Andrea's Teenage Anxiety
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Andrea grew up with straight A’s and popularity throughout her school as well as good relationships with the cute guys in class. However, once the school board re-zoned the local districts, she was required to transfer into a new school and lose all of her long-established relationships. The one thing that Andrea wants teenagers to understand is that anxiety can strike anybody at any time, regardless of how cool or popular they may be – From the cheerleader to the math geek – Anybody can experience anxiety and panic attacks.
Alot of Friends
Andrea started at her new school, where she met lots of new friends, and everything was going well. However, she couldn’t understand why she suddenly began to feel lonely even though she was surrounded by good people all the time. Over time it began growing more painful to be in her new environment, and she soon found herself hating every step that she took to and within hew new school. She had never felt this way before – She always loved school, but she couldn’t quite understand why this was happening to her – Why now? The anxiety became worse with time, and Andrea began worrying to the degree that she felt the need to go into the bathroom and throw up. She soon began to avoid school and would sometimes skip out on the whole day in order to avoid the pain of anxiety, so she decided to describe the situation to her parents who promptly directed her to visit with every psychiatrist in the area. The psychiatrists prescribed an anti-anxiety medication called Ativan, but the the anxiety persisted. Her parents decided to pull her out of class and set-up a home-schooling curriculum, which was the last thing that Andrea ever wanted for herself, but it was done. She and her parents decided that she would need to attend at least one class in school each week and attend social events three days per week in order to spend time with her friends and develop new relationships.
A Fight with her Parents
One day Andrea got into a huge fight with her parents, and she threatened to run away from home. In return, her father threatened to give her no place to stay, and so she went to her weekly class that day and sobbed alone in the bathroom when another panic attack came on. Having forgotten her Ativan at home, her symptoms included a stomach ache and something similar to bad heart-burn with shaking arms and legs. She endured the panic attack and she managed to regain her composure by the time that her mom picked her up and took her home, where Andrea isolated herself in her room in order to try and reduce the stimulation of her challenging day with her parents. Although she was frustrated with each of them, Andrea decided to help her mother to understand how she was feeling, and “Finally I mustered up the courage to tell my parents I had had another anxiety attack. Then, for the first time in my whole life, I saw BOTH my parents cry. It was then that I realized how much they cared about me, and how devastated they were that I had to go through something so awful. My mom told me that she felt depressed all the time because I was hurting so much and there was now way she could help me. It was then that I realized I had to face my fears.” The Ativan continued helping her to reduce her anxiety temporarily, and she started seeing her boyfriend when Andrea began to feel that things were turning around.
Her psychiatrist, Dr. Smith suggested that she begin easing back into school full-time and begin acclimating to a new life with new friends. Since that time she has grown older and experiences significantly less anxiety. Andrea indicates that “Now that I'm older, I still get the occasional panic attack, maybe four or five times a year. But now I know how to control my anxiety, and how to make it work for my benefit. My anxiety no longer controls me, and I have the ability to worry when it's necessary and just relax when it's not.”
The Importance of Human Connection
Losing valuable social connections can profoundly disrupt a person’s sense of security, which may lead to anxiety disorders and panic attacks. However, the key for Andrea was in moving forward with establishing safe and healthy connections while facing her fears, and although medication served as a temporary solution for intermittent symptom flare-ups, it was her sound relationship-building and a strength to face her fears and achieve her goals that helped her to move forward with her life.
The original first person story can be found at the following link: http://www.experienceproject.com/stories/Am-A-Teen-With-Anxiety/129371
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