Panic at the Highschool

Emily Rodrigues, Op/Ed Editory

There are plenty who will say that anxiety is just a pretend scapegoat for our generations problems, but I’m here to tell you that for some of us it’s a monster all too ferocious to call imaginary. Most of the time people will pass by someone with anxiety and just look the other way like it is not something they need to be aware about. Wrong. This is an issue that everyone should be informed about.

Beginning the very moment I open my eyes, I join countless others who walk these halls in the hardest fight to blend into the crowd.  People just don’t realize how hard it actually is for us with the disorder to actually appear as what society calls “normal.” That means steady hands, eye contact, being social and countless other small mannerisms. To you it may sound like things you learned as a five year old, but to me it is a constant and daily struggle. There are those who have said that I should just work harder to appear like everyone else. That makes it obvious to me that many people have not been informed well enough about this condition like they should be.

Bingham’s school phycologist, Clinton Thurgood said, “The biggest sign of a student struggling with anxiety is their breathing. It’s always extremely fast, and I think that’s because they get stuck in that fight or flight mode. They think that they have so much to worry about that it becomes overwhelming.” I can tell you from experience how true that is. When you’re caught in the storm, it almost feels as if there is a brick for each worry being laid upon your chest. On my worst days it takes all the strength I have to not sink to the floor from the weight, and just lay there until sleep comes to give me some sort of dreamless bliss. However there are other times when I am so wound up that I run as fast as I can so no one will see me snap in anger like a rubber band stretched too far. I just know that either way seems to leave a permanent scar. Whether it’s on my reputation or the memories I have to carry with me. It is something I wish people could know more about. Just feeling like you need help to get through an otherwise ordinary day.

If you have ever had a panic attack you might know about the awful shivering, muscle pains, nausea, difficulty breathing, and flight or fight response associated with them. However, to a person who has always been the epitome of calmness, anxiety just seems like a sickness entirely made up inside the mind. People seem to think that it is just something you can just switch off with an easy flick of the wrist. They just don’t understand and it’s hurtful at times. I can speak for thousands like me when I say that I wish it were that simple. You are correct when you say that anxiety is a mental disorder, but most forget that even though it stems from the brain it affects every other part of our bodies just as much. They shouldn’t be allowed to forget that if we can’t, but I haven’t seen anyone else stepping up and saying how much of an issue this is.

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America said, “Anxiety disorders affect one in eight children. Research shows that untreated children with anxiety disorders are at higher risk to perform poorly in school, miss out on important social experiences, and engage in substance abuse. Anxiety disorders also often co-occur with other disorders such as depression, eating disorders, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).” The truth is that you never know who exactly you are talking to when you speak about anxiety. So when I hear people say that it is fake, or all in my head, I generally tend to get pretty angry. If only I could place someone in my shoes for a day so that they could feel exactly what I go through on a day to day basis.  Anxiety is not something to pretend to have, and more often than not, you can tell who is real about it just by having a simple conversation about it with them. Sometimes there are subtle hints that can reveal an entire hidden reality in which someone exists in.

I know that everyone has things that they get pretty anxious about, but fortunately for many it’s the kind that goes away in about an hour. They don’t have to keep it. At home my anxiety is often referred to as “Emily’s Monster.” You may be imagining something cute and chubby with little teeth, but I see it more as something that would come out of American Horror Story. Thurgood said, “I’d think of it as a trickster because it is constantly telling you to worry about things that you really don’t need to. It tricks your mind into believing that you have such a heavy load of problems to think about constantly.” It is one of the hardest parts about anxiety. Having what seems to be an invisible problem that many aren’t aware of like they should be.

So contrary to what a lot of people today believe; it’s not about attention.  This is about being scared without having a clue as to why. It is the feeling of absolute loss of control in the middle of something important. Anxiety is a war inside your head that only you can bear witness to, and others can only begin to understand. I can assume that you might be wondering why this all matters. What does it have to do with you? Well take a look around. You are surrounded everyday by many teens like me who could be silently struggling through these types of problems all alone. You are a big part of their lives, and you should be able to help and understand when they need you to. We can’t do it alone anymore. So just remember; all it takes is a smile and some support to turn the day into a victory for someone who thought it might have been a loss.