All in Her Head: Anxiety and its crippling presence on creativity

Photo courtesy of The Studio Texas

Anxiety is recognized as a common mental disorder that can affect anyone at any age. While it is normal to experience occasional anxiety in life, people experience this troubling anguish so often that it interferes with daily activities. 

In January, women, and girls as young as 13-years-old became eligible to be screened for anxiety as part of their routine physical. It was established as a preventive service under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and is covered by insurance at no additional cost since it falls under well-women checkups. 

These screenings are beneficial reminders that acknowledging anxiety and its symptoms can elevate the conversation. It is also important to unpack the discouraging stigmas surrounding it. 

Many tend to perceive anxiety as a weakness and question its authenticity by claiming that it is not a real medical illness. These common misconceptions can cause those who deal with it to shy away from seeking help and experience low-self-esteem. 

While anxiety disorders are treatable, only 36.9% of those suffering receive treatment,  according to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America.

To demonstrate how dangerous these stigmas can be, Sam Houston State University’s dance department presented “All in Her Head,” a MFA thesis concert on Friday, March 5. In this powerful performance, choreographer, and MFA thesis candidate Meri-Ashton Van Winkle empowers the feminine perspective with a graceful composition and an all-female cast.

Throughout the inspirational score, Van Winkle uses “Her” as a collective entity in form. With this, viewers see a raw and uncensored perspective in the world of living with an anxiety disorder. 

The performance begins with anxiety manifesting into a feminine body in various ways. The disorder darkly appears in every corner, disguised as nightmares and hidden shadows of thought. In response, anxiety taunts the other women into distress and rips their sanity.

Through costume, choreography and music, Van Winkle artistically represents anxiety through the lens of feminine studies. 

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