• Elena Vallejo

Finger Tapping Through Tough Times

“Even when we cannot control the situation around us, we can always choose where we are directing our attention.” This quote by Liz Stanley is good advice in these stressful times. When I am anxious, I tap my fingers. One, two, one, two - thumb to index, thumb to middle, thumb to ring finger, thumb to pinky, repeat. As the fear inside me rises my fingers move faster. This is a sure sign that my anxiety disorder is real.

I was a sophomore in high school when I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder but it was something I had been struggling with since seventh grade. Though I have mastered the art of hiding this disorder from others, it affects me every day. I am a very outgoing person but due to my unbalanced chemical levels sometimes I just can’t get out of bed. I often have trouble completing everyday tasks. Not answering phone calls, putting off responsibilities, not speaking up, and fighting off panic attacks are things that happen daily. I get nervous to talk to people, sometimes even to those who I am close to. My struggles became stronger and soon even when I was out of bed I was hiding in the background. My anxiety began to change who I was and I was letting it. As much as I may have wanted to, I can’t stay in bed my entire life.

I had a life to live and I deserved to live it in the spotlight.

It was time to find a solution to this problem. I tried to fight the idea of taking medicine but I needed the help. We (my mother and I) talked to my doctor and I began to take Lexapro. It made doing the things I love like theatre, photography, and being socially involved easy again. The panic attacks became a more uncommon thing. As I grew stronger and developed a sense of control over my body again I was able to take myself off the medicine. At times my anxiety still gets in the way but I am proud of how far I’ve come. I am stronger than my thoughts. Even during this pandemic and the fight for racial justice, I have taken photos. Capturing these special moments for people gives me purpose and that motivates and calms me. Even though the world around me is exploding, I have found a way to do what I love.

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