Anxiety is no laughing matter

Kassandra Perez, Editor in Chief

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Okay, let’s flashback to elementary school. There were the social group of kids who were always ready to answer a question with so much confidence and weren’t afraid to be themselves. Then there were the annoying troublemaker kids who wouldn’t care what others thought of them, they were loud, rude and thought they were funny. Then there was the kid- not a group, but just one kid who would say absolutely nothing. You know, the ones who would do really good in everything, receive good grades, behave and try their hardest in everything they would do, but they just wouldn’t say anything! It was as if they didn’t have the mental capacity to speak- mute even! The kid everyone felt bad for because they didn’t have a lot of friends because they were too shy to make any. The kid who, if they ever did speak, you couldn’t hear a word from because they were so quiet. The kid that would always work alone and hated working with groups. The kid who would rather just sit in a corner rather than socialize. That kid. I was that kid.

A lot of people think that when someone is not very communicative, that they must hate everyone. That is not true. At least, I did not hate absolutely anyone, I just could not bring myself to speak to others. I could not bring myself to raise my hand no matter how badly I wanted to answer the question, no matter how badly I wanted to express an opinion, no matter how badly I wanted to talk about the fun things I did that weekend during sharing time in class- I could not do it. I would not do it. I would get ready to raise my hand and think to myself, okay, you can do this, just lift your arm from your side and raise it high, raise it proud. Then I would freeze and think. I felt like I would sit there for the longest time when in reality it would only be four to five seconds. And just like that I would quickly lower my arm and tuck it back next to my side.

That’s all it took, four to five seconds. Four to five seconds to convince myself that answering would be a mistake. All it would take was for me to think to myself – you don’t know if that’s right, if it’s wrong you just made yourself look like idiot. They’ll laugh at you, tease you. What are you thinking? Put your arm down, you don’t know what you’re doing. The same issue occurred when I had to do any type of presentation in class. I’m not going to be as good as that last presenter, everything I worked on is wrong , what was I thinking, everyone is going to laugh at me – I am going to be the laughing stalk of the year. God, get me out of here. If the teacher called on me, I had the same issue. Why did she call on me? I don’t know the answer, this is horrible, I’m going to look like the dumbest kid in class if I don’t get this right.

 The worst part about this whole dilemma is that it’s not just having to deal with these type of thoughts, but also the feelings that come along with it. Heart racing, feeling like your breathing went from a good ten to a solid three. The emptiness at the pit of your stomach because you know that if you make just one mistake you will never let that go. The feeling that so much weight was added onto your back and you can not hold yourself up any longer.

The textbook definition of anxiety is a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome. My personal definition of is the feeling of being trapped in an endless wormhole of fear, stress, and isolation. Anxiety, a seven letter word, three vowels, four consonants- how can a simple seven letter word have so much meaning and cause so much damage to a person? You want to break out of this prison. You want to be like others, confident and unafraid. But something just pulls you back.

It was a lot worse for me as a kid. I was bullied and teased a lot when I was younger. I feel like that was the main reason I struggled with anxiety so much as a kid and even today.

And it definitely doesn’t help a person’s anxiety to constantly deal with negative people or events happening, the pressure of succeeding in school, money and payments, work, friends and family. Everything that I stress about, worry about and fear the most all combining into one bullet ready to aim and hit me at time I need it the least. Sometimes I wish I could just make time stop so that I could have a chance to sit down, take a moment to myself and know that everything will be okay, even if it is just for that moment.

But as we all know, stopping time is very unrealistic and will never happen. So then how can I make things easier for myself?

The one thing that I hear from everyone who offers me advice regardless of the topic is just talk to someone about it. But what happens when the person you most wanted to tell your personal problems to, the person- wait, not person, people – what happens when the people you most want to tell your life struggles to refuse to believe that anything you say is true?

My anxiety and stress levels were going through the roof. I wouldn’t eat because I would lose my appetite, I couldn’t sleep because I had work and school going on. I couldn’t think straight; all I wanted to do when I was at work or school completing my daily tasks was to run out the door, find an isolated area, sit down, and cry. I couldn’t deal with anything. It got to the point where I would have so much anxiety that I would start shaking because I had too much going on in my life.

I tried telling certain people that I thought I could trust about what was going on, and that was a big step for me. I am not the type of person to go up to you and express any type of emotional break down that I am going through. But I was at that breaking point in my life, and I couldn’t hold it in any longer. I walked up to the two most important people and told them what was happening. They told me that there is no such thing as anxiety, that I was over-reacting, and that I don’t have anxiety, I was just crazy.

As they were telling me this, all I could do was stand there frozen. I didn’t speak, I didn’t move. Because as they were yelling at me that I was insane for even bringing up the idea of me having anxiety, my whole world was falling apart. The people I most wanted to tell, the two people I wanted to be there for me, to lie to me and tell me that everything was going to be okay completely broke my heart in so many ways I thought were never possible and sent it to a place I never want to go back to in my life.

Never in a million years should a person have to go through that. Never. When a person struggling with anxiety, stress, depression, or anything else comes up to you and tells you about the things that they are struggling with and the hardships that they are facing, you should never ever think or tell that person they are crazy. What you need to do is listen to that person and be there for them, not abandon them when they most need you.

Having anxiety and/or stress does not make you crazy, it makes you human! Everyone goes through some sort of obstacle in his or her life. I agree, some people get hit harder with it than others do, but that does not and will never make them crazy.

Parents, family members and even peers need to understand that when someone is dealing with something like this in their life, it is not a joke. It is something that should be taken seriously. There are so many incidents where teens have harmed themselves or have even committed suicide because no one would listen to them or understand what they were going through until it was too late.

Speaking from experience, it doesn’t even require someone who will give out a full on speech about how ‘everything is going to be okay’ and that ‘things will work out’, because sometimes overdoing it with cliché phrases makes the situation worse. All it takes is someone who will listen, someone who will be there no matter what.

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