6 Things You Need To Know About Me and My Anxiety

6 Things You Need To Know About Me and My Anxiety

I'm still me

Well, here it is, I'm finally coming clean about something that has been (literally) haunting me for as long as I can remember. I have anxiety and it affects the way that I live my life. I've struggled with it for almost as long as I can remember and a lot of times it goes unnoticed by the people in my everyday life. A lot of my personal relationships suffer because of the way my mind talks to me. As the years have passed, I'm learning to cope with my anxieties and approach them in a sensible manner, but part of that requires letting the people in my life know some major things about how I personally deal with the way that I am.

1. Sometimes, I just need to be alone

If it has been a really long and stressful day at school or at work, the first thing that I want to do when I get home is go straight to my room and sit on the floor. I need the time to recollect my thoughts of the day because truthfully, I'm still processing some of the awkward run-ins I had with people in my 8 am class. I like to just sit by myself and recall the entire day moment by moment before I'm ready to deal with other people.

2. I'm very nervous

I know tons of people who don't really understand this one, but I get nervous about absolutely everything. I get nervous pulling out my ID to get on the bus and standing in line for my favorite ride that I just got off of less than five minutes ago. Deep deep down, I know that nothing is wrong, but my shaking hands and wobbling legs find it very very hard to believe.

3. I'm an overthinker

Truth be told, that one conversation we had 3 years ago where you made that joke about how my fly was unzipped, still haunts me every time I see you. You might have forgotten what you had for breakfast but I remember (sometimes verbatim) conversations that I've had with people, even if they mean absolutely nothing.

4. I get angry

This one a lot of people know, but I'm easily angered and frustrated. Most of the time it's my anxiety taking over my thoughts and I'm angry at myself for letting it get to me. I just need you to understand that me being mad at you, is most likely me being mad at myself for being mad in the first place.

5. I value relationships

Because I find it really difficult to develop relationships with people, essentially because of my fear, I value the relationships that I have with people. It takes me a long time to open up about who I am and the things that my mind tells me.

6. I'm just me

Most importantly, I've been dealing with this for so many years of my life that I've been able to become more vocal about the thoughts that eat my brain. This is something that I deal with on a day to day basis, and I just want you to be aware. Don't treat me differently because all of a sudden you think I'm fragile and weird. I'm just me and that has never changed.

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I Have Anxiety, But I've Learned Not To Let It Control My Life

Your mental illness does not define you.

I was terrified of college. Almost my entire life, I have struggled with both general and social anxiety, and this amplified my worries about moving six hours away to a city I had only visited once 1000 times more. For almost two weeks before move-in day, I would have episodes of crying, panicking and hyperventilating every night because I was so scared of the unknown.

Each person’s experience with anxiety varies, but for me, a big trigger is not knowing the future and performing tasks by myself.

In college, both of these things are prevalent. Big questions such as, 'what if I don’t like my roommate?' bothered me, but even smaller, everyday obstacles like, 'what if I have to eat lunch by myself?' or, 'where are my classes?' caused me more stress.

With the first semester of freshman year under my belt, I can assure anyone who deals with anxiety or is nervous about college that everything is going to be OK. I didn’t die, and I found amazing friends. College has been one of the best experiences of my life so far. After asking around, I discovered that several people I know experience anxiety too.

In fact, 40 million adults in the United States suffer from this mental illness, with anxiety being one of the most common mental illnesses in the country.

Before I share a few methods that have proven helpful to me in dealing with my anxiety, I’d just like to say that your mental illness does not define you. My anxiety will always be with me, but I have learned not to let it control my life.

Having a mental illness is not shameful, and it is certainly not shameful to ask for help, whether that be talking to family, friends or a therapist.

With the help of my therapist, I have learned some effective ways in dealing with my anxiety in college. One is meditation. This physically calms down the body by reducing the heart rate. I have two apps on my phone that provide short meditation guides that I listen to when I'm feeling stressed. "Insight Timer" and "MINDBODY" are what I recommend.

Yoga is another option that achieves the same outcome by allowing the nervous system to relax. This next one is one of my favorites: coloring.

Coloring in coloring books is actually a method that keeps the brain active while allowing your mind to de-stress.

Physical exercise is important as well, and this can be as easy as walking to class.

Everyone needs to remember that having a mental illness is no less shameful than having a broken leg, and seeking help is not embarrassing. I’ll admit, the journey is a long and painful one, but we can overcome by taking small steps each and every day.

Everyone fights their own battles, and mine is against anxiety.

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Choosing Your Dream College Is An Unhealthy Modern Obsession

In the end, you can find happiness on any campus.

Please allow me to share my first-hand account of this weird cultural fixation with teens finding the “perfect” school:

During my sophomore year of high school, it hit me: my days nestled in the comfortable clutches of secondary school were numbered. After graduation, I would effortlessly move onto the “best years of my life” at college and the rest of my existence.

As this life plan suddenly occurred to me, my personality changed. I became utterly driven by the idea of college acceptance letters swarming into my house like Harry Potter’s letters from Hogwarts in “The Sorcerer’s Stone.”

From that moment, I thought of the concept of a university daily. Idolizing the prospect of receiving incredible scores on SATs and ACTs, I enrolled in four standardized testing prep courses, of which I studied for every single day. The fact that there is a booming industry, making absolute bank off the anxious high schooler, speaks volumes. Truly, Boston College reported the value of the college testing preparation market up to $700 million.

Joining random clubs and teams to pad my resume, staying up all night to write impeccable essays, and reviewing for exams from the minute I woke to the minute I fell asleep, I was exhausting myself. I put quantifiable scores above my mental state.

The worst part: I didn’t even have a true end goal. There was no special school for which I was striving, just the idea of a “dream college” daunted over me.

Fast-forward to my senior year, I pondered which college to go to hourly. I always came up short because I would find a new fault with every single school. This one is too selfishly expensive. This one is too scarily risky. This one is too embarrassingly safe.

By March of that year, all the cards were on the table. I received answers from all the colleges to which I applied. Surprisingly, I got into my top choices, my so-called “dream colleges” - but I didn’t feel like everyone told me to feel.

A bitter wave of emptiness and overwhelming sadness crashed over me. I had spent years of my youth stressing and studying…for what? Letters from colleges that I had already overanalyzed to the point of complete ugliness? It felt like a waste.

When the time to move into college arrived, I decided to reprioritize and redefine myself. It was high-time to acquire more depth than a culmination of numbers (my scores and scholarships).

I realized that your environment can only matter so much in terms of your internal condition. Your reaction to everything around you is so much more important to your joy than, well, everything around you.

Finding the most elite and flawless university is an unfair expectation to put on a single place. So why does our society make it this way? Don’t get me wrong, it is very rewarding to work diligently on your studies. However, at what point is this whole thing even about learning anymore?

Cover Image Credit: everypixel

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