Surviving anxiety: Solome Tibebu at TEDxTC

I was pregnant but it was because I didn't turn the light switch off three or five times because I stepped on that crack because I didn't press my lips together a certain way when I read magazines sometimes if I read that magazine a certain wrong way I'd start to feel morning sickness when eating a bowl of M&Ms I would have to have three of the same color in a row five was acceptable seven was great but four or six in a row or not if I were to have say six green M&Ms in a row or four blue M&Ms in a row I'd have to grab another one otherwise the feelings of morning sickness would come and I would be doomed the connections made absolutely no sense to say the least and I knew it was totally irrational but not really only one percent of me was keeping me from becoming a total psychotic the other 99% of me heard saw smell felt like it was absolutely true I had to follow through on the compulsions if I was not to face the consequences whether they were real or imagined not only that but I had to hide the fact that I was doing these compulsions to everyone around me furthering me into a deeper spiral of help this cycle of hiding and going deeper hiding and going deeper only made it more difficult for me to get the help that I needed my father begged and pleaded with me how can you see this psychologist and tell them everything about your anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder we can't even tell me when he would say these things I could only offer vague cover-ups mind you I was only in seventh grade at the time I wasn't even holding hands with boys so it definitely wasn't a possibility but could you imagine 15 year old coming to my dad and sing years of pregnancy every five minutes he would have lost his mind he would have gone crazy and then I'd have to be dealing with two anxious people I never shared my anxiety with any of my friends not even the closest ones this was mostly because it was so exhausting trying to explain something so inexplicable to those that I knew would not be able to understand the few times that I did reveal to friends about my anxiety it turned into a circle of going around and talking about their panic attacks of the week as well like the time my friends ice-creams group fell from the cone and onto the sidewalk these situations just made me feel even more misunderstood and ashamed that I was completely alone in my thoughts several years therapist's medications later I was working with one therapist in particular really explained to me what was going on in my body he explained to me what was the OCD thought process how did it work what chemicals were involved in anxiety disorder no one had ever done that before and it really changed my life from then on when I was in my anxious situations I was more easily able to say oh I'm having a stomachache but maybe it's actually not because I'm pregnant and maybe it's because it's been six hours since I've had breakfast and I'm hungry or whatever it was the point was the more I understood about my anxiety disorder the easier it was for me to recognize when I was jumping to the worst-case scenario by the time I was four years into suffering from anxiety I had already dealt with two years of a pretty public and embarrassing panic disorder followed by another two years of a more difficult internal struggle with OCD I found myself attending a summer camp over 200 miles away there I knew my anxiety would be exasperated throughout the week and once there I decided I was really frustrated with my helplessness so I decided to Google teen anxiety in a variety of other keywords related to that search I was astounded to see that there wasn't anything out there the only things that came up were very medical what is anxiety but nothing that could really help me nothing that was like the community I was looking for or the refuge that I could retreat to when I needed it where I needed it so that's what I decided to take out my notebook and start designing anxiety in teams calm anxiety and teens a place for youth with mental health disorders in their families to find information inspiration and community I do that number of ways I really wanted with the information piece to recreate what that conversation was like with that one therapist to spread to other people who come to the site more understanding about what's going on in their bodies inspiration whether that be through the panic tips if you need breathing exercises right now it's really what helps you wherever you are whenever you need it lastly community we foster that through the community forum one of my favorite parts of the website is whether they be direct emails to myself or posts on the forum is hearing real stories from people who are going to the site and saying you know I've never told anybody about my anxiety before and now here they are pouring their whole story so everyone in the audience right now look to the two people on your right and look to the two people on your left looks really cool over one in five of you will suffer from a severe anxiety disorder in your lifetime so what can you do if somebody enters your life with anxiety be a champion for them parents sometimes that means sending your child to somebody else that can help more like in my case friends let them know that you are there this isn't your opportunity to tell the other person that they're being completely irrational they know rather it's your chance to hear that person's pain lastly those of you who are suffering from anxiety I want to tell you something I know you feel like you're completely unique in your experience right now but you're not the first person to they think these thoughts and you're certainly not alone so I'll leave you with one last thing pledged today right now to make a healthier lifestyle in all areas of your life when your body is exercised when your relationships are right when your nutrition's right you're on track to getting your mental health right


  1. It’s a help to hear others that’s suffered with anxiety. And to other people that do from time to time.

  2. She understands and that makes me feel like I'm not alone with these obsessions & compulsions!! Thank you for this TEDx Video


  4. what she's describing is OCD though, not an anxiety disorder. OCD obviously leads to high levels of anxiety but it's secondary to the actual illness, whereas with anxiety/panic disorder obsessive or avoidant behaviours are a secondary symptom.

  5. Watch "Death by Medicine" by Gary Null Ph.d., right here on YouTube.
    This documentary addresses anxiety and mental illness and its causes.

  6. Thank you Solome. My wife struggles with anxiety, and you've given me another tool to help and be supportive in a positive way. Thank you for sharing.

  7. Kava Kava reduces anxiety, and can be taken for a couple of weeks, then break off, then on again. This is the safe way to take it without bad side effects.

  8. I had the pleasure of working with Solome for about a year in a Minneapolis software company. She's a really wonderful person, as compassionate as she is bright and inventive. We need more people like her. I'm glad to call her a friend.

  9. true… anxiety disorders can feel so unique and make one feel alone but we are not alone with this. we migt have different ocd themes but its still ocd.

  10. Solome Tibebu founded Anxiety In Teens, a mental health help site for youth, as an anxious 16-year-old in 2006. Since then, Tibebu has grown the organization to reach isolated youth with anxiety, inform and educate affected teens and their friends and families, as well as inspire recovery and awareness. She is also the founder of Cognific, a software-as-a-service that facilitates mental-health homework computer games for youth patients and an analytics platform for psychotherapists.

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