We all know the academic stresses of being a college student. There’s the possibility of failing exams, all nighters, and that ten-page paper whose deadline is quickly approaching. We don’t all know the stresses of real anxiety.
For people like me, whose anxiety hit them like an oncoming train in college, you know what I mean when I say that it was one of the worst things that could’ve ever happened.
Barely halfway into my freshman year, anxiety crept up on me and took away everything that made me who I was. I lived in irrational fear of the unknown, constant confusion about what was happening to me, and general unhappiness. I used to be the happy, carefree person who never thought twice about what they did. I was invincible.
Because of my anxiety, I am no longer that carefree girl.
One catalyst moment turned into months and months of turning down invitations to go to parties, skipping class, and once a week breakdowns that would leave me crying in my bed, kicking myself because I wasn’t normal. I didn’t know who I was anymore, and even if I miraculously woke up without anxiety the next morning, I wouldn’t even know how to be the person that I was before.
I spent the rest of my freshman year crawling to the finish line. My grades had suffered, but I managed to pull them up and I even enjoyed myself in between then. But just when I thought I was healing, my anxiety said “absolutely not”. Cue panic attack.
Anxiety can be extremely debilitating, and can cause so many others like me to believe that there is something wrong with them. No, you’re not crazy. You shouldn’t “get over it”. It’s not your fault that you have anxiety. Just like an illness such as diabetes, anxiety is one and the same when it comes to legitimacy.
So when you need to sit in your dorm on a Friday night because you can’t fathom the thought of drinking in a cramped basement of a house party, don’t apologize. When your friends tell you that you’re lame because they don’t understand how you feel, brush it off. Maybe they really don’t understand, but more often than not, they don’t understand because you haven’t told them about how you really feel.
You’re not weak because you had to miss out on things. I spent way too much time putting myself down because I believed I was weak, and it was no fun. Look back at what you’ve been put through, and give yourself some credit. College is already hard enough without a mental illness.
It’s not an easy recovery, and some days, I feel like it’ll never get better, but I’m living with it and learning how to deal with it. In retrospect, I’m pretty damn tough. I bet you are too.