I live on a farm in Australia but I now go to boarding school. I have been boarding for three years now and I was rarely homesick in my first two years. However, I have recently been getting homesick more and more often. I also get panic attacks, something I have never had before. Do you have any advice?
Hi! Thanks for writing in 😀 Panic attacks are so awful, I’m really sorry you are going through this. I can definitely relate to homesickness, it really sucks…
I don’t know enough about your situation to really comment on a personal level, but I can at least share some things that have helped me, and some strategies you can try to see where this is coming from and why it is happening.
First off, it looks like you are in 10th grade (I may be wrong!). The older you get the more you think about your place in the world and wonder where you fit in. Early adolescence usually is marked by a desire to strike out on your own and be independent; and maybe that is why your first two years were ok. But the older you get the more you begin to realize you want to find your place in the big picture, and it can be really really painful, especially when you are miles away from where you were formed. Again, I am really sorry you are going through this.
Maybe it would be worth keeping track of when you are the most homesick. Is it evening time? Or first thing in the morning? Does talking to your family help or make it worse? Keep a journal of when it is the worst and maybe you will see some patterns. Once you know what is triggering it maybe you can implement some changes.
Another thing that is worth looking into is the why it is happening. Are you afraid of something happening to them? Or to you? Are you having friend issues? Are you lacking support? In tackling this angle it might be worth it to enlist the help of a trusted adult, or even a therapist. I never boarded so I don’t know how this works but is there someone in the house who is in charge of your year group’s wellbeing? Because I bet you aren’t the first person to experience homesickness whilst boarding.
Which brings me to my next point – it is ok to be sad and miss your family. That is normal, and totally ok. I had separation anxiety right up until around the end of 9th grade, and then it only stopped because I had made some friends finally. (And discovered the oboe. I was super cool.) You are not the only person in the boarding house to experience this, and you are definitely not the only person in your grade to experience this, boarding house or not. So don’t feel alone in this struggle. As far as panic attacks are concerned, less people have them, but they do occur. I have had them, and I know just how scary they can be. Apply the methods I previously talked about to them; learn to recognize your triggers, and learn to feel them coming on. Then you can start to sit with them, and figure out where in your mind they are coming from. If you are anything like me, your body starts giving you signs – it is up to you to tune into them.
Finally, take care of your physical body as much as you can. Make sure you are eating well and enough, and hitting all your nutritional bases. Then (if you haven’t already) start a regular workout regime. The endorphins from a good run help with anxiety and give you at least a few moments respite. I find during running information gets settled, and answers appear seemingly out of nowhere. Do something creative that is all for you. Try learning a new instrument, write, paint – whatever works for you. Finally; meditate. This works. Download the app headspace and do the free trial. It really helps put the world in perspective, and pulls you back into yourself.
At the end of the day, anxiety and panic attacks are your body trying to signal something to you. If you allow yourself to tune into what is being said, and sit with the fear and bad feelings, you can start to tackle it. It may take a while, but with determination you can get there and untangle the rush of thoughts in your subconscious. I know you can get there 😀
It helps for me to keep in mind that anxiety is always about things in the future. You cannot control the future. So why let it control you?
I hope this helps!