Whitlam Institute

What Matters 2019 Shortlist

What Matters 2019 Shortlist

Just Pretending

Just Pretending

Eva Green

Year 6, St Raphael's Primary School

This is the story of a girl. A girl who suffers with anxiety. This girl is me.

It started one night when I was completing homework, feeling a little bit nervous, though I was not sure why.

Suddenly, I felt a feeling of anguish wash over me. I sat down on my bed slowly, becoming accustomed to this new feeling taking control of my body. Laying down, I tried to get some sleep. I was wide awake, as the feeling was disrupting my effort. I thought about this and what it could mean before I drifted off to sleep.

The next day, I barely spoke to anyone, as every time I tried social interaction, the anxious feeling would grow stronger and tell me negative things. Like I would mess up and that person wouldn't like me anymore. I was overthinking everything and made silly mistakes on tasks I was assigned because I was worrying so much about pushing myself.

This continued for the whole week, as the anxious feeling still hadn't disappeared. Eventually, I got quite good at pretending that I wasn't scared of human interaction, which made the anxious feeling even worse. I didn't know what to do. I felt desperate for a way out, but the negative thoughts came back to say that I would never escape the anxious feeling, that no one really even cared about my problems. So I stayed quiet.

Anxiety disorder.

A mental health disorder characterised by feelings of worry, anxiety or fear that are strong enough to interfere with one's daily activities.

The definition was taunting me. I carelessly opened the desk drawer and messily scrambled around, looking for some paper, knocking over the box of pencils and pens in the process. The sound of the contents of the box hitting the floor agitated me as I attempted to clear the desk, making room for the paper as I slammed it down on the space I had cleared. I had resorted to poems to relieve my stress. Brushing my short hair out of the way, I fumbled with the pencil and began to write.


People stare,

Stare at me in this nightmare,

I scream,

Yet not a peep can be heard,

As they continue to relentlessly stare at me,

Ignoring my desperate cries to escape,

Their eyes burning into my back like acid,

My chest tightens,

I ask myself,

Can I escape this nightmare?

The people laugh at my question,


Not at my question,

At my ignorance,

My feelings that don't matter,

My feelings that tower over me like the people,


I look around and see a bottle of water,

I pick it up and unscrew the cap,

My only way out of this nightmare”

I placed the now blunt pencil beside the poem, unsatisfied. Sighing loudly, I scrunched up the paper and threw it into my school bag. It missed. I clenched my fists and pulled my hair. I didn't know why I got so agitated over small things like this. Maybe all the worrying?

Eventually, I built up the courage to tell a friend in a year level higher than me.

“If you're ever going through something like this, please, speak up.”

And so I did.

This is the story of a girl. A girl who suffers with anxiety. This girl was me.

My name is Eva, and this is the situation I went through about one year ago. I am happy to say that I told someone and am now feeling like a small weight has been lifted off my shoulders.