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I'm 17 With An Anxiety Disorder -- And I Deserve Better

I'm tired of having to walk someone through a panic attack over text. Not because I don't want to help them, but because they deserve better than "take deep breaths and think of puppies."
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I am notorious for a lot of things; over-posting on Instagram, calling celebrities "mom" and talking (almost obnoxiously) about my anxiety disorder. Everyone who already knows me also knows I have a mild-to-severe panic disorder (mild when it's sunny outside, severe when I'm at a doctor's office), which clearly makes me an expert on all there is to know mental health-wise (*sarcasm*).

I don't have a degree in psychology, and I can't guarantee anything to be a solution, a cure or even a buffer. I just know what my experiences are, and I know that sharing them and using them to better others is why they've happened to me. And, cutting to the chase, I've decided to take those potential bits of wisdom and use them to propel an online platform designed to help teenagers like myself.


Welcome to this crazy world, The Joy is Genius Campaign. (JIG Campaign, for a shorter, quirky nickname.) This is my plan to create a campaign for teenagers, curated by teenagers, to help manage stress, anxiety, mental illness and life during high school and to integrate a positive state of mind into the education environment.

Ever since my evolution into Unbreakable Kami Baker (thanks, Tina Fey, for that one), I've learned what I need to help my body, my mind and my peers. People have asked my advice in that "how does she do it?" tone for the past eight(ish) months on how to cope with stress and mental distress during their teen years. It makes me feel appreciated, stronger and more helpful to answer those questions, but it worries and pains me that other people my age have to come to me for help, instead of adults and programs, and healthy, educated bases.

As I said, I'm a 17-year-old girl who is occasionally too big for her britches (or rompers, depending on the weather) in terms of mental health. But I still do more for others than does the adult world that promises to save us from troubling things like anxiety, depression, ADHD and other common, handleable mental illnesses. Even daily stress can turn into worse and more challenging obstacles because, unlike algebraic expressions, students are not taught skills to balance their responsibilities. This leads to a comedic and empathetic, yet painfully frantic, community of young adults who would do anything possible to avoid their circumstances. (You've all seen those Tumblr text posts).

I'm sick of watching people go through things that, frankly, suck balls, to go through. I'm done with people not even understanding what is happening to others. I'm tired of having to walk someone through a panic attack over text. Not because I don't want to help them, but because they deserve better than "take deep breaths and think of puppies."

Not much is done for me at my school or community to aid in these issues. No programs have been created or developed to assist teens in leading better lives. (Besides gym class, which is hardly helpful for anything mentally-related. We are rarely taught yoga, meditation or sleeping skills. There's even HOMEWORK in gym class.) Yes, we have sociology and psychology classes, but those do not go as far as to help in the education of HOW to get through things.

There is still a massive stigma surrounding people with anxiety and depression in my school, and though teachers and counselors can be wildly sympathetic and helpful, no one really cares to educate the masses. I go to a large high school, and being surrounded by kids who don't know what's happening in their heads is a rough deal.

I realize there are totally awesome parts of public schools that provide us with so many benefits, but there is nothing wrong with free encouragement. Put up posters on the wall, teach us, not only what stress is, but how to really deal with it, paint some flowers on the wall, whisper sweet nothings in our ears, DO SOMETHING.

This is why I'm trying to motivate myself to start my campaign. I want to teach people around this country that the happier you are, the healthier you are, and the more sleep that you get, the more successful you can be. I was inspired by Arianna Huffington (God bless the queen) and her book, Thrive, to extend myself into the world and help in a way that can reach beyond myself and my issues. I want people to have a place to go to, not necessarily a person. I want a quiet, helpful corner of the world that understands that joy, peace, and harmony is at the core of wellness and creativity.


It is my goal to have a destination to teach teenagers how to manage stress, lead more engaging lives, and have stable and healthy relationships based on self-care and compassion. I've started a Twitter and Tumblr account for the campaign but have yet to truly enforce it. I'm not exactly what steps to take, but I want to form change in my school and in the schools around our nation as I start my senior year and my college career.

So, now, instead of the masses, I'm talking to you. How can you help? How can you instill your passion, patience, and confidence in the hearts of others?

Talk to me.

And let's keep pushing.



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