The Breakthrough


Lily Kaczmarski, Staff Writer

Anxiety started for me at a very young age. I was only nine years old and struggling to focus in school. I had no idea what was “wrong” with me, but in third grade that was when I started facing challenges.  I would always get upset and frustrated trying to do my work in school. Even though I had many of my friends, teachers, and my parents to help me when I was struggling to do homework and school assignments, nobody knew what was really going on with me deep down. 

Throughout elementary school, I struggled with math which caused me to panic attacks and very bad anxiety. I don’t believe it was math that started my anxiety but it was a big part of it. In fourth grade, my mom and dad told me I was going to start meeting with a therapist. Throughout fourth grade, I didn’t really understand why I needed to see a therapist. I just wanted to be a normal kid. My therapist got the information and details about how I’ve been very stressed out with school work (specifically math) and how I had been hurting myself. Those were the topics I would talk about with my therapist.

In fifth grade, that’s when the anxiety attacks started to kick in. I would absolutely just freak out in math class because I didn’t understand the work we were learning and I was very impatient. This caused me to start scratching my wrists and leaving permanent marks. My teacher would be worried about me and suggested that I try playing with fidget toys instead of hurting myself. That didn’t end up working  and soon enough my parents were involved.

Then, Covid came along and we were learning virtually and from home. I got very used to being at home and I felt safe. I didn’t get upset easily and was able to learn without being so stressed out. When I would need to join my meetings I would sit in my room and be able to have my door closed so it was quiet. Noise in my house wasn’t very common during virtual school hours because there were so many people in my house on calls for work and school. My room has always been a safe space for me to go into and get away from noises and other distractions that may be bothering me. 

When sixth grade came, I wasn’t nervous or anxious about moving into a new school with many more people in it. I was excited because I was starting something completely new. I got my schedule, knew the way to my classes, and was doing great with schoolwork and adjusting. I didn’t struggle with sixth grade as much as I did in elementary school, and that really surprised me. But one day I was called down to the guidance office.

 I didn’t know if I got in trouble or something needed to be fixed with my schedule. It was neither of those. I was called down to take a test to check my math level to see where I should be placed in math for seventh and eighth grade. The woman who gave me the test seemed very nice, it was just the math that freaked me out. All the problems were topics I had learned in elementary school, but I have a bad memory and couldn’t remember how to do anything. I had an anxiety attack the second I left that room. I was pressured into taking a test I didn’t know about and I was so stressed the whole time I was solving the problems in front of me. 

The next day came and I had cooled down. I told my parents about this and both my mom and dad were upset that they hadn’t been notified about this test and the fact that it was out of nowhere. They both emailed my in-school counselor to notify them that they were upset with what had happened. After that, I never had any “surprise test” come up. 

Tests and quizzes were things that freaked me out the most. I never felt good about them and most likely I would go home crying the day after taking them. My parents always told me to “try my best” and “if you tried your best that’s all that mattered.” But that wasn’t all that mattered to me. I wanted to get good grades and make my parents proud. They were always proud of me but I never believed that then. The start of a test or quiz, I would usually take it in the hallway or sometimes a quiet room. This helped me because I wasn’t able to sit through a test or quiz in a quiet space with other students. But I was able to sit in a quiet room by myself. 

Seventh grade had already come and it was the same as sixth grade. Except this time, there were no surprise tests. I was in the extra help math class from sixth grade all the way to eighth grade. And I even struggled with that class. I knew that it wasn’t just me not understanding the work and getting impatient, but something else was wrong with me. I never had the idea to reach out for help because I thought I would be able to get better on my own, but oh boy was I wrong. 

I was struggling with some of the worst anxiety someone could experience. There were always so many thoughts running through my head and it was so hard to process all of them. I knew that there was something bigger than my anxiety and I had figured it out. I had suicidal thoughts. Nobody would have ever known because I was one of the happiest and nicest people on the outside, but on the inside I was slowly dying. All of my energy had been gone, I never wanted to hang out with anyone out of school, and I felt so alone. I would sit in my room after school and just cry until it physically hurt my stomach too much to cry. 

And then came eighth grade. It was an absolute nightmare. The first quarter was some of the toughest weeks I had ever been through. None of my friends and classmates really understood what I was going through, and that made me feel like I was so alone for weeks. It wasn’t until my mom and dad spoke to my counselor and my therapist suggesting something I had never thought of. Taking medication to stop my anxiety from mentally killing me. I was at my lowest point and there were no other options. I didn’t agree with it at first but then I knew it would be the best choice for me. A few weeks later I met with a psychiatrist. She was so nice and understanding of what I was going through. I knew that telling my parents and therapist what was really going on inside of me would help.

After writing my story, I want people to know that reaching out for help is the best thing you can do. If you are struggling with your own mental health, the best thing you can do is gain the confidence to reach out for help. In whatever situation you are in, just know that you and not alone and asking for help is the best way to heal.