This is What It's Like to Be a College Student Living with Anxiety

This week, Her Campus Temple is focusing on shedding light on the different types of mental disorders, highlighting their significance, and trying to get more people to be comfortable with speaking out about their disorders. While this awareness is a great thing and has helped a lot of people struggling with their health disorders, society still has a ways to go. There’s a good amount of people who don’t take mental health seriously enough, and this causes people to hesitate to speak up or seek treatment. I’m not hesitating anymore. Here is my experience.

A common disorder that’s still debated is anxiety. Merriam-Webster defines anxiety as, “a fear or nervousness of what might happen but in reality it’s so much more.” 

Some people assume that anxiety is an excuse; that it’s easily treatable and can be tossed to the side. Some people commonly mistake anxiety for stress, and believe that they can use the same treatments they use for stress, for anxiety. Because of the varying types and symptoms of anxiety, some people also assume that if you aren’t hyperventilating or ready to have a breakdown, then your anxiety isn’t a big concern. Those who don’t experience anxiety don’t understand that it can be as simple and internal as a constant, uneasy feeling that slowly consumes your mind and takes control.

Anxiety is not something that’s “all in your head” or “just another word for stress”, like some people try to define it as. It’s an exhausting weight you carry and get insecure about. For college students, anxiety can be a real battle since we can’t always control it or understand what triggers it, since literally everything about college is stressful. 

At Temple University, were supposed to be embracing these four years as the best “years of our lives,” but when our anxiety kicks in, it holds us back from so much. It can stop us from going on that date, or making ourselves known, or finishing that amazing project we’ve been working on for so long, etc. It’s also complex because it can go in many directions and cause different types of reactions.

These plague students with anxiety almost daily:

  • Feeling uneasy at times when walking through the Bell Tower or past large crowds of people.
  • The stomach-dropping feeling when your professor announces that the majority of the class did poorly on an exam and you immediately assume you were one of those students.
  • Being hesitant to speak up.
  • A voice inside your head that constantly makes you unsure about things.
  • Wanting things to be perfect but unsure of how to reach perfection.
  • Assumptions, assumptions, assumptions.
  • Debating whether or not something is good enough.
  • That aching feeling that something bad is about to happen, even when your day has been great.
  • Being terrified to make a simple phone call.
  • Questioning almost every action you do and what its effect will be.
  • Staying silent because you’re scared to do otherwise.

The list can go on. The difficult thing about anxiety is some days these things won’t trigger it. Something as benign as trying to make a conversation with a friend can wind up being the most terrifying thing.

Yet the next day you’ll find that making a conversation is easy and something else will trigger your anxiety. Most of the time when this happens, we usually seek out our closest friends or those who deal with anxiety. Many sites that talk about anxiety suggest this as a way to heal or relax.

As someone who suffers with terrible general anxiety and social anxiety, it is incredibly important to have the courage to speak up and tell people what’s going on. It isn’t easy at all, but it makes a difference when you alert others and you and others slowly start to have a better understanding of what causes your anxiety.

Things such as exercising, taking a short break from assignments, being in the company of loved ones, treating yourself once in awhile, and seeing a therapist are all effective ways to lower your level of anxiety.

For further guidance, thankfully there are sites like The National Institute of Health that target anxiety and you can figure out a lot of things such as causes, types, treatments, and preventions. 

As mental health week at Her Campus Temple begins, I encourage all of my friends who struggle with anxiety or other types of mental disorders to fight on and know you are so much stronger than you give yourself credit for. Your mental health matters, you matter, and you deserve the proper treatment and care.