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What My Typical Day Looks Like as a College Student With Anxiety

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9 a.m.

My first alarm goes off. I have probably lay awake well into the early morning hours the night before and waking up is difficult. I now have two hours to shower, get ready and make it to my first class of the day. I roll over in bed.

9:15 a.m. 

My second alarm goes off. I roll over again.

9:30 a.m.

My third alarm goes off and on a good day, I will sit up in bed for a few minutes, attempting to work up the courage to get up and out.

9:45 a.m.

My fourth alarm goes off. On a good day, I’ll already have made it out of bed. On a bad day, I’ll finally drag myself to my feet. Thoughts of homework assignments I haven’t completed yet and my ever-growing list of to-do items swirl around again and again in my head and I try to push these thoughts away. I’ll start playing YouTube videos on my laptop just for the sake of background noise, since I’ve found too much silence in the morning will usually set off particularly strong anxious thoughts and feelings that will stay with me for the rest of the day. Every day is a learning process.

9:55 a.m.

I finally make it to the shower and end up rushing to finish my morning routine in order to leave on time for class.

10:45 a.m.

On a good day, I’ll leave for campus and make it there by the time class starts. On a less than good day, I’ll be 10 to 15 minutes late to class after finding different things throughout the morning to worry about and attempt to fix. On a bad day, after I’ve gotten ready and am about to leave the house, I’ll sit on the end of the bed with my head in my hands and my heart in my throat and think, Maybe I can make it to my noon class…

1 p.m.

After reaching my first break in the day between classes, I’ll generally find something to eat. On a good day, I’ll order something in the food court without a problem. On a bad day, I’ll stumble over my words a little at the front of the line and think about it for the rest of the day.

3 p.m.

During my last class of the day, I’ll try to pay attention while also hoping my professor doesn’t directly ask me a question or ask us to get into groups for an assignment. It’s not that I don’t know the answer or don’t think I’ll find a group. It’s the constant worry I’m going to slip up and people are going to notice. And that’s the last thing I want. On a particularly bad day, I’ll sit in class as feelings of unexplained dread build up in my chest, before I’ll eventually have to excuse myself from the classroom. I’ll wander the building, looking for an empty bathroom, before locking myself in a stall in order to calm myself back down before I can attempt to return to class.

4 p.m.

My last class ends and I go to leave campus. On a good day, I’ll go home and talk about something funny a professor or classmate did and I’ll make some dinner and watch Netflix. Most days, I’ll sit in my car a few extra minutes before leaving campus, feeling like I’m in a safe place for the first time since leaving the house. I’ll obsess over every little social interaction I had during that day, go over what I did wrong and how stupid, stupid, stupid I am for existing this way. I’ll try not to cry, try not to start hyperventilating and usually fail. I’ll hate myself for crying for no reason.

4:15 p.m.

I arrive home. If someone else is home, I’ll have pulled it together by now, because there’s nothing anyone can do to fix this and I don’t want anyone to worry. I don’t want my irrational thoughts to be a burden to others. If I’m home alone, I’ll crumple into a ball on the bed, exhausted from simply existing.

And tomorrow I’ll do it again. And again. Reveling in the good days. Trying to learn from the bad days. Because for now, that’s all I can do.

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Thinkstock photo via Connel_Design.

Originally published: March 8, 2017
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