What My Anxiety Taught Me About College

I’ve never cut myself before. I managed to make it past that phase in middle school. You know the one, where all the popular kids would cut themselves and me, being the outsider I generally find myself to be, would scan every ones wrists as we pass by in the hallways just to see who was considered the cool kid. At the time I just never saw the point – why would I want to inflict more pain on myself if I was already in pain? But, fast-forward 7 years and I’m in the middle of my sophomore year in college, in the happiest city in America, according to Oprah, and I’m trying to figure out how to cut myself with my dull scissors.

My anxiety has taken an uncontrollable turn. My whole life I have had the occasional panic attacks, mostly relating to my irrational fear of death and the afterlife, or lack of. But as I got more involved in my academics the panic attacks became more related to school. Which is how my world came crashing down about 4 weeks ago, the beginning of winter quarter. The stress of what I thought was to come with school overwhelmed me sending me to a psychiatrist back home – a place that usually brings on depression – almost every weekend.

So now the “anti-anxiety” pills aren’t working and it’s sending me into a deeper depression than I’ve ever been in. For someone who is so afraid of death I have never thought of death as such a great escape from it all. The most difficult thing is trying to figure out how to seriously injure myself without hurting others around me. If I do it while driving, someone in another car will inevitably be involved; if I “accidently” fall down the stairs, that won’t lead to enough injuries and just embarrassment. So the fact that I can rule these options out must mean I’m somewhat levelheaded. But how much longer will this levelheadedness last?

So this is where I’m left. Sitting in my room, listening to Alex Turner, trying to figure out how “cutting” works. The mere fact that I am unable to accomplish that brings on more depression and anxiety.

My only other solution? I drop out of school for a quarter. Move home, read all of the books that are on my list, spend time with my family, get back to writing, become the better surfer I’d always hope to be, and come back in March with a level head ready to switch majors to something that makes me excited about going to class. Because, that’s what college is – the time to explore the things you are interested in, something that has become forgotten in the years where everyone is rushing to graduate early and get a job that will make them rich.

Living with anxiety and panic attacks isn’t living; it’s attempting to survive.

And I am going to start living. I’m going to stop focusing on the need to graduate on time and start exploring the things that interest me in school while I have the opportunity. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

image – Flickr / chucknado

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