Abbie Seale has always appreciated knowing the why behind everything. “I love science because it explains a lot about what we see around us. I love analyzing poetry and classic literature for the same reason. It is so satisfying to understand the way things work and what they mean,” she says. This logical sensibility is why, when Abbie developed anxiety in middle school, she felt so frustrated. “For two nights, I stayed up all night, staring at my wall, trying to figure it out,” she says. “I couldn’t make my brain believe that there was no threat to me.” She had been feeling so scared and overwhelmed that she’d started making up excuses to miss school, telling her mom her allergies were bothering her or that her stomach hurt.
Everyone experiences anxiety from time to time—a sense of uneasiness or worry about what might happen. A little bit can actually help us perform at our best in pivotal moments, like big tests or piano recitals. But anxiety disorders are mental health conditions in which these feelings occur too often, are too strong, or are out of proportion to the situation.