Okay, we have all heard of it, felt it or read about it on someone's Facebook. Anxiety is becoming more common in today's millennial generation. I'm not talking about the "I feel so anxious.." I mean the REAL DEAL. This mental illness is not always taken as seriously as it should, and it is creating an uproar in the youth. College students, especially see this first hand. College is a petri dish for anxiety and depression. Between classes, homework, study hours and any extracurricular activities we are likely to feel anxious. This is true, but it is only the start of what triggers a mind poisoned by anxiety. Anxiety affects every aspect of decision making, with or without realizing it.
In the classroom, anxiety can skew focus and make it difficult to think about what is going on in front of you. It is thinking about an argument from last night instead of taking notes. It is reading an entire textbook and forgetting every word, because something else is really on your mind. Studying can seem pointless and taxing because you never feel like you're accomplishing anything or reaching your goal.
It is a constant worry that you're forgetting something.
Relationships with friends or a significant other are affected by anxiety. It is a constant need for reassurance and affection. Anxiety makes overthinking an effortless task. It is waiting for a text message as if your entire life depended on it. It is constantly thinking you're not good enough. It is wondering why you weren't invited, why they ignored you or why they haven't reached out to you in a while. It is pushing people away because you think "it's best for them". It is trying to not to feel everything so deep that it turns your stomach into knots. It is creating scenarios in your mind so real, you're convinced they're happening. It is not being able to finish a meal because you remember something that upset you a week, month or even years ago. Anxiety makes all those bad feelings more vivid than they normally would be. I promise I'm not overreacting, my anxiety is stronger than I am sometimes.
Anxiety is feeling like you're drowning before you touch the water.
College is a time to better yourself for the future. It is where we find ourselves anticipating our future more than ever. This should be an exciting time, yet anxiety has another plan. The future is something that always lingers in the back of our minds. It creeps up in the most inconvenient times. It is not something your mind allows you to look forward to. Anxiety makes me nervous about the future. It makes me scared and discouraged that the outcome will not meet your expectations. It makes things like weddings, graduations and house warming parties difficult because your anxiety says "these things may never come to you". Or, anxiety will tell me "you won't find a job", "you will regret this" and "you won't be good enough". You know that you have potential to do great things, but sometimes that mentality gets pushed out by the hands of this illness.
Simple tasks like walking to class, eating lunch with a group of friends all the way to posting on social media are so different in the eyes of an anxious mind. What happens if someone judges you for what you eat, what you wear and how you walk? These are all questions we ask ourselves DAILY. It is sickening to feel this way, but it is something many people struggle with.
If you know someone struggling with anxiety, be there for them. Remind them they are loved and they are appreciated. If they are down about something small, don't demean their issue. Remember that anxiety magnifies problems and makes them important in our eyes. If you yourself struggle with anxiety, don't hesitate to ask for help. It is okay to be sad and angry with this disease. It is a monster. Just make sure to remind yourself you are stronger than you might think. Remember you have support and you are making progress. There are tons of resources to help you detect, manage, and cure anxiety. Whether it be a doctor, finding online guidance or talking to others with anxiety, find a way to help YOU get better.
You are not your illness, you are you.