One teens journey to helping other teens
According to a Harvard statistic, in 2019, 1 in 3 teenagers will experience chronic anxiety. So many people of all ages suffer and don’t know what they are feeling, but especially with teenagers- the constant pressures and stresses. With so many social media outlets like Snapchat, Youtube, Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, it’s no wonder why so many teens are anxiety ridden. Growing up, Megan Gallagher went through just that. From ages nine to seventeen, she experienced chronic anticipatory anxiety and panic attacks.
She remembers being in Elementary School and getting worried about going on School field trip and Sleepovers. During 4th and 5th grade, her mother, Courtney introduced journaling to her! She would document what Megan was feeling and asked her why she would say her stomach or leg hurt. The anxiety soon manifested itself through crying, having pain in her body and asking her parents if she could stay home from daily activities. Thankfully she grew up in a household where she was encouraged to have open, honest conversations about her feelings. It wasn’t until she was a Freshman in High School that she experienced her first panic attack.
It was a scary moment that shaped the next three years for her, she also grew up in a very academically competitive community that only increased her anxiety. Every day, she had up to 15 panic attacks and tried her best to lead a normal life. Towards the end of her Sophomore Year, she sat her parents down and explained how she was feeling. Soon after, she started on the journey of seeing therapists, exercising every day, establishing nighttime and morning routines as well as journaling. Her parents were a huge support system while she was doing the inner work to feel better.
During her time in High School, she noticed a lack of honest conversations amongst her peers. She wondered if anyone else felt anxious and worried too? Teenagers are faced with so many overwhelming questions on the daily. With the hormones, body changes, academic stress and social media- it’s no wonder why so many teens in 2019 are burnt out. But why don’t they talk about it? Megan pondered this for years. Not only was she overwhelmed but she also felt bombarded with ACT’s, SAT’s, College Application’s and wondering what she was going to do with her life. During her Freshman year of College, she had a health scare that changed her life and made her realize how precious her health was.
After healing, she dove headfirst into crossing items off the “bucket list” she made while sick. Now, at 23, she has turned her pain into her purpose and creates the open dialogue she constantly craved as a teen. She truly believes that when you realize that you are not alone with your struggles, there is a power in that. She is now the role model that she always wanted to be. She recently spoke at a Ted Talk Conference at Colton High School, where the title of her talk was, “Anxiety: The New Teen Epidemic”. She currently travels the Country to Speak at Middle Schools and High Schools about anxiety and her road to healing. She wants teenagers to feel confident in themselves and know that they aren’t alone with feeling anxious, overwhelmed or confused about life. In the Fall, she will be speaking at Shorecliffs Middle School( San Clemente) and Sage Hills High School(Newport Beach)!
-Her Ted Talk is on the TED youtube channel-
Anxiety: The New Teen Epidemic