To The College Student With Anxiety, It Gets Better, You're Not Alone

To The College Student With Anxiety, It Gets Better, You're Not Alone

It does get better, it just takes some time.

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My anxiety started a little over a year ago. I was frequently having panic attacks, getting overly nervous about things, and all around just felt stressed. As college students, we're used to feeling stressed, but this was an entirely different form. I always felt like I was forgetting to do something and even the smallest of tasks felt like huge deals for me. There was this one class last spring that I would have panic attacks during the whole class.

Seventy-five minutes of anxiety attacks twice a week. It doesn't sound like much, but at the moment, it felt like I was having a heart attack or that I was about to faint. My heart would race, my palms, back, and forehead would sweat profusely, and it felt like the room was too bright, as I was hyper-aware of my sense. The class itself was pretty interesting, fun, and easy, but my brain freaked out whenever I went.

So, all I wanted was to skip that class and stay in bed all day. But I knew that if I did that, my anxiety won, and I didn't want that. I decided that I was stronger than my anxiety, and I went to that class every day. I usually walked around campus with my roommate up until the last possible second, then I would sit in the back of the classroom, pop an earbud in and listen to music quietly during the lecture, write my notes, and try to focus on anything other than the cloud of doom over my head.

Usually sitting in the back of the classroom has its perks, such as having the option to leave at any point, but this classroom was set up differently. The back of the classroom was the farthest from the doors. So, as desperate as I was to leave during class, I stayed in my seat. I knew if I left the classroom, I wouldn't come back. I felt bad that I had music playing softly for more than half the lectures, but I will not apologize for putting my mental health first.

During the summer, my panic attacks would come and go. I would get them when I was driving home from work somedays and that stressed me out, but everything always turned out to be fine. I never got into any accidents, and they eventually faded away. When my family and I went to Kalahari, the largest indoor waterpark in the country, for vacation, I would get panic attacks before we went on rides. I have a fear of heights, as well, and some of the rides are hundreds of feet up in the air. My heart definitely had a field day before and during the rides, as it would not stop racing.

I had two classes last semester with well over 100 students in each one. Having that many people in each class scared me, so I made sure to sit in the aisle seat in the last row. Just in case I needed to leave at a moment's notice and get some fresh air. While the panic attacks came and went, I found myself completely fine after leaving class. Most of my panic attacks have happened during my college classes. I don't have an explanation as to why that it is or on how to stop them. I do know how to make them bearable even when you feel like your heart is about to burst.

Take deep breaths and focus on your breathing.

When we panic, our breathing becomes shallow, so make sure you can feel your breaths through your entire body. This will immediately calm you down at least a little. Try to remember that they only last for a few seconds, with the longest being a couple minutes. Bring water or a drink to class so you can busy your mind by taking it out of your bookbag, unscrewing the cap, and taking a few sips. You need to force yourself to focus on one thing. Focus on your professor speaking, the slideshows, writing notes, doodling, typing something on your computer, anything. Once you truly focus on something, your body will relax and calm down even more. It's scary having panic attacks come at you out of the blue but knowing how to maintain and handle them makes them much more manageable.

Remember that you are stronger than your mental disorder.

You can handle anything, don't believe your anxiety, it's lying to you. You can do it. Don't be afraid to put yourself out there and take chances. Your anxiety will tell you-you shouldn't, but you are so much more than that. It's taken me a year to get to this point, so I understand that it's easier said than done. But it can be done. And it will be done. You just need to believe yourself and trust that you know what's best for you. Don't be afraid to take mental health days. Or take a nap after a really stressful day. I would come back from my class and immediately take a nap because my panic attacks exhausted me.

There's no shame in taking time to yourself in order to clear your mind.

Only you can determine how to improve your mental health. And it's so important to take those days off. Always remember that you're not alone in this battle, there is help all around. Don't be afraid to seek and take advantage of it. You may feel like you're dying, but it always feels worse than it is, trust me.

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The Truth About Dating A Girl With An Anxiety Disorder

She knows how annoying she can be, but she just prays you love her regardless of her flaws.

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Anxiety: A nervous disorder characterized by a state of excessive uneasiness and apprehension, typically with compulsive behavior or panic attacks.

The definition makes it sound really daunting. Truthfully, there is no one way to describe generalized anxiety disorder if you have it. It is hard to live with, hard to cope with and unfortunately, really hard to date with.

Girls with anxiety are different than the average girl when it comes to relationships. That's just an honest statement, no matter how much it hurts me to say it.

We need the constant reminder that you love us, even though we know in our hearts that you do. We panic when you don't answer your phone, in fear that we did something wrong. We care about your feelings when you say that we don't need to worry and we need to be a little calmer. But it's so damn hard.

It isn't easy to love someone who worries about everything 24/7. Half the time, we know we shouldn't be doing the things we do. We know we shouldn't blow up your phone or ask just one more time if you are mad at us. But we can't help it. It says it right in the definition: compulsive behavior due to excessive uneasiness.

Being with a girl with anxiety is probably downright exhausting. It's exhausting for us to have our minds constantly running and worrying. But I promise it's worth it.

We come to you with everything because you are the one person who always knows how to make us feel better. When we are happy, you are the one person we want to be happy with. We all know the constant reassurance, reminders and the same old arguments get old. It gets old to us too.

