This is something I hardly talk about with people; only a few who are close to me really know about this. I don’t like talking about it because of the stigma mental health has in our society. I assume everyone is going to think I’m crazy or that there’s really nothing wrong with me, that it’s all in my head. I’m sharing my story now not to tell everyone about it but so that others who are going through the same thing – whether they may know it or not – are not alone.
In my senior year of high school, I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder, or GAD. Growing up I worried about everything you could imagine, and it was great to finally know what was wrong with me. I was in therapy for most of that school year, and it wasn’t the first – or last – time I would be. When I was in third grade, I was in therapy, however, I don’t really remember much of it. I am in therapy now at school; I have been going to the counseling center once a week since freshman year. I was also put on medication freshman year for my anxiety because I began to feel the physical symptoms that come along with it.
My anxiety now is much better than it was four years ago, but that doesn’t mean I’m still not effected by it. The transition from high school to college was difficult for me, especially because I commuted and didn’t have a great support system at school. I had people tell me I could go to them to talk about my problems, but once I did, they would turn me away because it would be too much for them to handle. I think that’s why I just stopped even mentioning it to others because I couldn’t handle feeling ashamed and I thought there was something wrong with me.
GAD means that my anxiety can start from really anything. I worry about the littlest things or something that’s completely out of my control. For the most part, I function like everyone else; my anxiety doesn’t keep me in bed or isolated from others, like I know some anxiety disorders can do. I have gotten better with letting things go and realizing that I’ve done all I can, but there are times when I feel like I’m drowning.
As senior year is coming to a close, the typical stress that comes with it is here. Jobs, grad school, moving back home, papers, projects, you name it. The last week or so my anxiety has gotten the best of me, and that’s not something I like to admit. I normally have control over it and can acknowledge the feeling and move past it. But I’ve had the feeling of an elephant sitting on my chest and that I should be doing something or be somewhere when I don’t necessarily have to. The feeling makes me want to do nothing at all because I’m letting my anxiety take control of my life.
I have been nicer to myself the last few days, taking time to myself and watching baseball or Netflix. With having anxiety comes the understanding of self-care. It’s knowing that sometimes you have to take some “me” time and making sure you’re not putting off your own well-being. I believe everyone should practice this, but it’s especially important for those with anxiety. One way I deal with my anxiety is going running. It gets me out of the apartment and gives me some time to myself where it’s just me, music, and my sneakers.
Going to therapy the last few weeks has been helping me, too, because I know my feelings are valid and it’s understandable to feel stressed and worried about the future. But I have to understand that I can only look at what’s happening now and not think about what might happen three weeks from now. I can’t have control over everything, so I have to keep control over what I can in my life.
My first reaction to my anxiety is to isolate myself up in my room but being alone with myself sometimes just makes it worse. I’ve been making myself sit downstairs with my roommates as a distraction and to be with others who I know care about me. There’s only about four weeks left of school, and I’m trying to make the best of it. I’m well ahead in my school work, been applying for jobs, and working on requirements for grad school. On the surface, there isn’t anything for me to worry about, but it’s me so I’ll find something to worry about.
To anyone who can relate to this post in any way: know that you are not alone and you are not crazy or weird or blowing things out of proportion. You just look at life through a different lens. Although it might seem hard at times, you can control your anxiety and don’t let your anxiety control you. You are stronger than you think, and you can do absolutely anything you set your mind to.