When Being a Prepared Student Is Really Anxiety in Disguise


I have always been the prepared one — maybe even too prepared:

The girl who double checked her school supply list before the first day to make sure she had everything just right.

The girl who analyzed project and assignment rubrics extensively to make sure the submitted work was perfection.

The girl who spent at least double the time the average student did preparing for a test, making sure not a single fact was overlooked.

The girl who never settled.

The girl who was never satisfied.

The girl who never felt “good” was “good enough.”

The girl who didn’t realize this push for perfection was more than just being a “good student, an overachiever.”

The girl who had normalized excessive anxiety and stress for far too long.

The girl who did not realize the damage excessive perfectionism and unrealistic self-set expectations can cause until it was far too late.

The anxiety became overwhelming. Unbearable. All-consuming.

The idea of not being “enough” popped into my head.

The average person may get that idea in their head from time to time, then let it go … but I could not.

The little idea turned into a fear.

Am I not good enough? Am I not trying hard enough? Is my best effort not going to get me anywhere? Am I going to be a complete failure?

The little thought escalated into an obsession. Soon, all I could see was the possibility of failure. It was everywhere. It haunted me constantly. It deprived me of my sleep. It broke me down until others could barely recognize me.

It took away my ability to see any future for myself.

It sent me into a major depression, stripped me of my personality and my happiness. It made me ill.

Nothing had prepared me for an illness which made me feel worthless.

Nothing had prepared me for an illness which made me feel like such a burden.

Nothing had prepared me for an illness which made me convinced suicide was the answer.

Nothing had prepared me for dealing with depression.

Four years ago, I thought I would be graduating this May, prepared for the adult world after four years of an amazing college experience. I never imagined I would take a semester off for depression. I never imagined I would take yet another semester off for full-blown mania. I never imagined I would be mentally ill.

College is meant to be an opportunity for growth, self-discovery and new experiences. I have grown, but I still have a lot of recovering to do to become my personal best.

I have discovered myself, but only after tearing myself down through anxiety and depression.

I have had new experiences which have shaped my values and future goals, but they are not the type of experiences I would wish upon anyone.

College has shaped me, but not in a way I could ever have prepared myself for.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741.

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Thinkstock photo via photodeti

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