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Mental Health

The Full, Unabridged Account of Living With Anxiety: Volume II

Hey everyone, your resident anxious gal again, here to talk some more about living life with anxiety disorders. This one won’t be as uplifting as my last piece on anxiety, but I hope y’all will still read this article and maybe even get something out of it! Today’s episode is brought to you by my own anxious thoughts and feelings for the past few weeks and some sweet reminders I’ve gotten from friends to help me keep going.

Since coming back to campus after Spring Break, my anxiety has been whooping my butt. Assignments, research papers, projects, clubs and being in a sorority are taking up the majority of my time and draining all my happy energy, leaving me anxious and exhausted at the end of every day. Which leads to crying—so, so, so much crying. I feel like all my work is consuming me, and I don’t have enough time to do any of it, let alone do it well and maintain good grades in my classes. Luckily, I have some amazing friends and an absolutely wonderful boyfriend who hug me when I cry and let me babble into their shoulders and get my tears and snot all over them without complaining. I’ve come to realize that crying isn’t a sign of weakness—it’s just an emotional response to overstimulation, and it’s okay.

As happens with so many freshmen in college, I’ve gained some weight. I’m not necessarily overweight for how tall I am, but looking at myself in the mirror or in photos taken of me has gotten harder over the past few months. For some people, gaining weight and looking different isn’t a big deal—for me, it’s huge. I’ve always had body image issues tied to how I view myself in comparison to other girls, especially my darling twin sister (who I adore wholeheartedly and who has never done anything to make me feel fat). She and I are built differently, her being more slender and me being somewhat fuller. With people already seeing us as a single entity, it’s always been very hard for me to like the way my body looks because it’s different and not as “conventionally nice” as hers. It also doesn’t help that I stress eat when I’m feeling anxious. After sharing my concerns with my boyfriend (who loooves the gym), he offered to help me get into better shape if that’s what I wanted, reminding me at least 17 times that he thinks I look beautiful just the way I am <3

Because of my recently-heightened anxiety, I’ve been considering going back to therapy. When the idea was first brought up to me, I was violently opposed to it—I didn’t want to go back to therapy because I thought I was “better," that I was “cured." Going back to therapy, for me, felt like I was regressing back to when I first got my diagnosis and needed therapy to literally keep me alive. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I was buying into the stereotype that people who go to therapy are weak and broken. First of all, who cares if you’re broken? We all are, in our own ways, and we keep going and we keep fighting because life is worth living. Secondly, having an anxiety disorder isn’t something that can be cured. Having anxiety means going through waves of feeling on top of the world for a while, then feeling like you’re being sucked down into the deepest abyss of the sea. I know that asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness, and I know that seeking guidance and allowing myself to feel my anxiety isn’t regression—it’s progress.

When all’s said and done, I am proud of myself. I work my butt off every damn day to make sure that everyone around me is okay, and I’m slowly realizing that I have to do the same for myself. Crying is cathartic, going to the gym is good for the mind and body, and seeing a therapist will (hopefully) help relieve some of my anxiety. I know that I’ll never be rid of my disorders, but I’m still learning every day that I am bigger than them, and that I will be okay.

So ends Volume II of my journey with anxiety. Writing about my struggles has proven to be relieving, so maybe these stories will become a regular part of my Her Campus repertoire. Thanks for sticking with me through another tale of woe—remember that you are important, you are loved, and you’ve totally got this.

St. Louis gal, Art History major and adamant fan, twin sister, Diet Coke fanatic, book lover, and avid supporter of flower power
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