My Happy Place
By Keira Kelly, age 17, Missouri.
The all-consuming monster that is anxiety has ruled over my mind for my entire life. Growing up “shy” is cute, but staying a quiet, on-edge shell of a person loses its charm with age.
“Just take deep breaths, count to ten,” my mother would say.
“Calm down, it’s nothing to get worked up about,” my father would say.
“You can’t avoid everything that makes you a little anxious, Keira,” my teachers would say.
Nothing they said worked; anxiety comes as naturally to me as breathing, and no amount of deep breaths or mental perseverance could calm the storm once it decided to hit; those who say otherwise have never experienced such a dreadful feeling.
I started therapy in my freshman year of high school, due to my parents growing worried when I was getting too old for the “cute, shy little girl” routine. Dr. McBride was the first to understand that my anxiety was a real disorder, not just a little emotion I had to overcome. I was prescribed medicine, and she gave me a place to talk about my issues. She understood me, more than anyone else. She listened to what I had to say and validated my emotions, and understood.
Then, she offered a coping mechanism that worked for me.
“Find your happy place.”
What a cliché. Just like the deep breaths and counting to ten, I assumed this to be another useless measure that others thought helped with anxiety, yet held no merit. The extent of my anxiety tended to cause depressive episodes, so, originally, my “happy place” was only my bed, where I could curl away and hide from the real world. Warm, cozy blankets surrounding me seemed like absolute bliss, when, realistically, they sprung me deeper and deeper down a lonely spiral.
“No, Keira, find the place. The place where worry does not exist, where it is impossible to feel unsafe or insecure. That’s your happy place.”
It took some time to think it over, but I soon came to the revelation that I was capable of being happy outside of my bed; in fact, I could be even happier.
Ever since then, whenever I’ve gotten too stressed or worried or sickly anxious to cope with my everyday responsibilities, I take a moment to imagine myself in a field full of wildflowers, with birds chirping quiet songs in my ears, sunshine warming my skin, fresh flowers surrounding me. Around the field would always be a forest, which granted me a sense of safety, symbolizing that the unknown could surround me all it wanted, but I still had my beautiful space, one that belonged to me, and to me only.
The fictional safe haven I created in my imagination is represented by this image, which resonates deeply with me, granting an inherent sense of calm. I can imagine myself walking down the paved path, allowing my senses to absorb the beauty surrounding me, and the terrible monster inside of me dwindles.
One day, I’d like to visit my happy place. I have yet to find it in the real world, so, in the meantime, I can continue to travel there in my mind, living amongst nature and forgetting the horrors of reality.
—Keira Kelly, age 17, Missouri. She adds: “My goal… is to become a published author, hopefully one day, of a fiction novel. What I enjoy most about writing is the artistic creativity available in carefully choosing and stringing together words to create a beautiful piece. I’ve adored writing ever since I was little, and I am ecstatic to explore how far I can reach with this passion. I wish to continue Creative Writing programs in college, and depending on my success rate, pursue a career as a full-time author. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to begin my journey.”