Rachel Fiore

@rachel-fiore | contributor
A hardworking woman working towards my goals and trying to figure out my anxiety.
Community Voices

I’m starting a new job next week so I’ve been pushing extra hard through my anxious thoughts the last couple of days, which is exhausting.

#CheckInWithMe

9 people are talking about this
Community Voices

I’m starting a new job next week so I’ve been pushing extra hard through my anxious thoughts the last couple of days, which is exhausting.

#CheckInWithMe

9 people are talking about this
Community Voices

I’m starting a new job next week so I’ve been pushing extra hard through my anxious thoughts the last couple of days, which is exhausting.

#CheckInWithMe

9 people are talking about this
Community Voices

I’m starting a new job next week so I’ve been pushing extra hard through my anxious thoughts the last couple of days, which is exhausting.

#CheckInWithMe

9 people are talking about this
Community Voices

I’m starting a new job next week so I’ve been pushing extra hard through my anxious thoughts the last couple of days, which is exhausting.

#CheckInWithMe

9 people are talking about this
Rachel Fiore

Why High School Mental Health Education Is So Important

In high school, everyone has their worries and fears. Every teenager overthinks what to wear and what people think of them. Almost every teenager worries about college and stresses over school work while trying their best. So as a high school student, I always thought I was like every other teenager. I thought it was normal to swallow back the puke every morning on the school bus as I was worried about getting to my locker on time. I thought it was normal to worry so much at 15 years old that my hair started to fall out. I thought it was normal to think my friends would just up and leave me one day. I thought it was normal to worry so much about college I would cry almost every day and spend my time leaning over the toilet, throwing up. As I continued to college, I thought the worries of being a teenager would go away, but I was quick to realize that was not the case. My worries and fears stayed and new symptoms popped up. I found myself secluded in my dorm room in fear of socializing with new people. I experienced my first panic attack and found myself waking up not being able to breathe far too often. I was in a foreign land and was homesick. I had many sleepless nights. I thought everyone I met was talking badly about me. I was stuck in my own thoughts which would not go away. Colleges seem to be more concerned about students’ mental health than high school is. You see signs displaying the counseling available and other resources of people to talk to in the dorm hallways. I started to question if my worries were something I needed to worry about. I took some psychology classes where mental health was finally introduced. I did some researching myself and found I had many signs of anxiety. It started to make some sense. After two years away at school, I quickly found out I could not do it any longer. I found myself in a small room by myself, unable to breathe, with the feeling the walls were closing in. I called my mom crying, said I could no longer do it anymore and I came home. I was lucky to be able to transfer to another school and commute from home. I spent the next couple of years finding ways to relax as much as I could, finding ways to distract my mind to the best of my ability. Finally, at a doctor’s appointment, I had to fill out a worksheet. This worksheet had a list of symptoms and it asked if I ever experienced some of these symptoms and how often they occurred. One after another, I viewed these symptoms as a part of my daily life. My doctor reviewed the worksheet and for the first time, someone external from my personal life mentioned to me about seeing a counselor. Even after thinking I had anxiety for so long, this referral made it so much more real. High school health class teaches students about safe sex, the dangers of drunk driving and drugs. But why is mental health never a focus in high school health classes? If health classes taught about mental health, I would have realized it was not OK to swallow back the puke every day. I would have realized it was not “normal” to have my hair falling out at such a young age or to believe that one day my friends would decide to hate me. I would have realized it was not OK that the thought of college would make me physically ill. I lacked in self-confidence in high school and I believe if I had this education then, my confidence would have been greater. I would have realized what I was experiencing and feeling was something I should be concerned with, and not every teenager felt this way every day. I would have been able to get some help. I have been out of high school for five years now, so I am not sure how high school health classes are or if they have changed. I hope they now offer mental health education because mental health is just as important as understanding the signs of the flu. Mental health education could help students understand themselves and their loved ones. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Thinkstock photo via Wavebreakmedia Ltd

