Imagine having a big, deep, dark pit in your mind, so deep you can just about see the bottom. Then imagine jumping into this pit because one little worry sets you off.  You then sit in this pit with all your insecurities, messed-up thoughts and negativity flowing throughout your body, consuming you and making you feel worthless. It’s a never-ending, downward spiral and even when you think it’s over, you still manage to go deeper and deeper into this sunken place.  It feels like you can never escape from this pit and you end up spending hours wallowing in worries, trying to climb out but not really managing to. Well, that is what anxiety feels like and it sucks.

When I am having an anxiety attack, the last thing I want to hear is ‘it’s ok’ and ‘don’t worry, everything will be fine,’ because in that moment it just doesn’t help.  The well-intended comforting is just a continuous reminder of my worries.  The best help someone can give me during an attack is space and alone time so I can calm my thoughts.  This gives me time to gather myself and try to climb back out of my worry pit. Eventually I can think straight enough to realise that the worry is nothing.

To help with anxiety, my school put in a system called STOPP, where you are supposed to train yourself to stop your negative thought process and worries when they start, to prevent the rising panic/anxiety attack from happening.  The challenge with STOPP is that when you are having an anxiety attack, you are not thinking logically and even though you are trying to tell your mind to stop from jumping into your worry pit, it does not want to listen.

Instead of, or maybe in addition to STOPP, what we really need is access to peace and quiet, so we can rearrange our thoughts.  If more places, including my school, created calming, worry-free zones. painted with relaxing colours and furnished with bean bags, fiddle toys, headphones to listen to music and therapeutic smells life with anxiety would be better.  There could even be pieces of paper and a box outside the room, where you could write your worries on the piece of paper, then fold it up and put it in the box, leaving your anxious thoughts behind, so you can calm your mind and relax your body as you enter the worry-free zone.

Anxiety is no walk in the park, it’s not fun, it’s messy and out of your control which is really annoying, but you get through it.  There are tips and methods that help, like creating more worry-free zones and informing your friends, teachers and family that it’s ok to be left alone, it is not rude, it is actually helpful.  Anxiety is not a weakness, turning up and doing stuff with anxiety takes a strength most will never know and remember people with anxiety are not rude, we are just a bit stuck.