Facing School with Anxiety by Jenna Perry

Anxiety is a mental health disorder characterized by feelings of worry, anxiousness, or fears that are strong enough to interfere with one’s daily activities. Imagine being a highschooler with anxiety. Now imagine being a high schooler with honors classes, mean girls, heartless teachers, judgemental jocks, the coronavirus, non-working chrome books/internet, and anxiety. It is like swimming in the ocean with no land in sight, walking down a dark alley and not knowing what is waiting for you, it is like trying to remember all of the conversations in a crowded room, and it is seemingly the worst chest pain you could imagine. It is the biggest headache and the most butterflies. Sometimes you have to stop in the middle of what you are doing and gather yourself. It puts stress on you that you do not need. Being a senior in high school is already hard enough, adding a mental health disorder to the mix makes it much harder. 

Walking into a crowded classroom with students you have gone to school with your whole life does not seem like something to worry about, but someone with anxiety is going to make it hard on themselves because that is what their brain is telling them to do. “Are they staring at me?” “Is my outfit okay?” “Am I walking too loud?”, all questions that run through an anxious mind. Walking into the gymnasium when half of the school is already in there, you feel them staring, but in reality no one is even paying attention to you. That is anxiety. Have you ever had to do a presentation in front of the class? Nervous right? That is what someone with anxiety feels like everyday. You hate when the teacher calls on you because everyone turns and looks at you as soon as they hear your name. You hate all of the eyes on you, you start to shake and forget what the question even was. This is anxiety. 

You sit in class while the teacher lectures and the room is shaking. You wonder why, but then you look down and your leg is bouncing. It is bouncing so fast that the whole entire room is shaking. This is anxiety. After you notice that your leg is shaking, you get even more anxious due to the fact you know everyone in the class felt it too. You can never concentrate on the teacher because you are worried about what you are doing in your next class. When you get to your next class you make sure to get there on time because if you are late you will worry about getting in trouble or the whole entire class looking at you and wondering. But you also do not want to be too early because then everyone looks at you as they make their way to their seats. This is anxiety. 

Walking across the courtyard, which feels a mile long, you make no eye contact with anyone. If you make eye contact with the mean girls, you will feel judged. If you make eye contact with the administration, you will feel like you are in trouble. So you walk with your head down and avoid unwanted conversations. You make sure not to run into anyone on the crowded stairs because an altercation is the last thing you can handle. You make sure to walk at the right pace up the stairs because going too slow, people might get mad and go too fast, people might look at you funny. You never thought walking from class to class would be such an issue right? Well you do not know everyone’s story. Anxiety will do crazy things to your mind and body. 

Sitting in class while you are cracking your knuckles and you are cracking your back. People wonder why you are constantly doing this and the answer is, sitting still for too long is not for an anxious person. You have to move or you feel restricted. You have to keep yourself busy so you don’t worry. Our high school classes are forty minutes and that is way too long to sit in a seat. Most teachers do not have students getting out of their seats this year because of the virus, which sucks. Therefore, cracking your whole entire body takes the edge off of what is going on in your mind, even if it is just for the slightest time. Seems odd, I know, but this is anxiety. 

I have had teachers pull me aside and ask me if I was okay. The word okay sometimes frightens me because not being okay goes against society’s standards, especially for a so called “popular” girl who is captain of the cheer squad and on the varsity track team. When people ask if I am okay that gives me anxiety, who would have figured? I normally say yes because having to explain the backstory of not being okay is scary. I used to get made fun of for being quiet in school, but there was a reason why I wouldn’t talk in class, even if I sat next to friends. The rules have always been to not talk while the teacher is talking, so why would I risk getting in trouble? I thought I was just a goody two shoes but in reality I’ve always had anxiety. 

Teachers and students need to be aware of students with mental health disorders. You have to be cautious with certain things, and at some points you need to give accommodations. You can not yell at some kids in front of a bunch of people. You can not make them do things that they do not want to do. People with anxiety generally think some things are impossible to do. Such as getting in front of the class and talking about something  they are not comfortable with.  I genuinely believe that schools need to think more about the students with anxiety and other mental health issues. We need more counselors and social workers for these issues. Going to school with anxiety is like facing your biggest fear. I envy my classmates that enjoy walking into school everyday. I envy the ones that get in front of the class and do not have any fears. I envy the ones that are not afraid of the mean girls, jocks, or getting called on. I envy the ones that do not have anxiety. 

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