Rachel Fiore

What 'I Don't Feel Good' Means as Someone With Anxiety

I stare at nothing, zoning out and forgetting about my surroundings. I bite the inside of my mouth without realizing. I hold my stomach in pain out of habit. I only get out of my trance when the people closest to me ask if I am OK. Each time I respond with “I don’t feel good” or “Yeah, I am just not feeling well today.” These statements are very true but the closest people to me have no idea what “I don’t feel good” really means. I stare into space trying to forget about the anxious thoughts in my head. I may be worrying about a homework assignment or I could be worrying about something that happened five years ago. Most of the time, I have a tornado of thoughts swirling through my head, a mixture of daily worries, self-doubt and fear of failure. My heart races and pounds in my chest as I can’t sort out one thought from another. I bite the inside of my mouth as a nervous tic, thinking about the to-do list I could be working on. My stomach is in knots as I think about the large crowd I have to be in tomorrow or the presentation or test that lies ahead. I’m holding my stomach to try and control the nauseous feeling as my anxiety becomes worse. My thoughts start to sort out and I start to think of myself as a failure. My head is telling me how I am never going anywhere in life, how I will never find a job after graduation and how I will never be as successful as I want to be. My thoughts continue as they tell me how secretly nobody likes me, how everyone talks about me behind my back. I start to question if I have done something wrong, maybe I screwed up and I am no longer loved. I start to feel alone and hated. I can’t stop these thoughts and they become too much. My heart races more and my breathing quickens until I feel like I can’t breathe at all. The room feels like a big black hole and I am slowly getting sucked into it, being pulled apart until I can’t feel my body anymore. My boyfriend grabs onto my face and looks in my eyes and keeps saying my name until my breathing finally slows down. I can feel my body again, I can see my surroundings. I am tears and lucky to have someone to hold me. “I don’t feel good” does mean what it sounds like, but it also means so much more. If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page. If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741 . We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Thinkstock photo via kotoffei.

Rachel Fiore

Anxiety Makes It Hard to Know if I Want to Be Alone or With Others

Sometimes I struggle to make sense of the love of being alone but also the fear of being alone. To an introvert, being alone can be a favorite pastime and to an extrovert, they can often want nothing more than to be around people. But what if I don’t fit in these categories? What if I don’t want to label myself because neither of these titles make any sense to who I am? With anxiety, it is impossible to guess how I am going to feel each day. Do I want to be alone or do I need the distraction of the people I care about? After a long day, there is nothing more I want then to sit alone and process my day. The last thing I can imagine is socializing with friends or having to go out in public. My day was exhausting and my thoughts drained all my energy. All I want to do is sleep and prepare myself for the next day. I cannot even imagine holding a conversation and I seem reserved and standoffish. A week later, I can feel the exact same way but the last thing I can imagine is being alone. My thoughts become too strong to push away by myself. I have to put the television on and put the volume up to drown out the thoughts I can no longer control. I get up and start to pace the floor trying to find something to do or even start cleaning to distract myself. I start texting my boyfriend and friends to think of something else while I try to push away the nauseous feeling creeping up my throat. I start doing homework that might not be due for another two weeks just so I can keep myself busy. I start making lists of anything I can think of or start organizing my room to keep myself calm. I count down the minutes until my boyfriend is out of work just so I can have someone next to me, someone I can have a conversation with. I wish I was able to know which way I was going to feel each day. Whether I should plan to meet up with friends or know not to make any plans altogether. I know it is hard for many people to understand how I can seem like an introvert one day and an extrovert the next day, but I have learned I need to adjust my surroundings with the way I am feeling each day. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Thinkstock photo via kotoffei.

