My throat closes up. There’s pain in my stomach and in my chest. I suddenly feel like the temperature has soared, beads of sweat are already starting to form on my skin.
My mind is racing and no matter how hard I try, I can’t slow it down. Breathing isn’t as easy as it was a minute ago.
If these feelings sound familiar, then you probably know what it’s like to have anxiety. Specifically, you know what it’s like to have an anxiety attack.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., and affects 40 million adults.
I am one of those 40 million adults. I’ve had anxiety since I was in elementary school, and it wasn’t until my first year in college that I realized anxiety was the cause of other problems.
It’s Mental Health Awareness Week, and anxiety is a real problem, especially for college students.
According to a survey conducted by the American Psychological Association (APA) that was directed towards counseling center directors on college campuses, anxiety was a top concern for 41.6 percent of students.
There are different types of anxiety. While there are some common symptoms that many people experience, everyone is different in how they express and handle it.
For example, my anxiety attacks are mostly silent. Everything is happening in my head, and even though I can feel the anxiety take over my body, I’m usually able to keep everything inside.
There have been times when my body can’t seem to hold itself up. I have the typical heavy breathing that most people think of when they hear the phrase “anxiety attack.”
Anxiety has affected my life in many ways. It gave me crippling insecurities when I was in middle and high school. It has affected my work performance and how I act in social settings.
When I make a mistake, I go over it again and again in my head, thinking about what I could’ve done instead. When someone is angry with me, I won’t stop thinking about it for hours. Even leaving class to use the bathroom can trigger some anxiety.
I write this not for pity or anything like that. It’s important that people understand anxiety and how it affects people.
People who don’t have anxiety, or just experience the normal anxiety that comes with everyday life, may think a quiet person is rude or unresponsive, when in reality they may have some form of an anxiety disorder.
I want other people with anxiety to know that they aren’t alone. If you want to seek help, then you should be able to do that without feeling embarrassed or ashamed. You should be able to tell people you have anxiety without being told you are overreacting.
Taking care of your mental health is just as important as your physical health. Do things that you’ll know will help you relax and be revitalized for whatever is next.
Don’t feel guilty for taking time for yourself. Everyone needs it, not just those with mental illnesses. Self-love is so important, no matter who you are.
If you feel like you need help or medication, then don’t feel ashamed to reach out to a professional, that’s what they’re there for.
You are not a burden. Talk to a close friend or family member if you don’t want to talk to a stranger about it. Do what’s best for you.
Just remember that you are worth something and you are still whole, no matter what. Struggling with mental health doesn’t make you of any less worth than anyone else.