What Does an Anxiety Attack Sound Like?

What Does an Anxiety Attack Sound Like?

Young woman works to de-stigmatize mental illness through storytelling on Instagram

Hi. My name is Aurora and I journal openly about my experiences with generalized anxiety and major depressive disorder to raise awareness about the importance of mental health and the stigma surrounding mental illness. Writing is such a cathartic process, and It's my hope that in sharing these personal thoughts and experiences that others can find comfort, knowing they aren't alone or crazy. I was inspired by an anxiety attack to write about the following experience. To connect with me or read more about these topics, you can find me on Instagram as @auroralyrayoga.

When I tell you I'm having a bad day, and you ask me why, I can't tell you exactly why.

I may know what triggered it.
But that's just the beginning.

The following is what can happen in the course of a 5 minute conversation on a "bad day."

This is what major depressive disorder sounds like.
This is what generalized anxiety sounds like.

It starts with one thought.
And one leads to another.
And too many of them all at once can lead to…
A Bad day:

Say something.
No, don't say it, no one wants to hear what you have to say anyways.
Why are you so anxious?
You need to get over your fear by participating.
So participate.
Why did you say that?
Of course you would mention a random story that has basically nothing to do with what's going on right now.
It's completely irrelevant.
While we're at it, these feelings that you have about this whole conversation is irrelevant.
These frustrations are irrelevant.
This anxiety is irrelevant.
No one cares and it's your problem.
You created it.
It's your fault.
So stop complaining.
No one wants to hear it.
You're just like he said you were: always saying the wrong things at the wrong time.
No wonder you have social anxiety.
No wonder he left.
He never even liked you for your personality!
Did you honestly think he did?
How could he when you can barely stand yourself either?
How could it possibly be different with someone else?
They aren't interested in you for your thoughts.
They just pretend to get to know you long enough until you let your guard down.
No one can love you until you love yourself.
And that will never happen so you're screwed.
Why can't you just stay on topic for once?
With anything?
You start all these projects and can't even finish any of them.
You know why?
Because you're not focused.
If you had better focus you could get things done.
Then you'd be more successful.
Little things wouldn't bother you.
Everything bothers you.
And you're pathetically trying so hard to get over things.
All the fucking time.

I see you flailing, just trying to keep your head above water and it's pathetic.
No one wants to see that.
It's embarrassing.
Trying so hard to let things go.
Trying so hard all the time and all you're doing is barely getting by and making everyone around you painfully aware of your problems.

Your problems.

You know what your problem is?
You take things too seriously.
You take things too personally.
No one really pays that much attention.
Stop thinking you've got something valid to say.
So much for accepting things.
You can't even accept the fact that you can't accept things well.
How pathetic is that?
And you call yourself a yoga teacher?
What are you even doing with your life?
All your thoughts run in circles and you can't control them.
You've never been able to control them and you never will.
You can't pick yourself up fast enough.
Something small happens and your thoughts go tumbling out of control and before you know it you're crying.
What the hell is wrong with you?
Why can't you be like everyone else and just not be so affected by every little thing?
You cry over everything.
What does this current situation have to do with your dad dying?
Why are you sad about that all of a sudden?
You always bring the past into the present unnecessarily.
That's your problem.
You try too hard.
You try too hard to make people like you.
You care too much about what other people think.
You're uncomfortable all the time for all these stupid reasons.
No one really cares.
It was always like this and it will always be like this.
Because despite all your pathetic attempts at fixing all this, it's still a problem.
Cheers to the next 40 years of a life like this.
Good luck getting through it.
Because as hard as you try, you can’t just get rid of your personality and replace it with a new one.
And the fact that you even strive to do that is pretty embarrassing.
You have way too many insecurities.
Just get over yourself already!

"You okay?" He asks.

I look up, after staring into space.

Cover Image Credit: Matthew Henry, Unsplash

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6 Ways To Take The Stress Out Of College, Kinda

When you start to feel overwhelmed by the workload of college, you should practice some of these techniques in order to help make college less overwhelming.

Stress is one word that every college student or worker is familiar with. According to helpguide.org, the formal definition of stress is your body’s response to any type of demand or threat, which is also known as the fight or flight response. Stress in small amounts is fine, but too much stress can cause negative effects on your health, such as heart diseases, depression, anxiety, and sleep problems. And as finals are growing closer, students in college have more reasons to feel stressed. College can be very stressful and can cause students to feel very overwhelmed or depressed, especially in their first year. However, there are ways you can handle stress. Here are the six ways that you can deal with stress from college.

1. Exercise.

One thing that has always helped me with stress is taking the time to exercise. Exercise can relieve anxiety and can help you to focus better in class. It’s also very beneficial for helping you stay fit.

It can be very hard to set aside time for exercising, especially if you are taking a lot of hard courses, but try to set aside 15 minutes to exercise three times a week. You could even opt for taking the stairs instead of the elevator to class or taking a longer walk to class. Whatever the case, exercising can really help relieve a lot of stress that can be caused by the pressure from courses.

2. Study and plan assignments.

One of the most common things that almost every college student will do is cram for a test or turn an assignment in at the last minute. Almost every student has at least once tried to turn in an online assignment at exactly 11:59 p.m. on the due date.

However, doing assignments or studying at the last minute can cause unnecessary stress. Therefore, it’s better to either do the assignment right away or break the assignment into chunks each day. Most students will use a planner to help them decide how to break the assignment or studying into chunks.