Rachel Fiore

A Letter to the Love of My Life From Your Partner With Anxiety

Love of my life, I envy your ability to socialize. I am jealous of how you can walk into a crowded room and immediately make a friend. I’m jealous of how you are able to walk up to a random person and start a conversation. Or how you can walk up and confidently shake a stranger’s hand. I am amazed by the countless amount of friends you have and how you know someone everywhere we go. You are like a social magnet, someone who everyone likes on their first meeting. I wish I had your ability to work nine hours a day and still want to go out at the end of it and get a drink or two. Or your ability not to need any time to relax or reflect on your day. I am jealous of how you can run on so little sleep and still function throughout your day. I wish I could act like a “normal” young adult like you do, but I can’t. I wish you understood the pit in my stomach every time I go out with you. I wish you would understand why I am quiet when we are around your friends. It’s not because I don’t like them, it’s just my fear of being judged for saying something wrong. I wish you understood why I broke down when you told me I might have to walk into a wedding by myself. I wish you understood why the smallest thing can spike a panic attack or why one minute I’m smiling and the next I’m fidgeting and biting my nails. I wish you wouldn’t ask me why I woke up anxious, because I don’t know the answer to this question. I wish you understood there is no reason why I woke up with my heart racing and the empty nauseous feeling in my stomach. I wish you realized the smallest comment can cause a panic attack after a hard week of holding my anxiety in. I wish I enjoyed going out, making new friends and staying out late, but I don’t. I wish you wouldn’t tell me to “just close your eyes” when I can’t fall asleep. I wish you understood that one-on-one conversations with strangers horrify me. I wish you could understand these things but I know you try your best. I don’t know why I sit at my own family events nervous about where I am. I wish I knew why I can’t eat much at a restaurant or eat in front of your family. Or how the simplest days can make me exhausted. I wish I didn’t think every person we meet is secretly judging me, when I know they actually aren’t. I wish I knew why I can’t eat before we go anywhere. I wish I could give you the answers to these questions. It’s hard for me to keep up with the few friends I have and I know you secretly think I need more friends. But I am happier this way with the few friends I call my second family. I know it seems like I’m overreacting over my nervousness of presenting a project when it haunts me for days. I know you get annoyed when I tell you I passed with flying colors when you say, “You worry too much.” I know it seems crazy when I worry about a new job for a week straight, but it is just the way I am. I know it is hard for you to understand. I know you tell me every day there isn’t anything wrong with me. You tell me I’m not crazy, but there are days I don’t believe that. I hope you don’t find me clingy. I hope it isn’t too much when I miss you the second I leave your side. I hope you don’t find it annoying when I can’t go places without you. I hope it doesn’t seem crazy when I cry after being apart for only one day. But I have never had someone like you before, someone who can make me feel so safe. I know life won’t be easy together. I know my life will always involve overthinking and stressing over the little things. I know when I graduate college and start working full-time, it won’t be an easy process. I realize many achievements in our lives will be scary for me, but I am thankful I will have you by my side. I am sorry for the nights I do not speak. I know you think I am mad at you when I’m not talking to you. But I promise I am not mad at you. It is my way of processing my day. I am sorry for the times I randomly start crying while watching television. I tell you I’m overthinking but you always blame yourself. It is never your fault, just my anxiety. I hope I do not cause you worry. I know how much you care about me, but I don’t always want to be a concern on your mind. I hope you never find me to be a burden, I know I can be a lot to handle. You tell me to stop worrying about your problems, but this is not possible. Your problems are my problems. Thank you for being my shoulder to cry on. Thank you for holding me through my panic attacks. I know it scares you when I’m lying helpless, unable to breathe. Thank you for missing out on things for me because I know it bothers you. Thank you for trying your best to understand me. Thank you for trying to help me, instead of trying to change me. Thank you for pushing me forward because you know my full potential. Thank you for realizing how hard I work. Thank you for being the one person I’m truly comfortable with. I know I can always act like myself around you. Thank you for always believing in me. Thank you for being my best friend and most importantly thank you for loving me for who I am. Sincerely, The love of your life with anxiety We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Image via Thinkstock