That’s Life 

I do not believe that everything happens for a reason. Otherwise, I must be a bad person, being punished for some choices I made in the past. 

I moved to Whitman, Massachusetts when I was four weeks old. I had a first communion and went to church pretty regularly. I also attended CCD every week to learn about God and the stories about all the things that came with. But these stories all felt like fiction to me. I convinced my parents to take me out of CCD and went on living my life not giving much thought to religion.  

Fast forward to 8th grade. I was 13 years old and going through what will forever be the worst period of my life. I woke up riddled with anxiety. I went to bed feeling no relief. However, the middle of the day is when it was the worst. My mom drove me to school every day, and every day we went through some version of the same thing. She would pull up to the door, I would refuse to get out, she would have to park out of the way of others, and we would argue back and forth about getting out of the car and walking into school.  

For those of you who haven’t had a panic attack, let me explain to you how I was feeling. Imagine you are on the edge of a cliff. You can’t see the bottom, but you can tell it’s a far fall. Now imagine you are surrounded by your friends and family, everyone who loves you, and they are all telling you to jump. You want to trust them, but your instincts are telling you this is not a time to stay calm and trust. You are filled with panic, dread, and pure, unfiltered fear. You are paralyzed. I felt this way every morning. Getting out of the car felt like jumping off a cliff. Walking into the school felt like falling endlessly to my inevitable demise.  

Thinking back, I know what I put my mom through was unfair, and terrible. I know she dreaded mornings just like I did. Though we didn’t go through the same thing, what she went through was an immeasurable pain. She watched her young child walk through Hell every morning and had no power to stop it. She had no way of helping the irrational pain I was experiencing on a daily basis.  

My mother was forced to walk me into school. Though both of us had hoped it would get easier each day, or that I wouldn’t need her to help me through the simple task of walking inside a building, it never did. Day after day, I was paralyzed in the front seat of that car. Unable to do such a basic function of life. I would look at my limbs and wonder, why aren’t they moving? Once my mother got me through those doors, I would walk into the guidance area and my panic attack would last the rest of the day.  

I didn’t have much faith that it would get better. The platitudes I would hear from those around me, “it will be okay,” “things will get easier,” “you’re gonna get through this,” they never gave me hope that I would see the other side of my personal Hell. Because day in a day out, for months, my routine stuck. Get in the car, be dragged out of the car into school, wait six hours for peace, never find it, repeat. At this point I pretty much had no reason to believe anything else was out there. And my religion was nonexistent.  

Then, one glorious day, an event I had been dreading came to pass, and it brought with it the peace I had been looking for for so long. I won’t give you the gory details, but I started something that every teenage girl hopes they aren’t wearing white jeans for. The next day, I felt nothing besides calm. My routine was broken. I got up feeling reasonably annoyed that it was a school day, and I walked into school and went to class. I thought it was over.  

It was not.  

A couple days later, when I was able to wear white jeans again, I felt the all too familiar weight climb in, wiggle around, and get comfortable on my chest. I thought I could conquer the day like I had the last few school days, but getting out of the car, I saw the cliff again. But this time, my panic attack came with a boulder, meant to squash my hope. Each day, my anxiety got worse. Then anti-white-jeans day came again and brought with it a sliver of hope and mild confusion. I was okay again. This became my new routine. But this one hurt more than the last time because each day I would wake up hoping it would be a day worth telling my parents about only for it to be a day filled with disappointment.  

Before you ask, I tried everything. I was tested for everything. I went to therapy, and it didn’t help. I went on medication that put me in a dark place. A place where I was numb to joy, and my negative emotions seemed endless. Luckily, I still had the ability to feel guilt. If it weren’t for guilt, I would have traumatized my family, and my life would have ended in 2018 on my kitchen floor. At this point all I could think was I’m ready to find out what comes after this pain I feel. I’m ready to see if life on Earth is all there is. I tried three different medications. One of which helped mildly. The dose has now been increased five times. But that is not the reason I am okay. I was also diagnosed with PMDD and treated with medication that would eliminate my need for any color pants other than white.  

After that, my life returned to normal. My general happy-go-lucky attitude returned, and I went to my classes again. I finished 8th grade with all A’s and B’s and a pride I had never felt before. I felt strong.  

Throughout these months I never gave much thought to religion or really anything beyond what was happening in each moment I went through as I was experiencing it. I always thought there was something out there. Some place you go when you die where the good is separate from the bad. Where good people are rewarded with the life they always dreamed of, and the bad people are punished with whatever they think they deserve deep down.  

I think about this event often. I wonder what I did in my life that made the universe treat me this way. I don’t know why bad things happen to good people or why good things happen to bad people. And as I said before, I certainly don’t believe everything happens for a reason. I just think that’s life and these are the cards you dealt and that the deal is random. There isn’t some god out there determining who gets what and if your life will be easy or not. There is just life and the things that come with it, both fortunate and unfortunate. And then there is death. Where, I hope, good people get peace.  

These are the things I have to believe.