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Living with Anxiety

Maddie+Westreich%2C+junior+finds+light+despite+her+struggles+with+anxiety.
Maddie Westreich, junior finds light despite her struggles with anxiety.

Maddie Westreich, junior finds light despite her struggles with anxiety.

Joesey Fetzer

Joesey Fetzer

Maddie Westreich, junior finds light despite her struggles with anxiety.

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Anyone who wears glasses knows the feeling of seeing clearly for the first time. You walk out of the optometrist’s office and for the first time you notice you can see all the individual leaves on the trees. You notice you no longer need to squint to read the chalkboard at school. You never really even realized there was even anything wrong with your vision because that’s just how you had always seen the world. People with 20/20 vision would never think about these revelations that my fellow not-so-20/20 vision people have after seeing clearly for the first time.

This revelation that my view of the world was different from others was quite similar to when I was first diagnosed with anxiety disorder two years ago.

One of the earliest symptoms of anxiety I experienced was when I was about 9 or 10 years old; I would always get headaches before math tests. The headaches progressed, and eventually I would completely forget everything I had learned leading up to the test. To combat this, I would spend way longer than any 10 year old should reviewing and studying everything we had learned so far in the year. Obviously this was a rather ineffective method of studying, which lead me to do poorly on tests; even though I knew the material. I was constantly comparing my grades to my classmate’s grades which literally crushed my self confidence.

Fast forward to middle school and I was still using the same, very ineffective study methods and getting the same grades which continued to push my self confidence lower and lower. Around this time was also when I experienced my first panic attack. I was presenting a debate for my eighth grade English class, and my chest felt so tight I thought my heart was going to fly out of my chest. As soon as my presentation was over I returned to my seat, shaking and out of breath. I called my mom to come pick me up from school, and as soon as I got into the car I completely lost control of all of my emotions. I physically couldn’t even take deep enough breaths to get words out.

I continued having panic attacks on a regular basis which lead me to finally go see my doctor. When he first diagnosed me with general anxiety disorder, I barely even believed my diagnosis. I was so used to just constantly feeling overwhelmingly stressed that I thought that was just how life was. Just like when I wore glasses for the first time, finding out I had this disorder made me realize that my view of the world was quite different from others. However, there is no quick fix for anxiety disorder. In order for me to see the world as others do from an emotional standpoint, I had to try medications until I found the right one, I had to go to a therapist so I could talk about all of the things going through my mind, and most importantly I had to open up to my loved ones about what I was going through.

 

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Living with Anxiety