The first major warning sign was an anxiety attack in the doctor’s office. Sarah had been swinging between bouts of tears and laughter, and she admitted she hadn’t been taking food to school because she was too anxious to be seen eating.
When anyone looked at Sarah, however innocently, as she walked into school, she became really anxious. She would leave her jumper on in class, even if she was hot, because she didn’t want to be seen taking it off. She wouldn’t blow her nose or cough, no matter how badly she needed to… and it didn’t end there. Her anxiety had infiltrated many aspects of her daily life.
After hearing these shocking new revelations, Sophie did some research, and realised her daughter had severe social anxiety.
Anything that attracted attention to Sarah triggered her anxiety. She had always excelled academically, and pushed herself to achieve perfect grades – mostly to avoid the attention and embarrassment that came with mistakes or poor results. She became obsessive about homework, yet increasingly procrastinated as her condition worsened, exploding with emotion when deadlines loomed.
When oral presentations were due, it was worse. There were epic meltdowns, beginning with anger and ending with depressive words and thoughts. She pleaded to be home-schooled, rather than go to school. Even with weekly counselling, Sophie knew it would take a long time to see much progress.
All Sarah wanted to do was stay home and escape into computer games for long periods of time. She neglected personal care, and responsibilities at home. Food became an addictive comfort tool, especially high-sugar and processed foods, which she bought for herself. This made her hormonal imbalance worse, and triggered further anxieties caused by acne, ovulation pain, and period pain.