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  • Writer's pictureBekki Semenova

Standing Up for People Like Us

My name is Bekki Semenova and I am 17 years old. I am a proud mental health and autism advocate, and I have struggled with severe anxiety, panic disorder, and severe depression for a long time now. I wanted to address a very important topic that unfortunately isn’t talked about much.

I strongly believe that people who struggle with anxiety need to feel supported by their school / workplace when they feel they can’t complete a task, can’t attend for several days, or if they just have trouble existing in this specific environment. I have found myself many times in circumstances that I shouldn’t have, where my school refused to help me and refused to believe how much I suffered due to their ignorance. My goal is for schools and other education facilities to finally validate and accommodate for their students who struggle with severe anxiety, instead of telling us to “push through it” or “face our fears.” If we cannot function in the regular school system, I ask you, not to push us, but instead try to talk to us and find out what is bothering us in this specific environment. Sometimes, we might not know what is bothering us or making us anxious, but talking to us helps a lot, no matter how much time it takes. Getting the opportunity to talk to us and listening to our needs and our side of the story can really make us feel like we have value, and therefore help us to make our anxiety a little bit easier to handle.

I believe that the entire talk about facing your fears, doing things despite feeling anxious, might work for some, but not for all people with anxiety disorders. I want professionals, teachers, and the public in general to realize that anxiety is a serious mental illness and needs acceptance and understanding, instead of having expectations to “get better” or attend work and school like everyone else.

I have come to say that everyone around the world who struggles with anxiety can agree that having people to support us in these vulnerable times when we are struggling is really important. If teachers, staff, employers, and others, understood us, listened to us, and looked for a way to adequately support us, and not change us, our world would feel and be so much better.

If you want to connect, have any questions or comments, or simply want to share your experiences with me, you are more than welcome to email me at Looking forward to connecting with you all!

Bekki Semenova

Vaughan, Canada


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