I always think that talking about anxiety openly is such an awkward thing, but I guess that’s just my anxiety about anxiety…ha. I’d like to let you know that this is quite the personal thing to write about, but I wanted to in the hope that if you’re reading this as a sufferer, it could kinda help? And also as a little tap on the back with how far I’ve come personally since starting university.
Moving to University, I knew before I even got here, would be a factor to either ‘make or break’ my anxiety. The build up to moving away from home was a very scary and torturing time for my mind as I was terrified of the idea of moving to a new place, diving head first into such a social situation. All I could think of was all these new people meeting me and judging me, and that was a very VERY scary thing, so much so I nearly deferred my application a few months before starting. But I didn’t want university to be yet another thing that I had put off and not tried because of my anxiety scaring me into thinking it could be something that would damage me. And I think that’s an important thing to always keep in mind; no one has ever died from anxiety or a panic attack or such… it’s scary yes, but fear is nothing more than an emotion and it will come and go.
Being aware of the physical sides to anxiety and not just the mental has been really important in my improvement. I’ve started to recognise my anxious behaviour when put into situations I don’t like and these range from racing thoughts, indecision, exhilarated breathing, and sweating palms, as well as a sick feeling in the bottom of my stomach. These are all highly individual, some people even experience stomaches and backaches etc, but beginning to notice what happens to in my body when I’m anxious has helped me to discover what particular things make me anxious and even if I can’t quite pin point it exactly, it all just helps me understand my own body and slow down and breathe.
Personally, my anxiety isn’t centred around major fatal events, but instead smaller, everyday activities. Choosing what to wear, from simply just walking into a room, to buying a gift, it can all be very overwhelming, and I become quite obsessed with finding the perfect solution about how to go about something. I can easily exhaust my own brain in a matter of seconds by overthinking an issue that isn’t even really a problem until I have compared, checked and considered all options.
Getting to know my own anxiety has been the key to help me unlock it. Becoming educated about my own anxiety disorder has helped me a lot, as now I understand why I do the things I do, I know what the symptoms are because I can spot them in my own life. I feel like it all started to get better from understanding myself a lot more. I used to gloss over things I did that concerned me and didn’t tune into how my body reacted to stress because I didn’t want to provoke those feelings of anxiety. While it has been difficult to face, it’s almost a relief to understand how anxiety impacts me from day to day. The more awareness I develop the less often I find myself sucked down into the vortex, and closing myself off from people and things I like to do. Because that was always my main struggle with anxiety; inside I was a very sociable, outgoing and bubbly person, but that personality and life I desired to put myself out there, make lots of friends, and do so many new things was shadowed by my fear and anxiety. It’s actually so messed up when you think about it, a whole battle with yourself, your mind. But now I have shown myself that pushing myself out there, trying new things, and taking that risk is NOT a bad or scary thing. If it doesn’t turn out how I wanted?… well that’s just a lesson learnt and something to carry forward.
Coming to University has been the biggest lesson because it has truly shown me that you really only get out of life what you put into it, like my Dad always said. And without sounding very clique, this life is short and every day is something precious. For me, it’s now all about saying yes to more and not letting the fear of what could happen make nothing happen.