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5 Messages for My Fellow Anxious Students Starting College


Starting college can be extremely daunting to anyone, never mind someone who is battling a mental illness. You could be moving to a new city and moving in with other students or you could just have tiring commute ahead of you every morning. This is hard enough for your average person, but for someone like myself who struggles with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), this is terrifying.

I feel like I shouldn’t be as nervous because I have actually done this all before, but I feel like it’s the first time all over again. I went to college back in 2015 to study nursing, but left at the end of my first year as I was really struggling with it all. The placements, the lectures, the seminars and the constant pressure I put on myself thinking I wasn’t good enough consumed me daily. I felt like I was suffocating.

I’m hoping this time it will be different. I’m hoping it will be different because I feel like this is actually what I want to do. I want to help people like me. I will not let this horrible feeling of dread and fear control my life anymore, and I will not let it control anyone else’s either. It is going to be hard, it’s going to be draining, but I believe on the other side of this fear and dread is something good. Something better than I ever imagined. I have the potential to do great things and I will no longer let it speak louder than my own voice. I am going to run at it with both hands until it’s nothing but meaningless words. I will prove to myself and anyone else who has ever doubted me that I can do this and I will do this.

This time next month I will be a student studying psychology, counseling and psychotherapy. People who know me and know I struggle with anxiety always look at me a little strange when they know what I am going to study. I believe I will be able to support people in ways a counselor who doesn’t know what a panic attack feels like, would ever be able to do.

I may need a little extra support from my mentor, but that doesn’t mean I can’t do as much a good job as someone who doesn’t struggle themselves.

For anyone who is starting university or college soon, I have five things to say.

1. You are extremely strong for getting this far and you should be immensely proud of yourself.

2. You can do this! I believe all you have to do is push through the fear and get to happiness on the other side.

3. These things you are feeling right now — the doubting, the fear, the dread? Those are all just feelings. Imagine what you could accomplish if you started to feel excited, proud and actually ready to take on the challenge?

4. Be prepared but don’t over-prepare. Don’t procrastinate on what ifs, just prepare for what is realistic.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.

Everything you have ever wanted and longed for is on the other side of fear. Go and get it.

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Thinkstock photo via Jacob Ammentorp Lund