Emily Rutledge, Writer

In fear of being heard, she runs to the one place that comforts her most: the 5 ½ by 2 foot closet where she’s capable of releasing her negative emotions freely. The impact of a distressing argument with her parents caused the tear-stained face she so often wears when she is alone.

For the majority of her life, sophomore Rachel Smith* has struggled with anxiety and depression. Her daily life, whether it comes down to a graded presentation or an after school band practice, is greatly affected by the bitter, antagonizing thoughts that cloud her mind.

“I started having anxiety at a young age,” Smith said. “I was forced away from my real father when I was younger, and my mother was a teenager at this time, so she had a child’s perspective. This resulted in a lot of parenting issues. Living with my stepdad has really triggered it, though.”

When dealing with anxiety and depressive emotions, Smith believes that she must face many of her problems unaided.

“It’s a really scary thing to be alone,” Smith said. “A lot of people don’t know that I am actually struggling with anxiety really bad. They assume since I’m loud and kind of extra that I just love the attention. The truth is that I’m scared of interacting with people because of judgement and just in general.”

Smith tends to be independent when battling her thoughts and feelings, but there is a companion that is constantly by her side.  

“Maysie Wallace* is so special to me because in elementary through middle school, despite my weird, scared aura, she stuck with me,” Smith said. “She saved me from a lot of bad decisions that could have shaped out the rest of my future.”

With a strong friendship and hobbies to keep her mind at ease, Smith is able to confront her negative emotions and experience the positive ones she desires.

“I enjoy playing the piano the most and would consider it my main hobby,” Smith said. “I’m passionate about music in general. Aside from the closet, this is another way I let out my stress and feelings.”

Although she understands that the difficulties she is faced with will not simply disappear, Smith strives to stay optimistic for herself and everyone around her.

“Advice I would give [to those with similar circumstances] is to not overthink things,” Smith said. “I know that I need to get used to these things in the future. Hiding behind depression won’t help me grow.”


Names have been changed*