You can also plan how much time you will spend on each part of the assignment. For example, you may decide that you will spend Monday studying for 15 minutes or an hour the next day.

The one exception to this is if you are the type of person who can't do an assignment in chunks. I’ve heard of several people who work better on assignments by finishing the assignment all in one day. If this is the case, you should at least do it as soon as possible to get the assignment out of the way. This will help you to avoid feeling overwhelmed by your workload.

3. Avoid caffeine.

This is something in which I personally have a hard time doing since I run on coffee. Caffeine, however, can cause more stress and anxiety since it can cause your heart to race. I notice often that when I drink coffee before an exam, it worsens my test anxiety. Therefore, it's best to avoid coffee before a test or if your dealing with a lot of stress.

4. Get plenty of sleep.

This is the one thing that a lot of students in college don't follow. Especially since a lot of students pull all-nighters where they stay up all night studying for their exams.

Not getting enough sleep can cause major problems with focusing in class and with memory. You can also end up over studying for an exam if you spend too much time studying with no breaks. Pulling an all-nighter won’t help you get the grade that you are hoping to get on your exam. Therefore, it’s best advised to stop studying an hour before bedtime, preferably at 9:00 p.m. or 10:00 p.m.

It’s also best that you make sure that you are getting nine to ten hours of sleep. Students that get only four or five hours of sleep are more likely to feel stress. Therefore, if you really want to relieve your stress, you should try getting enough sleep every day.

5. Listen to music.

Music is a great way to take your mind off of an assignment or test. Classical music is especially soothing. Listening to music can also you complete assignments. When I am trying to do my homework, I will often listen to classical music since it is not only soothing, but it also helps keep my mind focused. Unless you are the type of person who can’t listen to music when working, then I suggest listening to music to help relieve stress.

6. Try taking one course of interest.

When I was taking Calculus, I knew beforehand that the class would be very stressful since I had never had any experience with taking a Calculus course in high school. Therefore, since one of my interests was acting, I took a theater course right after my Calculus course in order to relieve any stress that I had from Calculus. I'm now thankful that I did this since when I was under a lot of stress from Calculus, going to my theater class helped relieve a lot of that stress since it was something that I was interested in and it kept my mind off of my Calculus course.

If you are taking a really hard course and can fit an extra class into your schedule, you should try taking at least one course that you find interesting or that features something that you enjoy, such as history, theater, or math. Whatever it is, if you know that it will help take your mind off of a difficult course, you should at least try it.

* * *

So, when you start to feel overwhelmed by the workload of college, you should practice some of these techniques in order to help make college less overwhelming. I know more than anyone how difficult college can be and how stress can take a toll on your life. However, if you follow the tips from above, you can avoid the harmful effects that stress can have on your health and start to enjoy college.

Cover Image Credit: Thought Catalog // Unsplash

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Finals Are Worse For Your Health Than The Flu

Recently, I have just been struggling.

From time to time we all have moments where things just don’t feel right.

Whether it be described as waking up on the wrong side of the bed, or, just not really feeling like yourself. The crux of it is you either just woke up, or never went to sleep, and even though every other day of the year you turn the coffee maker off before you the leave the house. This time you did not. Of course the coffee maker exploded, making a mess all over your kitchen.

Oh, and now your phone’s blowing up because all your roommates are mortified by this mess. There is a life lesson being taught in your guys’ group chat about turning the coffee machine off. These days happen. At this point, you know being twenty years old and all. These days are not news to me. They’re almost just a part of me.

Needless to say, the ‘I am a mess’ sort of bad day is something I am almost comfortable with. But recently, I have been having a different kind of off day. Just to clarify, by recently, I mean it happens once a quarter, every quarter. And by ‘different kind of off-day,' I really just mean an entirely off week.

I am a student, abiding by the quarter system, trying to get into graduate school.

And the quarterly off-week I have been getting has been during finals week. Granted, this is no surprise. With my luck I am surprised the haze does not hit me during midterms too. Yet and strangely enough, I have noticed this off-ness is particular to finals week.

I start to cue into my off-week with my body realizing that finals week is coming. Which usually is before I even do. From being awake — to having the strangest cravings at 2 a.m. Forgetting what it feels like to be rested and feeling mountains of stress in my shoulders is an accurate way to think about it. There are no active thoughts on my mind. Just a strong sense of urgency and an extremely tense body. Accommodated with sometimes, nothing yet to do.

It’s almost just subconscious stress.

The dead giveaway that I have reached the full swing of my off-week is a strong dissatisfaction for essentially everything I try to do.

At the end of a day, that probably consisted of 13 hours of running around and studying. It feels like I have done nothing. If I am not done, it feels like I have barely tried. This is probably the hallmark of what I am calling my ‘off-week’. I spend hours (and I really mean HOURS) writing the same paper. Hell, I sometimes spend hours writing the same paragraph.

Despite all the other things I have to do, I cannot seem to move on to doing something else. Because I still feel like the paper, or paragraph, is not perfect.

I have gotten a lot better at removing myself from these situations. They are toxic. But I am not great at it. It is hard when you reach a point of stress where you are so irrational. You are letting your own idea of your worth get caught up in a paragraph.

These are off weeks because I know that I am not perfect.

Something has got to be off if my mind’s under the impression that I can reach the unattainable, which is perfection.

I can’t.

I know I can’t.

And I also know, that I get a whole lot closer to producing I take to be flawless work, when I am not at the same time of writing, holding myself to impossible standards.

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