There is an indefinite number of times I can recall when my anxiety disorder kept me from doing whatever it is that I wanted to do at the moment. I've negatively dealt with it for a long time, but college has given me a positive outlook on my life. Here are some of the ways that I've learned to help anxiety no longer dominate my life:
1. Find friends who also deal with the same issue.
In my small graduating class of 42, I found that I was unfortunately the only person who was "different." Attending college gave me the opportunity to make not one, but several friends who also suffer from some sort of anxiety disorder. It has been a major relief to have people that I can talk to, and they can truly relate to what I'm saying.
2. Stop thinking every person is judging you.
A constant issue that I dealt with throughout high school was the fact that people knew I had anxious outbursts before I had to do public presentations or speak in class. It felt like everyone would just prepare as they all knew I was going to shake and stutter during my time to speak. College has proven me so wrong. Plenty of people in my classes don't even pay attention when the professor is talking let alone when someone is trying to ask a question and whatnot.
3. Embrace unfamiliar surroundings.
I never went to parties or even had enough friends to be invited to a ton of social gatherings in high school. I didn't really have any guy friends, and most guys from my hometown weren't the most ideal to befriend anyway. Coming to college has shown me that nice guys do exist. And nice guys at parties aren't always trying to get one thing. Parties no longer make me uncomfortable and feel out of place. I know I don't even have to drink to have a good time, and no one judges me for it.
4. Don't be afraid to mention that you have anxiety to a teacher.
I didn't tell any of my professors about my condition until one of them asked to have a meeting with me when she noticed I paid attention but didn't say much in class. I felt 10,000,000 times better after I came clean to her during our meeting, and she even arranged a way for me to be able to express what I want to say in class without having to normally participate in the ways that I felt uncomfortable.
5. Lead by example.
With my anxiety disorder, I've learned that everyone is affected differently. I've come to realize that I know people who are more socially anxious than I am. For example, one of my friends was too afraid to order food at a restaurant. I'm usually the person who is afraid to speak up, but since she seemed so terrified, I spoke up and gave both of our orders. It felt good to just say something and not feel that sick-to-my-stomach feeling like I usually experience. I know It's hard to handle the anxiety, but it also feels great when I'm able to pull myself together even for just a moment in time.
6. Don't let attacks set you back.
I've had much experience with panic attacks. I can't say that I've panicked so much that I've needed to be admitted to a hospital, but I do know that feeling that rises up from my gut and makes me feel so afraid that I'll cry for hours on end. I used to skip school when I was having a day where I would feel anxious. College doesn't work that way. I've taught myself breathing techniques from self-help articles, and I consult someone when I'm feeling an attack coming on. I always thought that I would never get anywhere in life because of the "bad card" I was dealt (AKA anxiety). I've learned through my latest experiences that I wasn't cursed but rather blessed with something that I use to help others who also deal with the same struggle. Having an anxiety disorder has made me empathetic (which, in my opinion, is never a bad thing) and understanding