Imagine writing a paper except you can’t focus on writing for more than 15 minutes at a time. Despite taking the medication(s) you and your doctor decided would best help you function like a ‘normal’ human being, you just cannot seem to focus.
Then you start thinking about everything you need to do and about the fact you can’t focus.
Suddenly it gets hard to breathe and you feel your heart race in your chest. Tears begin to fill your eyes as you fumble through your stuff and hurry to the nearest bathroom.
You feel helpless as your anxiety attack is in full swing.
What would’ve taken anyone else an hour or two, takes you six hours...
Many college students will tell you they feel overwhelmed by their responsibilities. However, for college students living with ADHD and or anxiety, managing these responsibilities isn’t just overwhelming; it feels near impossible.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5), a tool used by psychiatrists to help diagnose clients, symptoms of ADHD include, but are not limited to, difficulty focusing, restlessness, forgetfulness, impulsiveness and avoiding tasks that require sustained the mental effort.
Anxiety has similar symptoms as ADHD. According to the DSM-5, symptoms of General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) are restlessness, fatigue, irritability, difficulty concentrating, muscle tension and sleep disturbance.
In some cases, ADHD and GAD are comorbid.
Understandably, these symptoms would make succeeding in a university setting more difficult.
It’s unexplainable difficult and everyone likes to write it off as just another excuse. “It [anxiety and depression] makes everything 20 times harder than it needs to be,” as one of my close friends put it.
She’s 100% right. It makes you feel like you’re less than. Everyone else is making the Dean’s List or getting internships or something, and it feels like you just can’t compete no matter how much you medicate.
It’s like juggling chainsaws. Everything is fine until you drop one. Then you’ve lost a limb
The UA Counseling Center reports that anxiety and depression make up 52% of top concerns for students. If you feel like you’re drowning in your studies, you’re not alone.
More students put it off and think they can just deal with it until they’re in a crisis to come to seek help. Or people who have never been diagnosed with anything struggle with classes and college life, get tested and find out they could benefit from accommodations. Unfortunately, accommodations don’t extend past college, and you just can’t accommodate everything that comes with having ADHD and anxiety.
Self-care is a key element in coping with ADHD, anxiety and other disabilities. They are a must. If working out helps you manage your anxiety, you have to make time for it. If you can’t focus without sleep, you have to make time for it.
College is hectic. Heck, life is hectic. It’s easy to get caught up in the millions of things you have to do. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and sit in your car for 15 minutes while you have your come-apart. Don’t let a bad five minutes ruin your whole day. Look at things in chunks. Take small steps. Tell yourself you can get through this.
You can get through it. I promise. Remember you’re not alone, and you will get through it. Just remember to breathe, and you’ll do a fine job at juggling all those chainsaws.