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.