Since I had my first panic attack my life was literally never the same. I woke up every morning with my heart racing. Yet I still had to go to school.

I attended F.H. LaGuardia High School of Music and Art & Performing Arts. I was a drama major there. Ironically, I was acting every single day I went to school. My role was pretending to be “normal.” I had to pretend that my heart was beating at a regular pace. I needed to make my classmates and teachers believe that I was just another teenager with ordinary teenage problems, even though this couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Inside I knew that I was different.

I couldn’t understand it. I was terrified of my smallness in the world. The universe was massive and I tiny in comparison. I couldn’t process this concept.

Another thing that I continually harped upon was my fear of becoming an adult. I was used to being under the care of my parents. Once I began having panic attacks I was terrified of going out “into the world” and not having my parents to protect me.

What if I had a panic attack and no one was there to help me? I couldn’t conceive of this.

One day, in my history class, I caught a boy staring at me. I felt strange. Clearly he liked me, but I didn’t understand why. I was a freak. He didn’t know who I “really was” inside. If he found out, surely he would change his mind.

Every day I would go to class and he would continue to stare. I fully believed that no one would even like me because I was different.

Thankfully, I was wrong.

To be continued.