Dear Never Ending Anxiety,

I want you to stop hurting me and everyone else who has to deal with you.

Your existence in my life emerged in midst of my junior year in high school and I will never forget you. It was a very stressful time for not just me, but others as well because there were only two things in the back of every high school student's mind: SAT exams and college applications. I admit, the stress of having to go through so many steps to determine where I will potentially achieve my higher education was driving me insane. On top of college applications, this was also when I had the most New York State required Regents exams as well which really didn't help either. I was starting to feel hopeless and felt as if I'd never achieve anything and that no schools would ever accept me.

Upon entering my senior year of high school, that's when it was the real deal, the time to actually start applying for colleges. But sadly the pressures to major in specific subjects and to speed up my application process from both my family and guidance counselor didn't help me either. That's when things started to turn really dark.

One of the first things I noticed was how I was becoming distant from my friends, the ones I've been close with since we were kids, because I was so caught up in these new and weird feelings that started happening suddenly. However, I genuinely felt as if none of my friends even cared about me and didn't want to deal with my emotions. It's funny how I bring that up though because in truth, I was the one isolating myself from everyone. I didn't know how to really express myself and I felt bad about everything so I managed to disappear from a lot of people and create the image that I was okay and my usual self during school.

I still remember the exact feelings I would get when I would start to think or talk about the college application process because it still happens to me today. Of course, these feelings emerge due to other reasons, but hey they still exist. My heart starts to beat really fast, my stomach starts hurting a lot, it becomes a little hard to breathe, I pick at my skin and I start pacing the room back and forth with a million thoughts racing through my mind. This then ultimately leads to panic attacks because I'm constantly worrying and don't know how to really control my thoughts.

I wish I could say that, because of the fact that I'm now entering my third year of college majoring in something I actually enjoy while having a job that enables me to help people, that I'm doing okay, but it hasn't gotten much better.

I never even knew I had an anxiety disorder until a very brief counseling session that didn't last long in my first year of college. I still experience the same kind of feelings and sensations whenever something stressful happens to me and unfortunately the panic attacks haven't stopped. In fact, I've come to notice more things happening to me like being completely overwhelmed in a room of people and feeling like I'm not actually there and then eventually hiding elsewhere like the bathroom, for example.

Every time I recollect and look back on why exactly I have this anxiety, it always comes back to this even if it's still hard to explain. It may seem silly to get anxious over such trivial things half the time, but trust me, it really sucks and I wish I wasn't going through any of this. Growing up, the topic of anything related to mental illnesses never came up and it's been hard for me to seek help as I still go through it, but you know what, anxiety?

I want to thank you.

No really, I mean it, thank you for being the annoying tick in the back of my mind that plagues my every thought to this day. You're annoying, hard to follow, and you give me headaches all the time. You've ruined my relationships, made me afraid of approaching people, and have left me feeling alone, upset, and tired. But you know what? I don't know how my life would be without you. I wish I had a normal life from time to time, but I cannot imagine how it would be not worrying about everything and everyone. You've taught me value in learning to prioritize one thing over the other. You've made me realize that sometimes it's okay to focus on myself. You've helped me get through some really hard times and help me meet some incredible people that are still a part of my life regardless of how I feel.

You also gave me a reason to write this piece, to actually express my feelings.

So please be nice to me, anxiety.

Sincerely,

A Very Tired College Student.