Chapter Eight
— an essay by Maurizio Turco

You walk to class and feel your head already spinning, as well as stomach beginning to turn. You know you have no control over this, but you have to try and shake it off; you have to think of something else to divert your mind from these annoying, constant thoughts. 

Things aren’t so bad.
It’s just class. Another, ordinary class.
Everything’s going to be fine. 
Fuck! This isn’t working.

You enter the room and sit near the back, hoping to God that you'll not be called on today. You take out some paper and a pen and jot down: Chapter 8 Anxiety Disorders; You realize it’s the day you learn about yourself. The turning in your stomach grows tighter, but you remain seated because you worry that you will miss something important.

Your professor begins to teach, while you begin to take notes. He says that the information presented is important when studying Abnormal Psychology; he then adds many college students are diagnosed with this treatable illness. He delves into Generalized Anxiety Disorder and lays out facts of which he pulls from the DSM-IV:   

“Now class, persons who suffer from G.A.D. struggle from excessive episodes of worry and anxiety. For instance, they have difficulty coping with their worry, and worrying about their worries causes them great amounts of stress,” he says as your palms become drenched with sweat and you find it hard to breathe.   

He continues,  “For people to be officially diagnosed with G.A.D., these episodes must last on and off for at least six months. It’s more common in young adults, since they are constantly faced with stressful situation in the workplace, as well as in their education.” 

You look down at what you've written so far and feel uneasy. You only wish that the first six months would have been the end. 

Is there something wrong with me?
Am I abnormal?

Your hand rises without intention and when called upon, you ask what happens if these episodes last years. Your professor says that most people in those cases seek out treatment and are put on anti-anxiety medication. After he asks if anyone has any more questions he continues on with the lecture:   “People are diagnosed with having G.A.D if their worry and anxiety includes at least three of the following symptoms:   
- easily fatigued                   
 - irritability                 
 - feeling on edge       
 - difficulty concentrating
 - muscle tension                   
 - sleep disturbance.”


  You haven't slept well for two weeks, and you're currently going on thirty hours without sleep. You can't sit any longer as your stomach has turned its final time. You walk out in the middle of class and head back to your dorm. 

Why Now?!
This happens in the worst times.
Almost there…

Fighting the urge not to, you vomit anyway. You crawl into bed and helplessly shake. These compulsions continue for over an hour and you want to disappear. You ask yourself why this happens and why it has to be you.    You recall what your professor said in class:

“The anxiety, worry, or physical symptoms can cause extreme distress especially in work, social situations and other important areas of daily functioning.”

After these thoughts race through your head you remember what was said when class began. You recall that this is treatable and "many college students" have this illness. You begin to realize you're not alone and you can beat this. For the first time in years you have hope. For the first time in months, you feel determined. For the first time in weeks, you feel stronger. For the first time in days, you fall asleep.

The Essayist: Maurizio Turco is a senior at Emmanuel College in Boston, MA. He is an English Writing and Literature major. He is anxiety ridden and has been for a few years now. He writes mostly pieces about relationships, his father, and more recently: anxiety. He is a runner who competes in road and track races. He is also a musician and frequently incorporates music into his writing.

The Photographer:  Eleanor Leonne Bennett is a 16 year old internationally award winning photographer and artist who has won first places with National Geographic, The World Photography Organisation, Nature's Best Photography, Papworth Trust, Mencap, The Woodland trust and Postal Heritage. Her photography has been published in the Telegraph , The Guardian, BBC News Website and on the cover of books and magazines in the United states and Canada. Her art is globally exhibited