By: Bryanna Perez
Pridetime Senior Editor
“I wouldn't be able to breathe, it's a really scary feeling because you don't really know how to stop it or know when it's going to stop,” Sarah Conroy (‘19), explains after being asked what anxiety feels like to her.
According to doctor Sanne Van Rooij, fear, stress, and anxiety are ‘normal feelings and experiences,’ however, for most students, it can feel like a long-lasting time period.
Pridetime sat down with Sarah Conroy and a couple of other students at Brien McMahon High School to discuss topics of what it feels like to have anxiety.
“Iv had anxiety for as long as I could remember honestly,” Conroy explained. “I never really knew how bad it was until I got to high school.”
According to a doctor and psychologist Amy Przeworski, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the department of psychological sciences at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Individuals inherit a predisposition to being an anxious person, [and] about 30 to 40 percent of the variability is related to genetic factors.
For Conroy, the genetic factor was in fact inherited through both of her parents.
“I’ve seen my mom have panic attacks when she’s very stressed about work, but it's not as bad as mine.”
Unfortunately for Conroy, she suffers from panic attacks more frequently due to the process of thinking about college.
“Thinking about college I began to have a lot more panic attacks. I’ve decided that I want to attend NCC so I don't have as much anxiety anymore.”
Experts Jerilyn Ross, MA, LICSW, director of The Ross Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders, Inc., and Linda Andrews, MD, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, explained that it is important to challenge your thoughts and learn to relax.
Sensitization is the number one coping strategy for people with anxiety. Sensitizing is the act of using all five senses and using it to create a room setting that makes the individual more comfortable.
For example, one may feel more anxious in a lighter room whereas moving into a darker room would create a more relaxing state of mind. People who smell lavender or use it as an essential oil often uses sensitization as a coping strategy as lavender is supposed to relax the body.
Psychologist Michael D. Jacofsky explains that a person who sensitizes as an act of coping often more learns about, rehearses, and anticipates fearful events. This is known as a protective effort to prevent these events from occurring in the first place.
Jaeden Sanderson (‘20), who plays the trumpet for the McMahon Senators, is familiar with the sensitization mechanism.
Coming into Brien McMahon his freshman year after living at the Norwalk High School district his whole life, Sanderson explains how he first experienced anxiety being the new kid and not seeing any of his friends.
“When I first walked into McMahon, all I could think about were first impressions. I began to feel nervous and shaky and all I wanted to do was run out of the school.”
Sanderson explains how the act of sensitization has helped him get through his anxiety.
“Whenever I feel anxious, I go into my room and turn all of the lights off. I grab my headphones and listen to a specific playlist I created for myself in order to relax my head.”
Sanderson prefers to listen to Billie Ellis whenever feeling anxious.
Being that Sanderson is in the band he tends to turn to his band friends as a comfort spot because they may be going through the same things he does, but he also explains that they share the same mentality.
What most people don't understand is that it's not only the students who stress over school, or the new kids, but athletes suffer from anxiety as well.
The outfielder, Jason Thornley (‘19), experiences anxiety as soon as his cleat touches the grass.
In July of 2017, Thornley suffered from a shoulder injury that caused him to tear his labrum.
On August 14, 2017, Thornley went into surgery not knowing whether or not he was going to be able to play his senior year.
Due to the fact that he has been playing baseball for nine years, returning back to preseason workouts and the regular season gives Thornley anxiety.
Scott Goldman, a licensed psychologist who works for the NCAA, explains the perceived threat theory called, A Threat to Ego Integrity.
A threat to Ego Integrity is the future element causing anxiety for the individual that is typically a perceived threat or danger. An example of this would be a person thinking to themselves, “If I lose, then I am a loser.”
Thornley is familiar with this theory as it affects his performance during the game.
“Sometimes I think in my head that there could be a possibility I could re-tear my labrum and be done for good which makes me extremely cautious as to how hard I throw on the field, sometimes I don't play to my full 110% potential.”
Despite the social norms that are shown within these students and their anxiety, there are many ways to get help for those who are suffering from any mental health issue.
For more information go to, https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders/index.shtml