ever since i was 7 years old, i've been struggling with comorbid anxiety disorders. as a kid, i could barely go to school most days, and worried over the tiniest little things. my parents and school tried many strategies to make life easier for me, but barely anything worked. i would panic over the smallest of things. eventually, when i was around 9, the school staff decided that maybe it would be better if i had someone more mature to look after me - a school buddy, they called it. they got a teenager from the senior school to look after me during recess and lunch, because i was too scared to go out with the other kids. i'll call him J. whenever he looked after me, we stayed inside, usually hanging out in the library or the reception area. he brought me toys and books and all kinds of different things, and he made me feel safe with him. i trusted him, and i thought he would protect me. one day, J and i were playing with some new things he'd brought me in a secluded room. i don't remember all of this - lots of it is a blur. most of what i remember is just panic, panic, panic. what i do remember is that at first J and i were just playing some sort of game, and then all of a sudden we stopped. he told me he had to ask me a secret question, and i couldn't tell anyone about it. i know that J asked me to take my clothes off and show him my boobs - which, being 9 years old, i didnt have yet. i remember feeling something in my gut that told me everything about this was wrong; i had a need to get out, escape. but i felt trapped. i lied to him and told him i didnt know what those were. he told me to think of the things on my mum's chest. that's where things start getting blurry. i started crying, and J started to touch me, but i don't remember the specifics - just the pure terror i felt. i think my brain blocked out most of the worst of it. i knew that what was happening wasn't right, but i didn't know how to get away. eventually, i ran out of the door, and escaped to the girls' bathrooms. one of my classmates back then was much nicer to me than the others. i'll call her M. M saw me panicking, and asked me what was wrong, but i couldn't get anything out. i just told her to not let anyone in, and hid in the stalls. i still recall J and M arguing outside the bathroom door, and J's yelling and begging for me to come out. i stayed in there for the whole day, with M guarding the door for me. the thing im most thankful for is M being there that day - i don't know what would've happened if she hadn't been in the bathroom with me when J came after me. but at the end of the day, M had to leave, and my teachers came to the bathroom stall. i got punished for being rude to J, and the principal repeatedly tried to make me apologise to him and talk it out for the rest of the school year. i couldn't do it - every time i saw him i had a panic attack and felt the overwhelming need to run away. J tried many times to get me alone after that day, but i always stuck myself to M's side and ran as far as i could. i just wish i'd never met him in the first place. i haven't seen him in years, but i know that if i saw him again, i'd still burst into tears and panic, just like when i was 9.
thanks for listening,