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Well, Hello Anxiety

I’ve always been cautious. I insisted on learning how to ride a bike in the grass because it was softer to fall on. I always turned in my homework on time. I wouldn’t go too fast on a snowmobile. I didn’t even get my driver’s license until I was nearly 18 (which is unusual in the rural town I’m from). I didn’t drink at a party until I turned 21. Freshman year of college I began to notice that my cautiousness had evolved into something far, far worse. Anxiety.

I’d go dress shopping for a wedding and after three unflattering dresses, my heart would beat as fast as if I had just run the mile in gym. My breathing would become difficult, reminding me of the fish I had caught when I was ten stuck on the hook, gills struggling for air, but while the fish was concerned for its life, I was simply trying to find a dress.

If the panic attacks weren’t enough, I began to imagine the “worst-case-scenario” every time I left my house or apartment. I’d check five or more times for my key, and occasionally would run back to the door a few times to double (or triple)-check that I had locked it.

Before bed would be the worst. I’d know that I’d need to be home much earlier than my “bedtime” because there were things I’d need to do. I’d make sure the gas stove and oven were turned off (even if I hadn’t used them that day), and I’d check to make sure the refrigerator door was shut so all my food didn’t spoil. After I lay in bed for a few minutes, I’d remind myself that “yes, the doors are locked, the stove is off, the windows are barred.” It didn’t help. I had to look again. After checking everything over once or twice, I’d finally lay in bed and check ten or so times that my three alarms on three different devices were all set for class or work the next morning. I’d wake several times throughout the night, wondering, hoping, praying, that I would wake up on time for work and that I would not be fired the next day.

My relationships with people are difficult. When I get panicked I lash out at the people close to me, especially my parents and boyfriend. Luckily, they are all patient when I break down, when I sob, when I tell them through scattered breaths that I just need to be alone for a minute or when I collapse into their arms.

School is back in session, and I am working on new ways to ease my anxiety. I jog, lift weights, go for walks, light candles, and take time for myself. I still need to check locked doors and alarms, but I’m working through it, and I have a damn good support system to do it with.

Originally, I was going to make this an anonymous article, but I decided that I’d rather be open with readers in case they are looking for someone to share their own experiences with. If you are struggling with anxiety or depression (or anything for that matter) please SEEK HELP! There are resources on campus to help you. Check out CAPS or UHS.

Image courtesy of Corinne Brown

Linguistics and Cognitive Science Major at the best school in the land!
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