I had a meltdown a couple of weeks ago. The day had started out ok I thought. Well, except for the fact that I was getting over a bad migraine from the night before and wasn't feeling so good. I've had someone describe it as a "migraine hangover". I've never gotten drunk before, so not sure how it compares to that kind of hangover, but I know what I experience isn't pleasant.
Anyway, back to my story. I was at college, which I am really enjoying, and was attending a workshop on test anxiety. I usually do ok when taking a test, but I do struggle with anxiety and thought it would be good to attend. It was a very small group with only 4 students attending, all females. The instructor was an older woman and seemed friendly. After the initial introduction to what we'd be learning, she handed out papers for us to fill out. The top half of the page we were to write down something negative that we would tend to tell ourselves whenever we'd make a mistake in everyday life. Then we were to write down three positive things we should say instead. I struggled some, but eventually came up with something. She then had us each read aloud what we'd written. Then we went on the rest of the page where we were to do the same exercise, only this time it was to be about when making a mistake in an academic setting: in class or taking a test, etc. I sat there and couldn't come up with anything and started to panic. My mind went blank and no matter how hard I tried, I could not come up with anything. My heart was starting to race and I could fell the anxiety rising quickly. The instructor kept trying to work with me to get me to write down something. Before I knew it, I was starting to cry. I was so frustrated. It was such a simple thing and I felt stupid and pathetic for having such a difficult time. I finally wrote something down and managed to calm down and made it through the rest of the workshop. I even did well on the short math test that she had us take to put into practice some of the things we had learned. I left feeling rather discouraged, afraid that I would have more of these kind of episodes in my regular class.
I headed to the restroom, planning to go back to my favorite spot to spend some time studying. While in the stall, I started thinking again of what had just happened and then I really fell apart. I was crying so hard and was so upset that I figured I'd better go see the counselor, but wasn't sure if I could make it over to her office. Just the week or so before I had started meeting with a counselor there at the college, dealing with a couple of issues and establishing a relationship so that if I found myself in a situation where I needed help I could see someone that I knew. Somehow I pulled myself together enough to be able to leave the restroom and made my way over to the counseling center. But when I stood at the receptionist's desk and started to say that I needed to see the counselor, I lost it again and couldn't speak from crying so hard. The receptionist was an angel and figured out what I needed and then offered to let me wait in a private room with the door closed until the counselor could see me. I didn't have to sit in there long before my counselor came and took me to her office. After what felt like a long time, my sobbing slowed down enough that I was able to talk and tell her what had happened. After talking with her for a while I was calmed down enough to leave and go on about my day, though I was totally drained and felt fragile.
I saw my regular counselor a few days later and told her what all had happened. She said that the instructor had not handled the situation well and the fact that I was just coming off of the migraine didn't help. But what was encouraging the most was that she said that I had handled it in a much healthier way than I would have even a few months ago. She said that it was good that I was able to let those emotions out instead of just trying to cram them back in and not deal with them. Also, the fact that I was able to take immediate steps to get the help I needed was a sign of growth. She felt confident that I probably wouldn't have issues like that during my classes or even during a test, but rather it was a one-time situation with multiple factors causing it, with the migraine being a major one. I did find out later that I wasn't the only one that started crying during the workshop. It happened to someone else the next day. Seems they need to change how they present this particular workshop. It was a relief to know that I wasn't the only one!
The whole thing really shook me up, so it was reassuring to hear the opinion of my counselor that I seem to be in a much healthier place that I had been. At the time, it felt like I was having a major setback. I know that there may be another time when I will fall apart, but I don't need to be afraid of it. I know that I have people to help me and that I will get through it.