Where MindShift Found Itself
Mountain View, CA | December 5, 2017 This is a draft of an upcoming article, presented by MindShift Editor in Chief Casey Hardwick at a Perspectives Q&A sponsored by Yelp in the Get Well Program:
“Seeking Help with Anxiety”
by Casey Hardwick (Web services editor/founder)
When Mckenzie Thompson was admitted to Millenium Middle School in Bakersfield, California this past spring, she was concerned about learning and dealing with English. As a seventh grader, she felt overwhelmed. Perhaps because she was a first generation college graduate, she didn’t know any other language besides English. But she came to school every day. She was sad if she left the class, and she was depressed if she stayed. She asked for support from a school counselor, but he wasn’t prepared to talk with her and she couldn’t get that support from a teacher because the teacher wasn’t sure she’d be able to do her best work.
All she could think about was school, so she missed one class and two papers, and told her principal that she didn’t feel confident enough to learn. Her parents and adult friends told her not to worry. To be a good student, you have to put in the hard work. The rest will come. But Mckenzie felt terrible. She asked her friends to come pick her up so she could go home and cry.
She was stressed because she was a diligent student with good grades and she had recently arrived at a school where English was a new language, and she felt overwhelmed because she could not relate to what she was learning.
Mckenzie turned to Pinterest for help, looking for ways to cope with the anxiety. She found an article written by an English teacher and finally found an understanding voice. After reading the article, she called the English teacher and talked with him about his situation. The teacher offered Mckenzie some practical suggestions on how to help herself cope and said he felt confident that she would do a better job.
After Mckenzie saw this article, she decided to see another English teacher, Eddie, who also had difficulty processing English. After some discussion, Mckenzie realized Eddie was in the same situation, and she worried about what would happen if they were in a classroom together. She asked for Eddie’s help so they could develop some communication skills together. That problem was solved.
Eddie ended up being a key part of Mckenzie’s achievement and coping skills. Mckenzie was not confident about taking tests or reading at home. She called Eddie and said she needed more help, and he helped her to do something that was fun.
When she told him about her anxiety, Eddie reassured her. They spoke for a while and he reassured her again that she would succeed. He told her that he had trouble functioning as well as she did, and that any anxiety or stress would allow him to become more supportive of her.
Later, Mckenzie told him that she had to think about being a good student. If she failed at school, she wouldn’t meet her own goals, so how could she pursue higher education? Eddie reassured her that those goals would not be jeopardized by her anxiety and told her that he wanted to know the new Mckenzie.
As a result of talking with Eddie and in collaboration with Mckenzie’s parents, Eddie worked with Mckenzie on her reading and writing skills. They made sure she knew her course material and that she could write well.
Together, they read, reread, and rewrote an article by a psychologist. Eddie reminded Mckenzie that if she was an ordinary student she wouldn’t be performing well enough to go to college, but she was a good student. As a result, she took more pride in the way she performed in school and performed better in assignments.
Even with good advice and advice from the English teacher, who took the time to listen to Mckenzie and told her what to do, she still felt anxious and alienated from her peers and the English teacher. She felt alone and isolated. Her parents told her not to worry, but Mckenzie felt like she had no one else to turn to, so she spent a lot of time by herself.
Mckenzie is no longer feeling anxiety, and she has achieved high scores in the state’s assessments in English, Math, Science, and Social Studies. She is no longer suffering from anxiety.