My name is Mackenzie and I’m 13 years old. I wanted to write this article to talk about anxiety and share a bit about my story with what I have experienced.

I’ve had anxiety for many years, sometimes it’s more noticeable than others. I don’t know exactly when it started but I would say around the age of 7 is when I began to notice it more.

Anxiety is the body’s natural reaction to stress. It is an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, fear, nervousness, worried thoughts, and maybe physical changes like an increase in blood pressure or your heart start racing. Researchers aren’t exactly sure what causes anxiety but it has something to do with genetics, environment and brain chemistry. The causes of anxiety can be different for different people.  Anxiety could be caused by a big change or a build-up of smaller events containing quite a bit of emotion. Sometimes one little thing could remind you of something that happened in the past and that could create feelings of anxiety. An event could be happening around you or even near that could be stressful which could also cause anxiety. Some people’s personalities are more likely to get certain types of anxiety than others and we all cope with this in different ways. Anxiety is extremely common but it’s important to know when to ask for help.

Frequent spells of anxiety can be classified as a disorder, this needs to be diagnosed by a doctor. There are multiple different types of anxiety disorders some are: panic disorder, phobia, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, separation anxiety disorder, illness anxiety disorder, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).   Anxiety may feel very different for you than for someone else.  There are symptoms that could determine the possibility of anxiety; it could feel like butterflies in your stomach, having your heart race or even feel out of control, sweaty palms or your mind feeling disconnected from your body. You may feel it as panic attacks, painful thoughts or memories you can’t control, a general feeling of worry or fear, or maybe even fear of a place or event. Anxiety could be increased heart rate, trouble breathing, rapid breathing, restlessness, trouble concentrating or staying focused, difficulty falling asleep.  Just know that it’s okay to feel this; acknowledge it and then it’s easier to work through.

If you have gone to the doctor and have been diagnosed with anxiety, your doctor will talk with you about treatment options and work out a plan. Some cases don’t need treatment, a simple change could help cope with symptoms. For moderate to severe cases, treatment with counselling and/or medications could help overcome symptoms and lead to a more manageable day-to-day lifestyle.

With my anxiety, something would set me off and I would feel trapped in a loop. I would experience the traumatic events that happened to me in my mind over and over. My heart would race, I would have trouble breathing and I would feel like something bad was happening all around me. I’d feel trapped. To help break this loop, something would happen, like my dog barking.  With this, I found something that made me happy and took my mind away from the loop. I was able to acknowledge where my mind went, how I felt and why.  I could then bring my focus to positive thoughts and things I’m grateful for.  I would still be upset but I would hug my dog, a friend or even a pillow. It would just give me a sense of safety and would calm me down. One thing I do and that I would strongly recommend is talking to your parents about how you’re feeling and why. It helps to express your feelings and get all those emotions out. You will feel better when you release the emotions that are built up. If you are not comfortable talking to your parents, talk to another family member or seek counselling with a professional.