I am 15 and I struggle with Anxiety
Heavy fluorescent lights were flickering out of focus while geometric patterns invaded my vision. The beautiful world I once knew is collapsing; my greedy world is sipping the oxygen like wine out of my lungs, leaving me unable to fumble out two words: help me. My heart is at battle with blades suffocating the chest I was now clenching on the white tiled bathroom floor. Hot tears of fear were streaming down my neck where my two fingers lie, strangling to feel a pulse. Is my heart beating? Am I flat lining?
Check for a pulse..Check…for…pulse…pulse…please…once..last…beat…
The echoes of surrounding classrooms diminished, and my ragged breathes bounced off the walls. At this point I accepted my death. 'Found on the bathroom floor dead by classmates' the headlines would say, 'heart attack at age 13' another one would say. But before I could think of an ending prayer, I found myself stumbling down the hall. My art teacher approached me, speaking words that I couldn't comprehend. He half carried me down to a nurses office before the world became surreal.
This was my very first panic attack, age 13 in my middle schools' bathroom. It lasted six hours before I passed out because my 115 pound body had been in Fight or Flight for too long. These multiple hour long panic attacks occurred every single day for two months before I nearly fainted in the middle of Fred Meyer, I was sent to the ER where nurses tranquilized me because I hadn't slept more than ten hours in the past couple months. I was afraid if I fell asleep, I would never wake back up.
My name is Kylie Niemi and I struggle with Panic Disorder. I am 15 years old now, and medicated everyday and every night to manage my extreme emotions and violent nightmares that go along with Panic Disorder. But I do everything an "average" teenager is expected to do or have. I dance a few hours a week, I have lots of friends, a boyfriend, and great grades, I even get contacted by modeling agencies. I don't consider myself superior to other individuals who struggle with any sort of mental illness, but I do separate myself into my own category.
I cut myself on the leg at a motel when I was 14, in a bathroom where I locked myself in for many hours. I needed to feel real, this whole universe felt fake, something I don't think I could describe or even begin to explain, it's something you need to feel for yourself. At that point I had refused to take any sort of medication, I feared that one day I would get so panicked that I would try and overdose. I didn't trust myself.
My grandmother, "Nana", suggested to my mother to take me into Children's Hospital because she had a feeling that something a lot worse was happening in my head other than stress. No one had really thought about that because I couldn't even put my own emotions into words, I couldn't explain how I felt or what I was scared of.
I went and they diagnosed me with Panic Disorder, and I was on the radar for OCD and Anorexia. My life was tumbling downhill and all I could do was watch. Demons tormented me while I slept, and my brain bullied me while I was awake.
After one year of convincing, I started taking medication and it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Happiness flooded into my life, I'm in control most of the time, and I can last all day at school without getting picked up by my mom. As I said before, I separate myself into my own category. You must be wondering what makes my story or disorder so different from all the other teenagers in this world.
I don't let this label identify how I live my life, I don't let it control where I go. I started a project to spread awareness about mental illnesses in children. I spoke out to my followers on Instagram about my battle, along with a video, and I have received so much praise about what an inspiration I am.
But all I did was speak out about mental illness? If I broke my leg and talked about what happened and what I went through, I do not believe that a lot of people would have cared as much because society tells us that physical health should be talked about on the regular, mental health should be shut deep down so you don't look weird or different from your friends. Stigma.
I am trying, and succeeding, to change that. I want my story, your story, every person struggling with a battle they don't think they can't win, I want everyone who is scared to speak up, to help change the stereotypical labels. Because the ones who are scared, are the most powerful. I identify as a hurricane, there will be the raging storm some days, but there is always the eye of it, the calmness… Like sitting at the edge of your seat in a movie theater, breath held…waiting for the unknown.
My name is Kylie Niemi and I am living courageously with Panic Disorder;
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