High Anxiety

Steven Wilson
4 min readMar 8, 2021


What’s left to say about the Pandemic?

Responsible for more deaths than WW I & WW II combined, in a fraction of the time.

The front line workers, who lost patients in droves, hopefully saved others from lessons learned.

Dr. Fauci’s mantra: wear a mask . . . stay 6 ft. apart . . . wash hands frequently was heard by approximately 75 million Americans. And now that some 2 million people /day are getting vaccine shots the country is slowly reopening.

One thing that melancholically came out of the pandemic was a greater awareness for children’s mental health issues.

I’ve seen several different sets of numbers, but they report a large percentage increase of school age kids who suffer from anxiety and depression.

It’s a no brainer. Kids cooped up with little interaction with their friends and family have become socially retarded at a formative age.

These big jumps in reported cases of children’s mental health issues might well be the catalyst to acknowledge the importance of children’s mental health issues.

For the many kids who will suffer for the rest of their lives, I feel for them. I know what it’s like to have mental issues as a young boy and into manhood and not have it recognized and treated as needed.

My first anxiety attack I remember was when I was five years old. My parents had gotten tickets for a friend and me to sit in the audience of Wonderama, the Saturday morning kids show hosted by the recently departed Sonny Fox.

I was part of a small group selected from the audience to be part of the next segment. They walked us up on stage and the next thing I remember I was crying my eyes out and Sonny Fox knelt down and softly put his arms around me and soon after my tears went away.

A few years later I was invited to a friend’s birthday party at Jahn’s Ice Cream Parlor in Long Beach so a group of us could partake in their famous “Kitchen Sink” bowl of ice cream, whip cream and other sundae toppings.

We sat in a booth, with me wedged in the corner up against the wall and several other pre pubescent boys and girls. That was the first time claustrophobia reared its ugly head. My heart started to race and I started to squirm on the one half of my butt that was in contact with the seat.

And right before I was about to explode, I yelled out, “I have to pee!” And with that the others cleared a way for me to escape the overwhelming anxiety I felt and instead of heading toward the bathroom, I ran outside, put my hands on my knees and waited until my breath returned to normal so I could return for my share of the humongous bowl of ice cream, this time on the end seat of the booth.

In junior high school I went to my first funeral. A friend’s father died of a heart attack and it was different when someone you know dies, as compared to watching a TV show or movie where actors on the screen died.

That night I didn’t sleep a wink. I tossed and turned, sweated profusely all the time thinking one day I’ll die and others would come to my funeral. It was surreal. I didn’t know much about death, other than your time on earth was done. Finished. Kaput. I wasn’t a religious person, so I had no vision of what heaven would be like, if there really is a heaven at all.

The turning point was my senior year of college, where as a Psychology major, I took a psychology Testing class. This class, taught by Dr. Schuler, my favorite professor, dealt with the many different psychology tests that are administered to evaluate an individual’s mental health.

On that fateful day, the in class project was the popular, “Draw a Man”. We all took out a piece of paper, this was in the early 1970’s, way before laptops and the professor asked us to Draw a Man.

20 minutes later. We were asked to stop. And that’s when it finally sunk in — I had an anxiety issue.

I looked around at the others sitting near me and their drawings looked nothing like mine. My version of Draw a Man was heavily filled in, which I learned in a meeting with Dr. Schuler the next day was a sign that I could benefit from getting help.

The next week was the first time I ever meet with a psychologist. It was a turning point for me.

There had always been “incidents” growing up, even into adulthood. Occasionally there are still incidents in which I manifest my anxiety in multiple ways.

It’s better than it was. And each time I control it, I feel better about myself.

But now I wonder how the children of today, who will carry their anxiety and depression with them for the rest of their lives. I hope they get help well before their senior year of college.

I know first hand that the quality of their lives and of those around them depends on it.



Steven Wilson

Essays that provoke you to consider options on national events.