Note: These are questions originally asked to me on our Quora space. If you have a question you’d like to ask, contact me or go ahead and post on the Quora space 🙂
Question: I’m a 15 yr old girl. I’m in such a bad mindset. I’m constantly breaking down, having panic attacks, and extremely overwhelmed. I don’t want to be here anymore. My parents aren’t supportive and likely won’t get me help. What can I do?
Answer: Hi! First of all, I’m so sorry to hear about what you’re going through. I know from experience how difficult it is, but parents not being supportive makes this insanely MORE difficult.
The good news is, there is a lot you can do to manage this on your own, and you will learn a lot that way as well. I have an anxiety disorder, and the most I have learned from having anxiety is honestly just dealing with it on my own and learning the mental “tricks” and general activities I needed to do to make it manageable. This is easier said than done. But I want to empower you to know that you don’t necessarily have to rely entirely on outside help — that developing the confidence that there’s a lot you can do to defuse the anxiety yourself is important, even if definitely feels more difficult.
In fact, you will want to be able to rely primarily on yourself because that is the core thing that will get you through all of this. That is not to say you won’t NEED outside help sometimes. You might. But it’s not something to become dependent on (this can actually worsen anxiety in the long run!).
One thing you can absolutely do is seek out support groups online. These would typically be in the form of forums, anxiety websites, and Facebook groups. One of these websites is Anxiety Space. There are also support groups on meetup.com that very often have anxiety & depression groups that meet up. This will be more likely if you live in a bigger city.
The most important thing on top of seeking support in this way is going to be developing the right mindset toward your anxiety. You need to approach it in the way of not really fighting or rejecting it (because this can actually FEED it), but rather, asking the question, “what can I do to master this? how can I become a student of my own mind and of anxiety itself so I can manage this for the rest of my life?” And set out to do whatever it takes.
Anxiety is a mindset game, which means it’s extremely easy for the anxiety to feed itself (in fact, that’s usually what it does and how it even becomes escalated). It is much easier to control anxiety before it gets out of control than it is when you are already at panic level. So, you’ll want to become very good at noticing the kinds of thoughts you have that tend to make the anxiety worse. This will be often be “what if” thoughts and negative feelings that pop up that the anxiety itself produces.
You can also seek out “CBT workbooks” or just books on CBT in general that will help you identify how your mind escalates your anxiety and will help you become better at then controlling them.
Also look up “breathing exercises for anxiety.” Taking repeated deep breaths during anxiety and panic is super important. Breathing deeply essentially tells your body that there is no imminent threat and that it can calm down, in the very least to some degree.
I would also look for podcasts you can listen to on mastering anxiety.
Once you are already at panic level, often the best thing to do is keep yourself busy with something physical, or alternatively, something that easily absorbs your mind. This could be playing a computer game (I used to play WoW). For a time in my life, my anxiety was so bad I could rarely sit still, so I used to work in my mom’s garden for hours. This helped because not only was I doing something physical, it was something I could focus on outside of just my mind’s activity. So I would get in the habit of figuring out something you can do that is physical that you can also focus your mind on (i.e. not just taking a walk, but maybe listening to a podcast while you’re on that walk so you’re not left alone with your thoughts).
Lastly I would be curious to look into what is causing your anxiety. There could be multiple factors at play and sometimes it’s worse when you can’t exactly identify what’s causing it, but it’s important regardless of the cause to get a handle on being able to properly manage it. But, it’ll be helpful to know what elements in your life are making you feel this way as well. Sometimes it can be things you’re not necessarily identifying or realizing are contributing. Such as family issues or general instability in some other way in your life.