I have anxiety.
I’m a 16 year old introvert who over the last year has figured out that she has anxiety. Now it’s not as severe as other people’s, but it’s definitely a constant battle: Aaliyah vs. Anxiety. Anxiety being defined as, “People with generalized anxiety disorder display excessive anxiety or worry for months and face several anxiety-related symptoms by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).
I think the first major anxiety attack I’ve had was at a Medieval Times conference in late December of 2017. I was already so overwhelmed with all of the people there, the little kids waving around their strobe lighted swords, and multiple conversations going at once. Then the really bad part came when we were ordering drinks and my mom told me to tell the man what I wanted. I froze and she kept nudging at me. I finally told him—well mumbled it.
As soon as I sat down at a table, I started crying. I didn’t know at the time, but some symptoms people with anxiety could look for are shortness of breath, hyperventilation, or frustration. I was upset for not knowing exactly why I was upset. In my head I thought, “How dare you make me order my own drink!” But, like, what’s so hard about that, right? Wrong. For people with anxiety, it’s hard to do simple things like talk on the phone. I hate talking on the phone—especially to strangers (like making appointments). And to make things even better, I am such a stress ball. I stress about everything, even stressing (seriously)!
The hard part for me was talking to my parents about this. I’m not a huge “let’s talk about my feelings” type of person. Even more so when it comes to my parents. It was hard for me because I felt like I put myself into this state of constant anxiety and I felt like I was going to be judged. I consider myself to be an introvert, which for me means that interacting with people in big crowds or “parties” isn’t my scene.
I didn’t have much friends to begin with, so when I went into online schooling I became even less social and I didn’t get out much. Was it my fault that I’m having anxiety now? Absolutely not. When I realized that anxiety is a mental health issue, I stopped blaming myself and finally went to talk to my parents about it. I told them how I was feeling and they were pretty supportive and adamant about figuring out some sort of solution.
It’s different for everyone, though. If you have, or feel that you have, anxiety, don’t blame yourself. Mental health is a topic that is rarely discussed, especially in the Central Valley.
Many youth are affected and yet it still feels like talking about teenagers with anxiety is such a taboo. Let’s stop tiptoeing around the fact that mental health disorders do in fact exist! We need to realize that our youth go through a lot. We owe at least that much to our youth. There are so many of them who suffer in silence.
Anxiety looks different for everyone, but one thing we should always know is it can be helped. For me, some days are better than others. Sometimes I do great, sometimes I challenge myself to do little things, like make a phone call and schedule myself an appointment instead of my mom having to do it for me. When I do it, it’s a moment of feeling like I have conquered something huge.
I know that as I get older and go through many more obstacles life has for me, I will be challenged. However, I know that there is always help and always people who will be there to help. My anxiety is not a taboo, and it is real. It is apart of my truth; I have anxiety.
If you feel like you are suffering from anxiety I encourage you to talk to your parents, guardians or a trusted person for help.
Here’s some local and staewide links to programs or for tips to help you manage your anxiety: