My name is Maria Hassel and I’m 22 years old. I am a songwriter, dog lover, documentary binger and someone living with severe generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and panic disorder. I was diagnosed when I was 18 years old. I was put on medication and went to therapy once a week. I hated therapy, the medication, talking about it, sleeping, eating, and myself. I just wanted to be normal.
But, I kept taking my medication and attending therapy and slowly things started getting better. I went from having panic attacks almost every night to being brave enough to move from my hometown of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, to Nashville, TN.
I wish I could tell you that in those two years that one day a flip just switched, and my anxiety disappeared. But it didn’t. It took hard work, pushing myself, being open and honest and accepting that anxiety is a part of who I am to be able to up and move across the country to pursue my dream. I still take my medication and go to therapy and have panic attacks, but I am no longer living in fear.
But it was on March 22, 2019, that I finally got brave enough to write about my story. I had never written a song about my anxiety because I could never find the words. I sat down at my keyboard at 3 a.m. AM and my story just kinda fell out. The words, “It’s nothing and it’s every little thing, Anxiety” said what I have been trying to say for four years. That night, I wrote my debut pop single, “Anxiety,” and I knew that I had to share it with the world.
The Born This Way Foundation celebrates individuality and initiates tough conversations. They are taking action and driving change in communities across the country. This incredible organization has inspired me to be braver and share my story and because of that, I want to give back. 10% of all proceeds I make on my debut pop single, “Anxiety” will be donated to The Born This Way Foundation.
This song is my story. Every word is the truth and I hope you can find a little part of your story in it, too. I want to tell you what I wish I would’ve known when I felt so alone: You are brave. You are strong. You deserve to be free from your mind so that you can become the person you have always wanted to be. You can do it. I believe in you. There is nothing wrong with you.
There is no cure to mental illness, but there is treatment. I know that I am going to be living with anxiety my entire life, but now it is not something I hide, it is something I embrace.
I want the negative stigma surrounding mental illness to disappear. I want people to seek help and believe that they can get better. I want the youth to realize that there is nothing wrong with them. Please know that you are not alone, and there are people who love you and want you to get better.
While I dream of a world where mental health is accepted and embraced, this dream is impossible unless doctors, educators, and parents start breaking down the cement wall that stands in front of mental health education.
Let’s change the stigma. Let’s change the world.
You can find my song, “Anxiety” here: