April 4, 2018 at 5:30 p.m.

Ashlyn Martin: Living with anxiety

By By Ashlyn Martin-

Editor's note: HSJ Online has begun a writing internship program in conjunction with Hauser High School. Ashlyn will be writing monthly columns for the website through the Spring 2017 semester.

Everybody has that feeling from time to time, the feeling where your heart starts racing, your hands get sweaty, and you're nervous. Maybe it's because you are about to make a speech in front of a large group of people, or maybe you are about to get buckled into that roller coaster. It is an entirely normal feeling to feel. Until it's not, or until it goes a bit too far.

We call it anxiety. The truth of the matter is that anxiety was built into the human genetics to help as a kind of survival instinct. For example, if you try leaning over the edge of a cliff, you'll probably get scared about losing your balance or tipping over, so you don't get close enough for harm to come to you. Hence, the survival part -- it's necessary.

However, it goes a little too far in some people.

I am one of those people.

Toward the end of my eighth grade year in school, I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder, panic attack disorder and OCD. I could barely function through an entire day. I was always on edge, always nervous, to the point that I could not sit in class and would have to get up and run out every so often just to try and calm myself down. I would sit there feeling like I was suffocating, like I was dying.

At first, my parents and I had no idea what it was. Anxiety had just been as invisible to me as to any other average person. But things got worse. I couldn't eat, I couldn't move out of fear of something bad happening, I couldn't even get out of the house because my worries were so bad. The maddening thing was, everything I was worried about was about as likely to happen as a pig getting struck by lightning. That never made it any less frightening.

I am sharing this for all of you. For all of the worrywarts, the people with anxiety disorders, the people who need to hear that someone knows how they feel. But I'm also writing this for the level-headed, the people who don't let their worries destroy their lives, the ones who aren't even nervous at all, because we need you to know about it. Everybody needs to know about it. Maybe that way, we can all be a little bit gentler, a little bit more helpful.

The truth is that anxiety makes you a warrior. For the ones who fight it every day, it's a constant battleground, and these next couple of words go straight out to you.

I promise there is hope for a better day. You're incredibly strong. Just keep living.[[In-content Ad]]