What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. Today’s post is by Alana. I’m sure you’ve said it before. My room is so messy, my kids are so crazy, I’m so nervous about this test. . . I’m having a panic attack. But you haven’t ever had one. I have multiple times. It started when I was 16 (which is when they usually do surprisingly). I’ve always been a geek (Scholars Bowl Captain) and have loved school. But one day I started thinking about dropping my brother off and leaving him, and then just picking him up. I knew that wouldn’t work – they call the house if you miss school. Then I would start making myself sick in my first class, and my parents would come pick me up. And then one Tuesday, it got real bad. I physically could not get myself in the car to go to school. Wouldn’t do it. I remember literally breaking down in the laundry room, collapsing to the floor from the sheer pain in my chest. My head was spinning, my heart beating faster than I’ve ever felt it. My hands were sweaty, and I couldn’t stand. My parents both did things characteristic of them, my mom trying to hug it out and my dad yelling. Neither necessarily bad, just different. But I still couldn’t do it. Everyday was a struggle to get up, and the thought of school had me spiraling. My wonderful parents took me to the doctor, where I had another panic attack and hit my doctor when she tried to touch me. It was then that I had my first therapy appointment. I sat in the room, just sat. I don’t think I really said one thing; I just rocked myself back and forth while my dad sat stoically and my mother tried to explain what the day was like. A few days later I went back, and learned that I had social anxiety disorder with panic attacks. The social anxiety disorder is just a fear of what people are thinking about me, and if they like me (in my case). The panic attacks were my manifestation of that fear, and it lead to my flight of the situation that caused me problems, even things as simple as class. I missed school for 2 weeks, and then had to slowly integrate myself back into class. This itself was stressful, because I had to explain why I missed school, and worry what people thought. It’s a vicious cycle. I was placed on medicine, and have been on it for 4 years now. That in itself is frustrating and freeing at the same time. People like to tell me that God can heal me, and that this is just Satan grabbing hold of me. And that made medicine bad. People, after abotu 2 years would ask if I was finally off my medicine. Like medicine was bad. This medicine saved me. I was having passive suicidal thoughts at my rock, and didn’t really want to talk to God. This medicine brought me back to the world, and God allowed that. (But another rant). So, I guess what I want you to know is that I’m normal. People with mental disorders are normal. We have issues, but you do too. I’m currently a college student, with friends, church, life. I also have panic attacks on occasion. It’s my life.