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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Growing up I always heard people talk about having ‘really bad anxiety,’ and having it take away their control to function as they normally would. I never understood it, and honestly, I thought it was a myth. It’s almost like when people tell you a ghost story—you don’t believe them unless you experience a paranormal activity yourself first-hand. Anxiety was the same thing for me. I thought it was all in your head, and you could just ignore it or tell it to go away. It wasn’t until I experienced my first anxiety attack that I believed that it was real, and learned that the impacts it has on a person are permanent.

In March of 2021, I had my first anxiety attack. At the time I didn’t realize that I was extremely stressed out, nor did I realize that I was involved in a situation that was negatively impacting me as much as it was. I was working two jobs, in school full-time, involved in the community, and involved within the university. This might seem like a lot to manage at once, but I’m used to it since I’ve been doing it for a while. In fact, I have more on my plate now than I did at that time. Now, I’m working a third job, studying for the LSATs, and involved with the Multicultural Council. I have a much better control over my stress and anxiety now than I did at that time.

 What exactly triggered my anxiety? As I mentioned, I wasn’t aware of how stressed out I was. Now, believe it or not, I wasn’t stressed out by my busy schedule just like I’m not right now. I was involved in an extremely manipulative and controlling relationship that I had no idea was as bad as it was. Of course, no one realizes at first, it’s usually after the matter has finished that you think back to how bad it was.

It first started off as a friendship, quickly shifted to being one of the most petrifying situations I’ve ever been put into. I constantly feared this person and what their next move was. This absolutely consumed me.

So… back to my first anxiety attack. At the time, my stepmom and I went for a walk around the neighbourhood, like we normally would. Everything was normal until I completely lost my breath. I couldn’t breathe, and I couldn’t speak. My stepmom experiences bad anxiety herself, and so she knew exactly what to do. I sat on a nearby bench and focused on my breathing until I could calm myself down.

The next one I had was only a couple days later. The relationship I had with this person was work-related; however, they were no longer employed at the same establishment as I was at the time. But being there must’ve triggered some sort of fear, and so I had another anxiety attack. These attacks were extremely consistent for a couple of months because this person who is the source of it all, continued to find ways of contacting me, even ways of seeing me. I was so scared.

Finally, more people got involved in the situation and it started to fizzle out. My anxiety didn’t go away, but it was less extreme and occurred less frequently. I had not heard anything from this person for close to 6 months. But, about a couple months ago, they found another way to communicate with me…

Of course, I didn’t respond. But that still didn’t stop them. They changed their name on another social media platform and contacted me there. My stomach was killing me, I could’ve thrown up in those moments just because of how terrified I was. I couldn’t understand that even with as much time that went by, I was still on this person’s mind. I talked to a few people about it, and they stepped in once again, hopefully to end it once and for all.

 Again, my anxiety came back, and I was nervous to go to certain establishments. The situation is now completely under control, but I’m still left with minor anxiety attacks that consume me every time fear takes over me—even though it’s not related to that situation.

All in all, anxiety has taught me that there’s something not right going on in my life that needs to be addressed. It’s my body’s way of telling me “Hey… this isn’t okay. You need to reach out for help.” I let the stress and fear of this situation completely take over my mental state. If I had asked for help sooner, or even kept my eyes open earlier to any red flags, I might’ve been able to avoid the anxious feelings I get from time to time.

Now, I don’t think anxiety is something to feel ashamed of; I think the opposite. I think that anxiety is a way of knowing how bad circumstances must be dealt with and removed from your life as soon as possible, almost like an alarm. As much as I hate having anxiety, it really does help bring my attention to terrible situations I’ve been put into, and I now understand how important it is to reach out.

Olivia Stanco

UWindsor '23

Hello my name is Olivia! I hope you love reading my articles just as much as I love writing them.
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