Our Anxiety


Sydney McCabe and Tatum Tylke

(Key; Tatum-italics, Sydney-bold)

Sydney: Anxiety is an overwhelming fear. For some, it might just be a test or an upcoming event. For others, everyday anticlimatic life events can be accompanied by underlying dread and an impending sense of doom. Anxiety is different from typical nerves, it’s a real problem that people often self-diagnose themselves with as a quirky trait.

Panic attacks are different from anxiety attacks, they don’t come from a certain situation. They happen randomly and are hard to get rid of since there’s no cause. I used to get them frequently. Anxiety attacks as well, especially at night. Almost everyone has at least one anxiety attack in their life, even if it’s just before a test.

Anxiety can be crippling, especially for people such as Tatum, who is also writing this article. Tatum suffers from social anxiety. Tatum: I find it hard to talk to people I am unfamiliar with. Once a girl in my study hall asked to borrow a pen. When she returned it, she said, “Thanks,” and I couldn’t respond. I tried to say “You’re welcome,” but the words disappeared before they reached my tongue. 

I run through situations in my head. For example, I think about how I’m going to hold my book as I read it in ELA. Should I cross my legs? Should I rest my hand against my head? What if that’s uncomfortable; should I have my book in my lap? I always feel like someone is watching my every move, waiting for me to screw up. I’m very self-conscious whenever I’m around people I don’t know very well. 

 My fellow writer and close friend Sydney also deal with anxiety. OCD affects her daily life, as well as panic attacks. Sydney: Yes, Tatum’s right. The intrusive thoughts accompany my daily life. It’s gotten better as I’ve learned to handle it though. One thing I used to do was count numbers in my head. I never realized that could’ve been related to something else. I’d count to 5 five times; 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, pause, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, etc. After I counted to 5 five times to get 25. I’d do that 5 times. I don’t know why, I don’t know how it started, I don’t know why the number 5. It wasn’t a calming technique. Sometimes, it even made me stressed to make sure I had the right numbers. Another habit I wish I could break is doing everything in even numbers. When I eat, it has to be in even numbers, or if it’s only one piece I have to chew it on both sides of my mouth so that both sides are even. When I walk, if I can help it I avoid thinking about the cracks in the concrete because once I start thinking about them, I can’t stop. I have to find the perfect number of steps between each crack. (So that my feet are even, of course.)

I also have habits like washing my hands over and over and over again, not because of germs, but smell. I can not stand when my hands smell weird. I check all the doors in my house every 5 seconds when I’m home alone and freak out when I hear a noise. I’m sure I imagine and make everything worse than it really is but the paranoia has a hold over me. There are other things I do, too. The worst part of it all is that I can’t control it, sometimes it’s really bad and some days are just normal. It’s frustrating to not be able to control the one thing everyone always has control over; your own thoughts and actions.

Then there are the intrusive thoughts, if I’m doing something and an unwanted thought pops up I developed a technique to try and get rid of it. I say the words “no association” over, and over, and over again until the thought goes away. There are also certain foods and shows that have so many positive memories associated with them that I can’t think of bad things when eating/watching them.

Everybody has different ways of dealing with anxiety, like techniques and counseling, games, etc.

Tatum: This year I realized I don’t have much confidence in myself and my abilities. I fear every day. I fear tripping on the stairs, dropping my book, or future events. I envision myself and what I would do when something bad and embarrassing happens. For example, driving. I do not trust my life in my hands.

I can’t build up my confidence, I can only bring it down. During golf whenever I top the ball, and it only goes a foot, instead of thinking positively, I think negative thoughts. I can’t stop them either, they just keep coming. 

I talk to myself in the third person. I make myself into two people sometimes, it’s hard to explain. I create unlikely scenarios in my mind and put myself into them. I speak out loud and see the event in my mind. I daydream. I see the world around me, but I also don’t. I start out in a whisper and then speak in a normal tone. I used to only do this alone in my room, but I have recently found myself doing it in public. I don’t even realize I’m doing it until someone asks what I said. 

In the end, maybe we’re just crazy. Who knows?  Sydney: Yeah, maybe, or maybe this is all rational and reasonable. We couldn’t tell you, we just wanted to share out thoughts and feelings in case they help anyone else out there.