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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at TAMU chapter.

Growing up in the small town that was Laredo Texas, it was extremely hard to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and be vocal about it. Specifically in this small town, everyone liked to pretend everything was always perfect. It is almost like everyone knew people were pretending to be something that they weren’t, but never really said anything about it. Word traveled fast and gossip traveled even faster.

According to the UT Health Houston Harris County Psychiatric Center, “panic disorder, one in the family of anxiety disorders, is different from normal anxiety. While other anxiety disorders cause ongoing feelings of fear of impending doom, panic disorder is marked by very sudden unexpected attacks of intense terror.”

In my early years of elementary, I would call my mom from school almost every day. I would go to the nurse’s office and sometimes even hide in the bathroom until the school day came to an end. The only way I could describe this feeling was that I felt “weird”. It was almost like I could see myself from a different point of view. It truly is an out of body experience. The feeling was almost too strange to explain. I really had no idea what those feelings were, so it felt even harder to try to explain it to someone else.

When I was 9 years old, I was diagnosed with panic disorder. Being from a small town this was not an easy thing to come to terms with. I was worried about being labeled the “weird” or “crazy” kid. In this small town, it was also very tricky to see an actual therapist.  Already living there felt like everybody knew every ounce of your business so seeing a therapist in town just felt like a recipe for disaster. Therapy was so stigmatized in this town that my parents drove me 150 miles north to San Antonio every Friday of the week just to meet with my psychiatrist. Kids in my class would question why I was absent so much but I just made-up excuses or said I was not feeling well. (I also managed to rack up the most absences in my entire lifetime at this point). I remember finding myself feeling extremely guilty in middle school when my friends would have to leave parties with me because I would have extreme panic attacks.

I am so thankful to my mother everyday because she was proactive in the way of helping me get help. She searched high and low for the best psychiatrist at no cost.  She asked her friends around town and my Godfather and Godmother referred me to one in San Antonio. My therapist was not even seeing patients as young as my age at that point but did see me as a favor to my Godfather who passed away thereafter. (Love you so much Gerry! This one’s for you!)

I have been told many times that “it’s just a phase”, or that “I’m just too tired”, and endless excuses. When the reality is that I just have mental health issues, and that is a stone-cold hard fact. That is something that I have found peace and acceptance in the fact that it is okay to have mental health issues. It does not make you less of something, it only makes you more human. Diminishing someone’s mental health is not cool just because you don’t understand it.

I also thank my psychiatrist every day for saving my life. One of the big methods she used that helped me to understand how to cope with anxiety was to “tell the panic attack to go away”. As a child, this was an easy way for me to understand. Even today, this helps me at times when I have panic attacks. One thing about panic disorder is that it never goes away. You can be hanging out with your friends at game night on a perfect little Saturday and it can hit you like a train. It seriously does knock the air out of you, but knowing how to cope with it and years of training helps you know how to navigate these kind of situations.

Seeing a psychiatrist has helped me tremendously. I am a different person than I was before I started going to therapy. I have learned how to deal with my anxiety in such profound ways. I have done so many things that ten year old me wouldn’t even have thought possible. I cannot thank my family and doctors enough for being people and places to find comfort in. Therapy has been such a lifeline to me, and I know that the more knowledgeable people become about mental health, the better this world will be.

It wasn’t until college that I really became vocal about my mental health struggles. In high school, it wasn’t something I wanted other people to know about me or that I wanted to go out of my way to talk about. I still sometimes find myself telling my friends about “my little wink” I do which indicates me having a panic attack right before going into a big event.

Over the last 12 years in therapy, I have really gotten a grasp on how to handle my anxiety. Coming to college, I have learned that 4/5 people have mental health issues and that mental health is not something that you should be ashamed of. Talking about your mental health to someone can seriously change their life. I have made it my life’s mission to speak on my mental health issues to help educate others and to even possibly save someone’s life.  

In case no one has told you today:

You are worth having in this life, you are kind, and SO many people love you.

If you are struggling with mental health issues, please call the helpline phone number:


This article is dedicated to Gerry Salinas. You would be so proud of all your loved ones accomplishments.

Howdy! my name is Anali Ramirez and I am a junior psychology major at Texas a&m university. I grew up in Laredo Texas, but moved to New Braunfels during 2020. Some of my goals In life are to spread mental health awareness specifically in college. I feel that this is so important because everyone could be more knowledgeable about the great effects of properly caring for your mental health . I also hope to write a book when I am older and I hope to move to Washington DC in the future. Some of my hobbies are writing, running, taking pictures, going to Starbucks and sonic, and currently I am on the hunt to see who has the best kolache in college station! I love spending time with my family, I'm a huge history buff, and I love shopping! I also babysit 3-4 times a week and I love working with little kids. I feel that this will help me in my goal of becoming a child psychiatrist in the future. Some other fun facts about me are that I am a huge talker! I love to talk, I am not afraid of public speaking and could quite literally strike up a conversation with the wall! I also love learning new things because I truly believe that knowledge ie power!