There was never a time I wanted to have a panic attack because my boyfriend wasn't answering his phone. In my head, I knew where he was because he was usually in the same three places. I knew he wasn't mad at me because I didn't do anything to make him upset. I knew how busy he was with his classes and he was probably studying and I needed to give him space. But the little voice in my head always argued, "What if you did something wrong? What if he's ignoring you because he's angry? What if he's seen your messages and calls, but no longer wants to be with you?" And then I give in. I call, I text, I cry, I panic. Only to feel even worse 10, 30 or 50 minutes later because you answer angrily, telling me what I already knew after I did what I knew I shouldn't have done.

Having anxiety is almost like having a drug addiction. You know all the things that trigger you. You know all the ways to stay away from the bad places in your mind so you don't end up relapsing. But you do anyway and it hurts worse every single time.

Dating a girl with anxiety is as hard as it gets, but she will love you like no other. She is so incredibly thankful for all the things you put up with to be with her. Because she is worried about being loved, she goes the extra mile to always remind you how much you are loved. She always asks if you are ok because she cares about the answer and knows what it's like not to be ok.

The truth is that dating anybody with anxiety is difficult, but it isn't impossible. You get back everything you put in, even though you may not realize it. Trust me, she is sorry for being the annoying, crying, worried, naggy mess and it embarrasses her because she knows better and she wants to be better for you. But please love her. Hold her, understand her, listen to her, calm her, be there for her. In your heart, you know she would turn around and do all the same things for you in a heartbeat.

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Fight And Flight, How I Conquer My Emotional Battles

In times of high threat and peril, science says our innate response usually follows one of two paths: fight or flight.

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snele1
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Like almost any other concept related to humans, the idea of "fight or flight" boils down to either/or, one over the other, choice A or choice B. This seems logical, as science also says we can't actually multitask as humans. We may think we can manage multiple tasks simultaneously, but we're inevitably occupied by one thing at a time. Now, depending on each person, the response to any given situation might vary. Someone might feel courageous enough to stay and "fight," while someone else may deem it wiser to make like a bird and take "flight."

Regardless, this concept revolves around a definitive choice, a choice of just one response, not both.

While I agree with this concept as it is, I've come to think that, in some areas of life, we can manage both. We can fight, but we can also take flight. Although fight or flight generally refers to physical threats/obstacles, I think the fight and flight apply on an emotional/mental front.

This past weekend was quite a whirlwind, blowing my emotions in all kinds of directions, which is really what prompted me to think about my emotional response to the weekend as a whole. As a bit of important background, I'm not a crier by nature. I just don't cry in public/ in front of others. Don't get me wrong, I don't see anything wrong with crying in public. It's a perfectly human response. No book, movie, song, or the like has ever moved me to tears. (Well actually, the movie "The Last Song" with Miley Cyrus did cause a stream of tears, but that's literally one out of a decade.)

Enough about that for now, though, I'll make mention of it again later.

I think this past weekend's deluge was an unassuming foreboding of the flood of emotions that came pouring in on Sunday. The day began like any other Mother's Day, we opened gifts with my mother before heading to my aunt's for a family lunch. Only once we arrived, I was informed that my other aunt, who's like a second mom to me, lost her beloved Shih Tzu of 14 years, Coco. We all knew that Coco's time was likely limited, but it still seemed sudden. I was a bit rocked by the news, but ultimately knew she had given life a run for its money. After all, I like to joke that if I come back, it'd ideally be as a house dog.

Needless to say, the suddenness of it all wouldn't really hit me till later that afternoon.

Fast-forwarding to the evening, we decided visiting my other grandmother would be a nice gesture on Mother's Day. Although she was still out and about, my house-ridden grandfather was there, and so we decided it'd be nice to stay and visit with him. A bit more background, my grandfather was diagnosed with Alzheimer's a few years ago, so we've unfortunately watched him slowly decline since the diagnosis. As such, this is where things went on a steep downhill slide. We arrived mid-nap, which subsequently meant waking him from his nap to visit. In hindsight, it seemed like a very poor choice, as when he awoke he seemed completely disoriented and largely still asleep.

It was as if his eyes were awake, but most everything else about his body remained asleep.

We stayed only but 12 or 15 minutes, as it didn't prove useful to stick around any longer. Enter the flight of my emotions. I've known my grandfather wouldn't be the same every single time I visited. I've dreaded but prepared for the time when he wouldn't remember us, or wouldn't be able to communicate with us the same. As much as I thought I'd be unphased when it happened, I wasn't. At the time, I tried to shuffle through other thoughts. I tried to jump to the upcoming things for the week and what I needed to take care of next. I wanted my mind to float off till my emotions wouldn't be so strong.

That's where I believe the flight response happens for me. When I'm face to face with an emotion-laden experience, whether it's sadness, frustration, or whatever, I try to shift my thoughts away from what's stirring them up. My mind takes flight. Maybe, that's why I don't cry in public. I don't allow my mind to focus long enough to conjure up a physical response.

My mind never stays in flight for long, though. I wouldn't say I'm scared of the emotions, rather I just need them to calm down or settle before I can pick them apart. I tend to process my feelings internally, but they never go unchecked or un-analyzed. That's why, even though I typically don't show my emotions in public, my throat still tightens up and my eyes still become glassy behind closed doors.

Nevertheless, this is where the fight response shows up. Except, I wouldn't say this is so much a fight, even if the situation can be a sort of emotional battle. It's more of a coming-to-terms. I know that I can't outrun my feelings, and I don't ever intend to. At some point, I let them catch up to me, and then the sorting process can begin. It's usually not that tumultuous like a real fight would be, but it doesn't mean that the emotions don't present a challenge at times.

snele1
snele1

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