You're Not The Only One
Part 1 of 2 Why You? Why Me?
“I can’t do this.”
“I don’t feel like going to class today.”
These are what a college student who battles with their mental health might feel or think. Anxiety within college students is real, and I am a student who struggles with anxiety myself. I will be sharing my story with you and what treatments have and have not worked for me as well. A lot of students just brush off these feelings and let their mental health battle go under-treated. When it comes to anxiety, it can take a toll on your daily life and can potentially take over your life.
Everyone deserves a voice and a reason to be heard. Do not be afraid to speak up about your mental health and your battles with it. If we all speak up and share our battles with mental health, we can help each other overcome those feelings of anxiety. To help me speak up and battle my mental health, I sought out 3 out of 4 (although there are many more) types of treatments for my battle with anxiety.
Can We Fight?
On August 21st, 2020, I was diagnosed with severe anxiety. This was when COVID-19 had started. Although, I suspected that I had anxiety prior to the pandemic due to some events that I went through myself. When I was a sophomore in high school, my older sister went to the hospital; she was there from October 2018 to December 2018. It was such a difficult time for me because she is my best friend and has always helped me with my schoolwork or anything that I needed help with. I spent most of my time with her in the hospital. Despite all of that, I felt alone and helpless, but I always kept quiet about it.
As I mentioned before, anxiety can be underrated, under-treated, and left undiagnosed. In my culture, mental health doesn’t really exist. I never believed that I could have anxiety until it affected my life, physically and mentally. SAMHSA states, “One in five adults struggle with mental illness.” This shows how important mental health is. Students who struggle with anxiety can experience restlessness, feeling weak/tired, and hyperventilation. This becomes difficult for students to complete simple tasks such as getting out of bed in the morning, attending class, and even more. For some students, therapy can be difficult to make time for and for others, to seek out.
My battle with anxiety has impacted my education and my daily life tremendously. It has reduced my chances of achieving academically. I am not proud of what my college transcript looks like, which has caused me to lose motivation to keep going with my classes that I get to the point where I am too afraid or too anxious to attend. I fell behind in school. My grades started to drop. I used to be a straight A student, then I went from A’s to B’s, and then C’s to F’s. Once I reached college, those F’s turned into W’s. I was so afraid of my GPA dropping that I withdrew from courses to avoid a failing grade.
Anxiety comes with many different types of symptoms that all vary from person to person, for example, one may feel either weak or restless. Another may feel insomnia and even have small panic attacks. Approx. 44% of college students have reported to have symptoms with anxiety, so if you ever are feeling anxious, that is okay! It is natural to feel that way. You’re not the only one.
The good part about all of this is that all of these symptoms can be treated. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy that can be used to treat those with anxiety. Discovery Mood defines CBT as, “ a combination of interventions such as worry exposure, applied-relaxation, psychoeducation, cognitive restructuring and problem-solving skills to educate the individual about their triggers and symptoms and then uses behavioral modifications in order to release their irrational thoughts and anxiety triggers.” Personally, I tried out therapy but it did not work out for me; I did not feel comfortable so I decided to try out something different and at home. Bullet Journaling is a coping mechanism that I tried out that has helped me. I am not exactly the best at drawing but bullet journaling helps me create a safe space for my thoughts and feelings. (Insert Photo!) Now, it may not be for everyone but it is definitely a technique that can be tried out.
As generations go by, the pressure on these student’s mental health has become more and more intense. Julie, from the NY Times has stated that, “young adults are increasingly faced with negotiating ‘America’s culture of hyper achievement’ and ‘the pressure to be effortlessly perfect.” My parents have always put that pressure into my mind saying, “You need to come out on top. You have to be better.” Everything seemed like a competition to me, because of the pressure, I started to feel alone and “locked up.” Luckily, I got my first job at Tommy Hilfiger to help fight th