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“I’m not ashamed”

Kayla Barry shares the struggles she faces every day due to anxiety.

Kayla Barry shares the struggles she faces every day due to anxiety.

Curstine Guevarra

Kayla Barry shares the struggles she faces every day due to anxiety.

Curstine Guevarra

Curstine Guevarra

Kayla Barry shares the struggles she faces every day due to anxiety.

“I’m not ashamed”

Anxiety is a prevalent issue among teens

November 2, 2017

It’s the first day of my junior year. I wake up feeling sick, making my way to the bathroom as quickly as I can. I stand at the sink, breathing in and out, just trying to calm myself down. But then it starts. The sensation of throwing up comes over me, forcing me to put myself against the sink. My throat burns as my stomach is trying to bring something up that just isn’t there. I try to make it stop, but my body doesn’t allow me to breathe while this is happening. After a few minutes, it ceases, leaving me breathless and teary-eyed.

I deal with this every morning. At first, I thought there was something physically wrong with me. I went to the doctor this past summer to try to figure out what was happening. She told me everything seemed normal, but just to be sure, I should get my blood taken. When my blood tests came back, everything looked to be normal. But I always knew what it was, even if I did not want to admit it to myself.

It was anxiety.

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Anxiety, for me, is normal at this point. It started a few years ago but really became prominent last year.

I get anxiety when I have to speak in front of large groups of people, before an event, or at a social gathering. When this happens, my stomach begins to twist and turn, and I feel as though I am about to throw up. My breathing and heart rate increase, sometimes resulting in panic attacks. Everything stops once the event is over and all the overwhelming feelings subside.

Questions always swarm my brain before this happens. What if someone thinks I’m stupid? What if someone asks me a question and I don’t know the answer? What if I say something wrong?

Thinking about these questions only increases my anxiety. It usually spirals out of control, causing me to stay up the night before, or even forcing me to stay home from school and skip the event altogether.  My anxiety prevents me from going out and spending time with my friends. Instead, all I want to do is stay home and sleep. I  have trouble making new friends and talking to people I don’t know because of my constant anxiety.

It stops me from being the outgoing girl I’ve always wanted to be.

And while it has been a struggle for me the past few years, I have begun my path of getting through it and keeping it under my own control.

I now see a therapist once a week to talk through my problems, and I try to prepare for the anxiety that comes with certain events. I recently started taking a medication that will help to restore the balance of serotonin levels in my brain. Serotonin plays a key role in a person’s mood.

To lessen the anxiety on a day-to-day basis, I drink tea, write, or just focus on my breathing.

Each time I raise my hand or speak in front of the whole class I take a step in the right direction. It proves to myself that I can face my anxiety.

Being able to control my anxiety will take time and I know that.  

Anxiety never really goes away; it is with you your whole life. But I understand now that there are ways for me to cope with it.

I still deal with anxiety every day. A lot of people do. And I’m not ashamed of it, I’m just learning to deal with it.

Anxiety is important to recognize and be aware of, as well as every other mental illness.

It is important to understand that you can never really know what someone else is going through, and you should try to be accepting and encouraging to everyone who is struggling with a mental illness.

Having anxiety is something people (like me) everywhere have to push through every day. It shouldn’t be a point of embarrassment, instead, those struggling with mental illness should be proud of their strength. As a community, we need to better support those who struggle.

Talking about my anxiety is not an easy task for me, but it is an important one.  It’s important for our school and quite frankly everyone in our communities to be aware that there is an open discussion about this very prominent issue in our society.

Anxiety is real and could be affecting anyone — even someone like me.


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5 Responses to ““I’m not ashamed””

  1. Matthew Morone on November 3rd, 2017 7:55 am

    What a brave and compelling piece, Kayla! I’m so proud of your perseverance through such a challenging situation. I know Pascack Valley has taken steps to address the rise of student anxiety, but continuing to highlight the issue is essential, and I commend you for doing so.

  2. Kyle Comito on November 3rd, 2017 3:56 pm


    This was phenomenal and extremely well-written. I’m so proud of you! It takes a lot of courage to write about something so personal like this, and I’m glad you were so open to speaking about it. Just know that you are not the only one— there are a lot of people out there going through the same exact thing as you!

    Keep killing it and being you.

  3. Eileen Surovich on November 4th, 2017 1:04 pm

    Kayla what an inspiration for everyone to read this great article. Everyone experiences anxiety…some to greater degrees then others and it takes courage to face it head on and deal with it. It seems you are dealing in a great way and sharing with others. What a terrific article and a huge inspiration to many.

  4. Amelia Moran on November 5th, 2017 8:07 pm


    To put yourself out there like this is so admirable and courageous and I couldn’t be prouder to have you as a friend. By doing this, you are impacting the many other kids who experience anxiety like you who may be too ashamed or scared to talk about it. Keep being the brave and intelligent person you are.


  5. Leah Jerome on January 12th, 2018 9:05 am

    This is such an inspirational piece, Kayla. You are so brave to speak openly about your anxiety. I’m sure this article will help others acknowledge their anxiety and seek help if needed. Thank you for your courage and this important piece of writing.

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