Going Deeper Into Mental Health With Evelyn: Living with Anxiety

Evelyn Relyea, EMC Sr. High Writer

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I just started a new job and it really came out of nowhere. I had just gotten off the bus when my neighbor walked over. You see, she’s got a little boy that just started kindergarten. He rides my bus and the little boy has come to like me, so she asked me to babysit. Apparently, her boy had been talking about me and she had already discussed it with her husband. So, I tell her that I’d love too and I got her number. My neighbor then proceeds to invite me over on Sunday along with my family.

You might be wondering why I just explained all of that and there’s a reason, I swear. The reason I told that story is because, although I acted calmly, my anxiety spiked. Which is really what this is all about; anxiety. Anxiety is felt by everybody at various times in life and at different levels of severity.

Most people think of anxiety as someone stressing over a test, or an essay, or homework, or a class in general. That’s anxiety as a lot of high school students see it, but would it shock you to know that there’s more to it for some?

Think of something you do on a daily basis. You talk to people, play sports, eat lunch, and participate in a various amount of clubs. Can you imagine having something inside of you hold you back from that? It may sound dumb but it’s a reality for some people.

Anxiety can make it hard for someone to talk to new people or speak in front of crowds. This could make them mumble, stumble over their words, or talk too fast for anyone to understand. My advice for this is to try to understand that the person is uncomfortable and be patient. Anxiety gives a person a ton of fears and it can hinder them when trying out for soccer, basketball, or baseball. The thought of messing up or humiliating themselves could run through their mind and create a whirlwind of negativity. Will people see me and think only of this moment? Will they tease me now? These fears hinder what they can do sometimes if they don’t know how to manage the anxiety.  

Anxiety can cause a person to lose control too. Their body can start to shake, they can start to cry and hyperventilate. It’ll feel like your chest is constricting at times and that feeling is one that I wish I’d never have to feel again. Anxiety can also make a person shut down. A person can stare blankly at a wall or just refuse to talk for a while. It’s as if they went on autopilot.

For example, I can’t throw something out in the cafeteria by myself without thinking that everyone is watching me or answer a question without worrying about getting teased for answering incorrectly. Also, I mentioned that anxiety can affect how a person talks. Everyone who knows me or has been around me enough has realized that I talk faster than anyone can understand sometimes. I’ve heard people joke around about it with me. Now, the joking doesn’t bother me because they’re not wrong when they say that I’m talking way too fast. I have come to terms with it, but they don’t realize it’s because I have anxiety and it’s hard for me to talk to people that I’m not completely comfortable with. I don’t feel as if I’m hindered by the speed at which I talk, however if you stumble, mumble, or talk fast then I completely understand and just want you to know that it’s going to be okay. You’ll do great at whatever you’re trying to do.

I’ve come to terms with the fact that I won’t ever get rid of my anxiety. It’s something that stays with you because it’s a part of you. I can’t get rid of it but I can learn to manage it so that I can do more of what I want to do. Let me tell you, it’s not an easy process. I’m still trying to make my voice heard more and attempting to participate more than I am. Each time I do something that I normally wouldn’t, I start to panic a little but I push my way through it. It’s a great feeling when you get through the anxiety and just go for it. If I’m being honest, once my neighbor left I started to jump around inside because I didn’t stumble over my words and I managed to talk at an understandable speed. That’s an accomplishment. It’s the kind of accomplishment that can mean a lot to someone with anxiety so don’t be afraid to make small goals like that even if they seem ridiculous.

Anxiety can come in many different forms depending on the person and it’s important for people to recognize this. People need to start learning more about how to help someone with anxiety. I don’t want pity and I’m sure nobody else wants pity just because they struggle with anxiety. It makes life a bit more difficult until you know how to manage it but that doesn’t mean I want someone to feel bad for me. I know I can do this. Support is always great but don’t feel bad over our situation. Honestly one of the best things you can do is be patient, listen, and stick it through. I promise that there’s probably an amazing person in there once they trust and feel comfortable around you.

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