I can't tell you how long it's taken me to write this. I've written it so many times and then deleted it because I couldn't find the words to explain everything exactly the way that I wanted to. I re-wrote it and deleted it, again, because I was scared of what people would think. But as cheesy as it sounds, everyone has a story to tell. If telling my story can help even just one person, then I'm willing to tell it. I want to open up about the importance of mental health and taking care of yourself because it took me entirely too long to finally do it.
I'm one of the very few people who actually enjoyed high school. I had good relationships with all of my teachers. I was confident, and I never really struggled with self-esteem. I had friendships that uplifted me and people in my life that never failed to bring out the best parts of me. I was a people person. I could talk to a brick wall. Sure, there were a few rough patches here and there, but overall, I have nothing negative to say about my time in high school. Everything was pretty great.
College changed me. I wish that I could type out this inspirational article telling you how amazing college was right from the beginning, but it was far from it. It was like a lightbulb that contained every ounce of my confidence suddenly went out. I can't pinpoint one specific moment where everything changed, but I wasn't me anymore, and I didn't know why. I had joined a sorority full of absolutely wonderful people. Seriously, these women are as good as it gets. I've never been surrounded by so many genuinely good people in my life. My classes weren't extremely difficult. There was nothing toxic in my life making me feel the way that I did. There was no trigger. I just felt like I didn't know myself anymore, and I didn't know how to fix it. I started noticing little things here and there that made me extremely nervous. These were things that I didn't use to give much thought to. Simple conversations made me nervous. Seeing familiar faces on campus made me nervous. My own friends made me nervous, through no fault of their own. Absolutely everything that involved interacting with other people made me feel completely numb, and I couldn't make any sense of it.
I ignored it. I told myself that whatever I was feeling was probably nothing. I was "just being dramatic." It was "all in my head." I was afraid that if I told someone, they would think I was crazy. I spent a lot of time alone for two and a half years of college. When I wasn't in class, I isolated myself from all other social situations. My friends would invite me to go to dinner or to go out to the bars and I would make up excuses as to why I couldn't make it. My sorority sisters were bonding at social events, and I was missing out on all of it. I was blowing off obligations left and right, and I was absolutely miserable. I cried all the time for absolutely no reason at all.
The Wednesday of the week before winter break, junior year, I can remember like it was yesterday. I drove to campus just like I did every other day. I parked my car, went to grab my backpack, and couldn't move. My entire body felt completely numb. I couldn't bring myself to get out of my car. My heart felt like it was about to implode inside of my chest. I sobbed in my car for the duration of my class and drove back to my apartment. I couldn't do this anymore. I finally decided to open up to my dad about everything that I had been feeling, and he suggested that I talk to someone.
In the middle of my third year of college, I was diagnosed with a Social Anxiety Disorder. I won't go into detail about the process or the medication that I take, but finally addressing it completely changed my life. I started to wake up in the morning and feel genuinely happy rather than disappointed. I found a passion for writing and changed my major. I involved myself more in my sorority and built connections with people that have forever changed my life for the better. I took on the role of President of Odyssey at Florida State University and built unbreakable friendships. I fell in love with my life, and I am finally me again.
More and more people are taking their own lives every single day instead of asking for the help that they need. I was there. I didn't necessarily want to end my life, but I didn't want to live it either. It didn't feel like my life anymore. Needless to say, the thought crossed my mind. To everyone and anyone that has ever felt the way that I did, please tell someone. You'll be eternally grateful that you did. I've never felt more loved and valued than I did when I finally decided to ask for help. You'd be surprised how many people are willing to listen if you're willing to talk. Trust me, I know it's easier said than done. But if you can find the courage to let go of everything you've been holding onto and finally ask for help, all of the parts of you that felt permanently broken will slowly but surely fall back into place.
- How Social Anxiety Affects The College Experience ›
- What Having Social Anxiety in College is Like ›