Anxiety, mental illness often misunderstood

Published 9:28 am Thursday, April 30, 2015

A few weeks ago, my anxiety reached what I feel was the worst it has ever been. Everything became worrisome to me. I would get stressed out over the smallest things. My heart would begin to race. It felt hard to breathe. My body would ache all over. All I wanted to do was sleep, and I had no appetite at all.

Up until a few weeks ago, I considered my anxiety to be pretty mild. This time I found myself in Urgent Care because I knew I needed professional help. I had called in sick to work for that day because I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle an entire day.

The next time I returned to work, I learned that people were saying that I wasn’t actually sick and just called in because I didn’t want to work. My blood began to boil in anger when I heard this. Anxiety is a mental illness. Sometimes it is paralyzing and does in fact keep you from being able to do day-to-day things. People probably would have thought I was crazy if I was at work for an eight-hour shift while having anxiety attacks. Just because someone may not seem sick doesn’t mean that they aren’t.

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I hope that one day mental illness can be spoken about more than it is currently. I feel like it is embarrassing to tell someone I can’t come to work because I am having an anxiety attack. People understand what it’s like to have the stomach flu or a bad cold. Unless you’ve experienced anxiety, you have no idea whatsoever how bad it can be.

I would love to see a world where no one has to be worried about their mental illness and can be open with people about it. Unfortunately, we live in a world full of misunderstanding and judgement. All I can do is hope for change.


Albert Lea High School graduate Erin Murtaugh is a first-year student at Rochester Community and Technical College. She can be reached at