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by Kennedy Campbell

I was in the 10th grade when it happened.  I was in school and I had a massive anxiety attack. But for me anxiety affects  me differently and I ended up struggling in utter silence. My name is Kennedy and I have selective mutism.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with it selective mutism is an anxiety disorder where the idea of talking feels overwhelming. It literally prevents you from being able to speak.  Its feels like you’re  choking on your words.  Many people who struggle with this illness don’t speak outside of their homes. In addition to my counselling, the Arts and being on stage helped me to find my voice. The validation from the audience reminded me that I was worthy of sharing my voice. Singing, dancing, acting, drawing, and working with clay helped me overcome my anxiety and I wanted to share that experience with others.  

In 2018 I founded Arts for Anxiety a confidence building movement that encourages people who suffer from anxiety to use the Arts to help them with their symptoms.    

I have been singing since I was four years old when my grandmother taught me my first song Summertime. When I perform my anxiety disappears. I wanted to share that knowledge with other people who struggle with anxiety. For more than a year I have been travelling throughout New England to share my story and encourage others to use the Arts to overcome their anxiety. I perform for hospitalized children and Veterans so that my music can be part of their healing from anxiety provoking situations.  I have authored two books in a four part book series that describes for children and families how the arts can be used to overcome different types of anxiety.  My first book “Singing With Samantha” which details my journey, is available on Amazon and I collect donations to make the book available to hospitalized children. I will soon be starting my book tour where I will travel throughout New England sharing my book with youth and explaining to them how anxiety can be overcome through the Arts. 

Nearly 40 million people in the united States suffer from anxiety disorders but most don’t get treatment. October is selective mutism awareness month and I will use my voice and the Arts for Anxiety movement by releasing a song and video entitled “Agony" which focuses on the loss of a loved one and how overwhelming the loss can feel to the people feel who are left behind. I am hoping that the video will encourage those who suffer from depressed and anxiety to seek help in their struggles before the loss of their spirit becomes a loss for us all. ADAA can help with counselling referrals and information.  For me it was a source of reliable resources and tips as I faced my concerns.  

My anxiety is always with me. That little girl having her panic attack in school doesn’t go away but because of her I hope to inspire those who suffer from anxiety. I am hoping to expand the Arts for Anxiety movement through both having my book tour and hospital concerts occur on a national level. My message is don’t let anxiety steal your voice. My goal is to share my story through Samantha and similar stories to empower people like us who need to be reminded that we are not alone.