The Fight for My Health

Anonymous, Reporter

Something is wrong. What’s wrong with me? I can’t keep my hands still. Why are my shoulders so tight? I’m about to faint. Oh god my stomach I’m about to scream from the pain. I need help. Why can’t I speak? Its okay I’m just nervous, calm down. Deep breath. What if I faint? No you won’t, calm down. Why can’t I calm down?! Oh god my stomach…

I never understood where these feelings of discomfort came from but now I understand that it is anxiety.

A Word Bubble on Anxiety.

Anxiety is a mental illness that can cause physical side effects. According to The National Health Institute, 18% of our population has an anxiety disorder. Yet less than 1/3 seek help. Considering that the average age of onset for anxiety is 11, I believe that there should be more resources at North to help teens suffering this ailment.

Anxiety presents in people many different ways. For me, my stomach twists and turns as it collapses in on its self, making me double over. Sometimes my ab muscles are sore the next day. My hands shake during tests and my shoulders tense up. It feels as if my whole reality is crashing down around me, despite nothing being wrong.

When I was younger and expressed my feelings of bodily-discomfort, my parents reassured me it was a normal response. After all, everyone has butterflies. Or maybe they just thought I wanted to get out of tests.

So for most of elementary and middle school, I tried my best to try to keep calm. My feelings of internal worry were locked inside. My parents would ask what was wrong and I would hide my feelings. I was terrified that they would deny my feelings. I convinced myself that all of this was normal and that I was fine.

However at the end of last year, I knew something was wrong when the butterflies turned into thunder. I felt fearful, despite nothing obvious perpetuating those feelings. An inability to completely relax scared me.

In the past, there was something to trigger those feelings: a test, starting a new school year, being early, being late, etc. But now, my heart would race and I wanted to run home and hide in my bed. I was so confused and could not escape these feelings of fear and physical pain.

I lacked the skills to calm myself down. Taking a cold shower aided in my relaxation but not much else helped. I simply buried my head in my pillows and sobbed. I was so lost.

Finals ended and the tension eased, but just a little. Over the summer I still wrestled these feelings. Images of friends dying flashed through my mind if they were five minutes late to pick me up.

Summer came to a close and school went on like normal. I was stressed and anxious. Not wanting those feelings to run my life, I told my mom about the issues I was having. She reassured me that she would get the help I needed. I was elated.

However, when I asked her a few weeks later if she found a therapist yet, she told me I didn’t need therapy. After all, I still had A’s in most of my classes and if my anxiety truly was bad, I’d be failing. So I settled down. Maybe I was fine.

The next test came, my shoulders tensed, I couldn’t hold my pencil and my thoughts were racing. But everything was okay. This is natural, or so I forced myself to think.

I guess my stubborn nature aided me, for once. With a determination to not be locked in a world of fear, I has a serious discussion with my parents about anxiety.

Once again, they said they’d get me help. They tried, they called someone. A month pasted and it didn’t progress.

I wanted to scream and to be able to communicate what I was feeling. But life never works how you want it to. I just cried as silently as I could in the shower.

The anxiety was too much for me to handle, so I decided to start failing classes. If bad grades are the marker for my mental health, then I should fail because I was not healthy. I stopped studying for tests. I got Ds for the first time. I screwed my GPA over in hopes of a better mental state. (For the record, I do not endorse this tactic.)

My parents got concerned, they asked what was wrong, if I needed a tutor and if they could do anything to help. I asked for a therapist to help me with my anxiety and they agreed. My mom called the therapist she had called earlier and we received a huge packet to fill out.

We have no less than 60 pages to fill out, questions ranged from insurance to when I learned how to tie my shoes. Appointments were scheduled. More forms filled out. And a diagnosis was made- Generalized Anxiety Disorder with Panic Attacks (F41.1).

Having validation that something is wrong with me is oddly satisfying. I no longer feel the need to hide as much. Getting help is a crucial part dealing with a mental illness. If you avoid taking your medicine, your health will only worsen. The same is true with your mental health, avoiding anxious thoughts only worsens anxiety.

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The Student News Site of Bloomington High School North
The Fight for My Health