“You’re a boss ass bitch that can do math!”
Yup. Meet my counselor.
A few weeks into my freshmen year of college, I started seeing someone for my anxiety.
Just like every freshmen, I wanted to make friends, be accepted, have fun, and succeed. I found myself having an anxiety attack in the student restaurant at my school. The friend I was with, and had basically just met, had no idea how to deal with the situation. He invited a nun over to talk to us, thinking it would calm me down.
This wasn’t new to me. When I used to be involved in high school youth group, a youth minister once asked me if a praise and worship night would help me feel better.
Religion doesn’t make anxiety better. Friendship doesn’t make anxiety better. Success doesn’t make anxiety better.
Treatment makes anxiety better.
Thankfully, the same friend that thought religion would make me feel better was the same friend that walked with me to the counseling center for my first appointment.
I had been to counseling in high school, but it wasn’t super helpful.
I walked into the counseling center very skeptical. I only went there after being told academic accommodations could only be made after seeing a psychiatrist. I had generalized anxiety. My brain shut down when I took tests or quizzes and I wanted extended time, but it seemed I had to go through this whole mess of counseling before that.
Little did I know, the next year I would spend with my counselor helped me more than extended exam time ever could.
The first couple sessions were a bit awkward, as I was telling a total stranger all my irrational fears and problems.
But at the end, he had me repeating back to him that I was a “boss ass bitch.”
He helped me discover what triggered me and how to deal with those triggers.
Dealing was painful. I used to seek drugs, alcohol, and sex as outlets for pain. He helped show me that I was capable of getting through tough moments on my own.
Though I could get through these moments on my own, I realized that there were ways to make this battle less exhausting.
I started seeing my therapist around the end of September. When I went home in December, I was so anxious I was hallucinating. Sitting in a parking lot, I couldn’t stop hyperventilating. My heart was beating out of my chest and no matter how much I explained to myself I was fine, I couldn’t calm down. Hours later, I did.
I was having anxiety attacks much less frequently than I did before seeing my therapist, but they were still happening, and sometimes I couldn’t stop them. Many of my friends had reservations about psychiatric drugs. They were afraid it would change them. My mother, a very wonderful pharmacist, wanted me to give them a try.
My psychiatrist prescribed the first medicine I took.
It knocked me on my ass.
I slept a lot and wasn’t energetic. The Jessie that my friends knew was off the walls, fun and crazy. I has so much nervous energy I was fun to watch. Now I slept and couldn’t motivate myself to do anything.
After turning several papers in late, I asked my doctor for a change in medicine.
I started feeling myself again, and I learned that myself didn’t have to a semi-composed ball of nervous energy. When my friends asked me how I was doing, I could just say “good” like a normal person. I didn’t have to say “OK” and start explaining why I was stressed, with a weight placed on my chest.
I used to feel restless and have chest pains at least once a day from stress. Now, I may feel that once every two weeks, tops.
I thought what I felt was just a little more stressed then most people. Now that I desire to get sleep and not stay up all night doing homework, I know that it wasn’t.
Medication may not be the answer for everyone, but it definitely was and is for me. I discovered that through therapy. I learned how to coach myself to think in a different way. Instead of taking shots for stress, I started asking myself for the root issues and reasoning through them. When I reasoned through things, but still couldn’t calm down, I would take my anxiety attack medicine.
The other instances were just learning how to think better. We all have thinking faults that don’t make sense. Having a counselor is a soundboard for those irrational thoughts.
I have very mild anxiety. But it’s still there, and it’s still uncomfortable.
If you’re not comfortable, you can talk to someone. It’s a bit strange, but finding the right person helps a lot. It took me three counselors to get there. Also, I won’t lie. It’s expensive. Find what your insurance will cover. If you find someone outside of your coverage, talk to them, they may cut costs due to your situation.
Counseling isn’t for the weak. It’s for people that just need a hand. If you have a broken bone, you need a cast. If you have broken thoughts, you may need a counselor.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help.