a suspicion that it was something far more serious wrong with me. I was starting to have panic attacks whenever I was alone among large throngs of people. I stopped going to concerts because I couldn't handle being so close to so many people at the same time. I even stopped dating the guy I had met because I was afraid of embarrassing myself or doing something that would irrevocably damage both him and myself. I started looking for escape routes whenever I met someone. And I hadn't even started the damn school yet!
Then, on the first day, during the first lecture, I was seized by an uncontrollable urge to dive out of the nearest door, run to the restrooms, lock myself in a cubicle and cry. I've never had a problem with crying, but this was unstoppable. I simply sat there for an hour and a half, continually crying. When I eventually dried out, I was barely able to hop on the underground and go home.
Naturally, I wasn't able to keep this from my parents, who immediately called the doctor, who forwarded me to a real psychologist, who diagnosed my problem the first day: Social Anxiety.
I've seen that many people claim that it's not a real disorder or anxiety, that it's just shyness that can be ignored and pushed through. Let me tell you right now, it's not. If it was, I wouldn't have been writing this right now. If it was, I wouldn't be taking anti-depressives right now, which is very carefully issued in Norway. If it was, I'd be able to go to my university right now and study for my degree. Instead, I'm stuck here, afraid to go out. The initial shyness has developed into a monster of an anxiety which I have absolutely no control over.
I don't know what to do. I've tried going to lectures, but it doesn't help. I can't even go to the supermarket without feeling tightness in my chest and an urge to run away.
So what can I do? Nothing, apart from taking the pills and going to a therapist. I have no idea when I'm going to be able to go back to school, much less when I'll finally be able to interact with people normally again. All there is to do is to wait, and see…