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Living with anxiety disorders

There are 12 different types of anxiety disorders in the world, from panic disorder to selective mutism. Over 40 million people suffer from anxiety disorders in the U.S., including me.
To start off, in early February of 2023, I was diagnosed with panic, social anxiety, and generalized anxiety disorder by my therapist. I am currently unmedicated and rely on coping mechanisms to help control my stress, but that’s very hit or miss. Sometimes it works, but sometimes it doesn’t. I also try to get essential oils that are known to calm people down, like an aromatherapy diffuser with lavender oil, and drink things that can calm down the nerves, like tea. These strategies work around half the time.
My anxiety keeps me from doing things that I want to do. One of the many examples I have is a speech for a Umoja (a writing workshop) graduation. I wrote a very powerful speech about mental health that I was supposed to do to open with, but when it was almost time to deliver the speech, I started to panic. So I told the person that I wasn’t going to make the speech and after the event, I was disappointed in myself because I didn’t deliver the speech and let my anxiety win over me and what I do.
But sometimes I do things in spite of my anxiety, like I auditioned for the school musical “The Mystery of Edwin Drood.” I went in having a borderline panic attack, but a kid I don’t remember the name of helped me calm down, telling me that I’ll do good. I sang the song I prepared, and after that I felt like a weight was lifted off my chest. I was laughing hysterically for 10 minutes straight, no joke. I ended up not getting the part, but I joined the tech crew so I can still be a part of the musical.

One way to deal with stress is medication. There are types of medication that can reduce the feelings of stress. They typically prescribe Benzodiazepines, which include Alprazolam (Xanax), Clonazepam (Klonopin), and Diazepam (Valium). But sometimes these medications don’t work, especially Xanax, which can be addictive. According to the American Addiction Centers, “It is considered one of the most addictive Benzodiazepine medications on the market today. Risks are higher in people who take the doses of 4 mg/day for longer than 12 weeks, but anyone who abuses the drug could be at risk for addiction,” and last year almost 45,000 people were treated for issues related to heavy abuse of Benzos like Xanax.
Another way to deal with stress that doesn’t have a chance of addiction is breathing techniques. One breathing technique I personally use is Diaphragmatic Breathing. Diaphragmatic breathing is done by inhaling through your nose, while keeping your shoulders relaxed, then exhaling through your mouth, purse your lips as you are exhaling, a soft “whoosh” might happen as you exhale. This breathing technique works around 45% of the time, which might not seem like alot, but it’s more of a percentage than other techniques. Other breathing techniques include mindfulness breathing, equal breathing, resonance breathing, and sitali breathing to name a few.
Another alternative to meditation is Essential oils, Lavender is my go to for oils. Lavender affects the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for feeling related to anxiety. Lavender has the chemicals Linalool and linalyl acetate, which can produce an anxiolytic effect via inhibition of voltage-gated calcium channels, reduction of 5HT1A receptor activity, and increased parasympathetic tone. Clary sage can also reduce feelings of stress, this herd can produce an antidepressant effect, and deals with stress best because it has an effect on cortisol, the stress hormone.
Stress takes a toll on everyone. It is sometimes hard to get rid of, like a shadow or a thought. But there are ways to get rid of stress, some natural, some that you can do at home, and others that don’t necessarily work all the time like medication, which can become addictive. What I say is do whatever you think works for relieving your stress (except drugs or alcohol of course), and don’t let stress take over your life.

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About the Contributor
Dominick Brown, Writer/ Copy Editor
Bonjour, my name is Dominick Brown. I'm a sophomore at FNH and I’m a writer/copy editor for the newspaper. I’m involved in Technical Theater and Umoja. I am also the founder and co-adviser of the North High Grief Share group. I have 3 brothers and one sister. I have 3 pets, a chinchilla named Momo, a dog named milo, and a cat named Sushi. I've lived in Fargo for about 2 years now.  I joined the Scroll because I wanted to tackle the problems in the school and make them known and give pointers on how to handle them, and to give my opinion on certain issues.
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