Freaking Out: Real-life Stories About Anxiety

Overview

When anxiety has you in its grip, it can seem impossible to rationalize your way out of it.

That sweaty, gut-clenching, suffocating, racing-heart feeling. That dull, never-ending sense that something's wrong. Anxiety affects millions of young adults. From phobias to compulsiveness to post traumatic stress disorder, Freaking Out chronicles the many guises of excessive anxiety in teens' lives and the havoc it can wreak.

These 13 true stories span...

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Overview

When anxiety has you in its grip, it can seem impossible to rationalize your way out of it.

That sweaty, gut-clenching, suffocating, racing-heart feeling. That dull, never-ending sense that something's wrong. Anxiety affects millions of young adults. From phobias to compulsiveness to post traumatic stress disorder, Freaking Out chronicles the many guises of excessive anxiety in teens' lives and the havoc it can wreak.

These 13 true stories span the anxiety spectrum, from heightened adolescent angst to full-blown disorders. The triggers for the teens in this book range from the stress of getting into college, to the loss of a parent, to day-to-day social encounters. Their stories explore the different ways each learned to unshackle themselves from the weight of overwhelming worry.

In "Nowhere to Hide," Caroline suffers debilitating panic attacks brought on in part by extreme shyness. In "Exiled," Alana's treatment at the hand of bullies makes her anxiety even worse. In "The Enemy Next Door" Noah grapples with the paralyzing, unexplained fear of dogs that has caused him anxiety since childhood. And in "War Story," Hamid, alone in a new country, must confront his post traumatic stress disorder.

Including an afterword written by psychologist Stacie Isenberg of The Ross Center in Washington, D.C., Freaking Out offers young people a vivid understanding of what anxiety feels like, positive tools to minimize its effects, and the reassurance that they can live a full and rewarding life even if they find themselves in its grip.

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
12/01/2013
Gr 7–10—In an introductory chapter, Wells describes the symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks and differentiates between fear and anxiety. She discusses the ways in which low levels of anxiety are a useful survival tactic. For example, if we worry about being hit by a car, we will remember to look before crossing the street. She also discusses why anxiety may plague teens, mentioning the combination of surging hormones, social changes at school as love enters into the mix of relationships, struggles with parents for more autonomy, and possible hereditary factors. The rest of the book consists of firsthand accounts from young people who struggled with anxiety and with obsessive compulsive disorder. They all discuss their history, identifying the causes of their problems and explaining the tools they used to cope with and overcome their anxiety. Seeking the help of a mentor, counselor, or therapist is recommended. Coping skills discussed include identifying triggers, changing thinking patterns, and learning relaxation techniques, and, in one case, the prescription of antidepressants provides the solution. Wells doesn't delve deeply into the full range of anxiety and panic disorders or offer a medical understanding. Teens suffering more extensively will need other resources but may be comforted by the stories of success offered here. An extensive list of resources is provided, including fiction and nonfiction books, websites and hotlines, and resources for parents. Line illustrations are unfortunately unappealing.—Nancy Silverrod, San Francisco Public Library
Booklist - John Peters
Written in first person but actually recast from single or composite interviews with teens or young adults, 13 narratives describe in detail a range of common circumstances and experiences that spark sharp panic attacks or longer-term disturbances--from fear of doing poorly on a test or being attacked by a dog to emotional fallout from being bullied or socially ostracized, losing a parent, escaping a war zone, being gay, or just becoming an adolescent. All of the interviewees have either cured themselves or at least begun to get past their afflictions. An afterword by a clinical psychologist summarizes anxiety's causes and explains what mental health professionals can do to help. The closing lists of print and web resources, organizations, and hotlines are generously sized. Along with the physical signs and effects of anxiety, and a number of potential coping strategies, readers will come away with clearer notions of anxiety's universality and, as the author puts it, when it's time to worry about being worried.
The Banner - Kristy Quist
While the book is not written from a Christian perspective, as a youth leader and a parent of teens, I found it very helpful.
Voice of Youth Advocates
What makes this book stand out is that the teens discuss the moment they realized they had a problem that other teens suffered from and they no longer felt quite so isolated. This is a powerful message for the reader who will identify with the content of this book... This is a highly recommended title for middle school and up as a resource for students that suffer from anxiety issues.
Resource Links - Michael Rogowsi
Comprised of 13 true stories by young adults on dealing with anxiety, Freaking Out is an excellent resource for anyone suffering from anxiety.
ABQLA Bulletin - Ethel Gamache
The stories effectively portray how everyone's experience with anxiety is different, and how the recovery takes a different path for each person.
VOYA - Valerie Burleigh
Anxiety in adolescents is rarely addressed in a nonfiction format that appeals to teens who would benefit from bibliotherapy. Wells, Mitchell, and Annick Press have created a visually appealing book with individual short stories that will speak to teens suffering from their own issues. The stories in the book are derived from interviews with teens suffering from some sort of anxiety disorder; in many cases, more than one. What makes this book stand out is that the teens discuss the moment they realized they had a problem that other teens suffered from and they no longer felt quite so isolated. This is a powerful message for the reader who will identify with the content of this book. While the preface of the book states that it is not intended to replace actual professional treatment, the stories offer hope to teens who will seek out some sort of treatment. The treatments vary for each teen, and while some may overlap, the hope and inspiration that things will get better stands out by the end of each story. This is a highly recommended title for middle school and up as a resource for students that suffer from anxiety issues. Reviewer: Valerie Burleigh
Kirkus Reviews
2013-09-15
Thirteen young adults relate their struggles with anxiety. The tales, each occupying a chapter, feature varied causes for the anxiety: Obsessive-compulsive disorder, bullying, grief, drug abuse, a phobia, a learning disorder, chronic illness and developing awareness of homosexuality are all given attention. An opening caveat informs readers that the stories "derive from interviews with young people" and "some elements drawn from different sources have been combined to present hybrid stories." Perhaps due to this technique, the flavor of the stories varies little. All of the voices are remarkably similar and lack the gritty authenticity that the voices of the teens themselves could have provided. The paralyzing anxiety they experienced is unfortunately dampened by the brief, matter-of-fact style of the narrative. "The mean girls knew how to find me. It was beyond scary." A common, positive theme is that the teens found effective ways to manage their anxiety. The stories provide descriptions of coping tools but not in enough detail to substitute for needed professional help. An afterword offers comfort and advice, as well as a lengthy list of useful resources. Seeming more like a volume therapists might assign their patients to read than one teenagers would pick up on their own, this effort may still provide some assistance to those struggling with anxiety. (Nonfiction. 11-18)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781554515448
  • Publisher: Annick Press, Limited
  • Publication date: 7/23/2013
  • Pages: 136
  • Sales rank: 379,680
  • Age range: 12 - 18 Years
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Polly Wells is a writer and video producer. She produced the documentary film The Age of Anxiety. She lives in Toronto with her husband and two teenage children.

Peter Mitchell is an award-winning illustrator whose work can be found in the LA Times and The Globe and Mail. He is also the illustrator of i.d.: Stuff that Happens to Define Us. Peter lives in Toronto with his family. Visit his website at www.petermitchell.net.

Stacie Isenberg, PsyD, is the Child and Adolescent Program Director at The Ross Center in Washington, DC, an institution renown for providing evidence-based treatment for mood and anxiety disorders, specifically cognitive and behavioral therapies.

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