The Hoof Print (McDonough, Georgia)
Nerves rattle. Sweat rolls down her face. It’s pitch black, and it feels like the world is closing in on her. She’s crying and thinking of all the ways something could go wrong. The possibility of hyperventilating and passing out looms over her head.
This is what Grace Galentine, sophomore, experienced during her most recent panic attack. She struggles with anxiety, a highly common mental illness that creates a feeling of worry, nervousness or unease.
“Just breathe and calm down,” she tells herself when her anxiety flares up. She said, “It makes you feel like your chest is really tight and like if you were claustrophobic in a really small space. It’s just hard to breathe and it feels like you’re trapped.”
She’s struggled with anxiety her whole life, but she combats it by going to therapy, which she believes is very conducive to her health.
Seth Portwood, school social worker, deals with cases of anxiety on a daily basis. He recognizes that there is a stigma surrounding mental illnesses, but he rejected this thought and said, “We’re all not shy about going to get our hearts checked out or our lungs checked out, but if somebody has a mental health issue, they act like it’s a whole different category.”
He continued, “Mental illness is very real… It’s not a character flaw. It’s something somebody’s had to work through and deal with.”
He encourages people to seek treatment whether through therapy or medication if necessary. To those who live with anxiety like Galentine, Portwood gives words of encouragement: “You’re not alone. There are lots and lots of people in this world who are or have struggled with anxiety, and when you open up about that to people that you can trust, you’ll find out that you’re not alone.”
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