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Mental Health

Yes, I Have Anxiety — No, It Doesn’t Define Me

Anxiety. It’s something I’ve dealt with for longer than I’ve realized. It took infographics on social media for me to figure out that that’s what it was. Your heart feeling like it’s beating out of your chest, choking on your words, then having to take deep breaths because if you don’t you’ll burst into tears. At least, that’s what happens to me. It can show up differently in different people. The symptoms have evolved, eventually turning into appetite changes and insomnia. All things I’ve had to learn to manage and deal with. When someone thinks of anxiety, they think of someone who is very fidgety, has panic attacks, and just seems very nervous all of the time, but not everyone who has anxiety is like that. I know I’m not like that. If you took a look at me I don’t think you’d be able to tell unless I outright told you. Maybe the cracking of my knuckles every chance I get would give it away or the grinding of my teeth without even realizing it. Some habits are ones that I just can’t shake.

The first time I had a panic attack I was in the middle of playing a video game. I suddenly felt like I couldn’t breathe. I was focused on beating the graphic soldier on my tv but still felt my heartbeat rising. The next thing I knew, tears were coming down my face. I wasn’t bawling or anything, but I was definitely crying. It went away within a couple of minutes but I’ll never forget the feeling of dread yet surprise that something came over me so quickly. I couldn’t even figure out the trigger because there was none. I had been playing the game for weeks already so it’s not like the fighting in it got to me. I was simply sitting on my bed, looking at my tv, controller in my hands.

Recently, my anxiety has been affecting my appetite. I haven’t been eating as much as I did before. It’s also been causing me to worry a lot more. I just worry about everything now, even something as simple as a car ride. The thought of something bad happening, the sinking feeling in my stomach, I hate it. I hate that I have to deal with this when there are other people that never experience these feelings. I always have my to-do list in the back of my head, stressing about what I need to get done even if it’s just a couple of things. I’m always worrying about what’s going to happen, what’s happening, and what has happened. It is very tiring.

mental health signs on a fence
Photo by Dan Meyers from Unsplash

Of course, my anxiety is a part of me, since I deal with it every day, but it does not make me me. It is not a personality trait. It’s real. It’s here. But it doesn’t mean that it defines me. Despite those feelings of dread, I know I’m going to make it okay through the day. I know that I’m still a strong young woman. I’ve had to tell myself these things over time and I know they’re true. Yes, there are days where all I do is lay in my bed and overthink every possible thing in my life that I can. Yes, there are days where I can barely push myself to eat one meal a day. Yes, there are days where I don’t respond to any texts because I’m too busy worrying about things I shouldn’t be. The best part about this is that I’m not alone. I know I’m not the only one who experiences these feelings. I know I’m not the only one who deals with anxiety. I’m lucky enough to have a support system to lean on when I need it. I don’t always need to have it all together myself. If my legos get knocked down, I know my people will be there to put them back together.

A majority of the reason that I’ve been able to deal with my anxiety is tons of self-reflecting. My mind is always running and sometimes it’s about my own behavior. I’ve developed self-awareness of my symptoms over time which is what helped me understand and try to combat them. I recognize when something is going on in my body because of my anxiety. There are also some social media accounts dedicated to helping people with anxiety that I follow. Whether it be posting infographics about it or having check-ins on their story, it helps me. I know they help other people so maybe they can be beneficial to whoever reads this and is also dealing with anxiety.

Above all, know that there are other people out there who deal with anxiety as well. There are endless resources on the internet that can help! Or maybe you prefer talking to a friend? Maybe you use a creative outlet to combat those feelings? It’s important to have a resource or an outlet so you don’t get so overwhelmed by your own feelings. Sometimes you just need to binge-watch your favorite TV show and forget about life for a bit. It’s okay to take your time and do whatever helps.

Like I said before, I know I’m going to get through every bad day. I know I’m going to have plenty of good days to be thankful for. I love myself enough to know that I have my own back when I need it, and I have a support system to have it when I don’t. Even if I have anxiety, life is going to be good.

Alejandra Jimenez

Virginia Tech '24

Alejandra is a freshman at Virginia Tech. She enjoys watching TV shows, reading, and spending time with her friends and family.
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