My name is Simon Bank. I am 12 years old and I am from Los Angeles, California. I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder with Obsessive Thoughts and I am not ashamed of it. I was first diagnosed when I was 7 years old. At that time, I did not know why I was going to a therapist, or even what a therapist was. When I think back, anxiety has been a part of my life ever since I can remember.
My anxiety shows up in different ways and seems to go in phases. In 3rd grade, I was extremely anxious about one thing in particular, not getting picked up from places or being forgotten places. This thought made me feel horrible and sometimes I even made myself sick thinking about it. I talked with my therapist about this and she told me to ask myself questions about the odds of this actually happening and this helped me manage.
Flash-forward to 4th grade and my new major worry had to do with grades. I was worried that if the teacher did not know that I knew the answer that would lead to me getting a bad grade, which would to me failing, and then becoming homeless, and then eventually dying. To combat this, I raised my hand at every opportunity. My teacher did not like this and she limited the number of times I could raise my hand. This was really hard and it made me even more anxious. I talked with my therapist and we decided that if I raised my hand a certain amount of times she would know that I knew the answer even if I did not raise my hand every time.
In fifth grade my new worry started and has lasted ever since. That worry was that I would not get enough sleep. This led to me fixating on not getting enough sleep which in turn made me lose sleep. I used the same strategy as third grade and it was only semi-successful. The things that really helped me were using melatonin and meditation which made me sleep better and made me worry less about sleeping. I still worry about sleeping to this day though.
These are all my major worries over the past years, but even though I was extremely anxious I still was successful in school and out of school. One thing that really helped me get through my anxiety was soccer. Soccer is my passion and my coping strategy. Being a goalkeeper I get hit with the ball a lot. For most people this would not be something that would make them feel better, but for me the feeling of being hit with the ball releases all the anxiety and tension from my body. Soccer is also a coping strategy for me because whenever I am playing soccer I get locked in and all of my anxiety and anything else that is not soccer related washes away and I only think about soccer. I know I am not alone. Many professional players, such as former US Men’s National Team goalkeeper Tim Howard, have struggled with anxiety, OCD and other mental health challenges before me.
I am Jewish which means I am having a Bar Mitzvah this summer. For this Bar Mitzvah I had to create a Mitzvah Project which is essentially a good deed project. I decided that I wanted to raise awareness for anxiety and that I wanted to help people that also have anxiety. I wanted to do this for two reasons. One, I wanted the public to know that anxiety is something that lots of people struggle with. Two, I wanted people to have a place to learn different methods to help them cope with their anxiety.
To achieve these things I created an Instagram Page (@beat_anxiety_) and a website. On these two pages I give coping methods, meditations and many other things to help people cope with anxiety. I also have a feature on my website where you can donate directly to ADAA. I chose to work with ADAA because I believe that their mission meets my mission to help people BEAT ANXIETY. I also chose ADAA because they are an organization that is not just talk and actually do what they talk about. If you need help they will help you find help. To help people like me get through anxiety please donate to my cause and to ADAA.