Today, we’re going to be talking about something that I’ve gone through and that I’m sure many of you have also gone through. Anxiety. This is not really a laughing matter, because this is something that can completely consume you. For any of you who know what it’s like to have an anxiety attack, it’s horrible. You shut down. You feel everything and nothing, all at once. However, I do believe that there are SO many methods to overcoming anxiety and taking control. I am going to share just a few of those with you, today. But first, story time.
In my young years, I didn’t really suffer from anxiety attacks, and, honestly, I wasn’t really an anxious person. It wasn’t until sometime in the tenth grade that I suffered from my first anxiety attack. I remember arguing with a love interest of mine and things were getting very heated. We were both saying things that we didn’t mean, and it was horrible. All of that teenage angst was coming out and, looking back now, it just wasn’t cute.
I happened to be in the middle of a play rehearsal at school, but I couldn’t just not respond. I mean, I had a lot of things to say and I wanted to say them. I didn’t care about that play, at that moment. I remember people asking me, “What’s wrong?” But I just stared. I didn’t want to tell them what was going on. I didn’t want to talk. I just wanted to keep texting. So, I buried my face in my phone.
The argument persisted until we reached one of my lines in the play and my director caught me texting. Now, for any of you that have done theater in high school or elsewhere, you know that this is such a crime. She yelled, “Angel! It’s your line!”
I was in so much frustration. I felt trapped. I couldn’t ignore my director. The play needed me. So, I did what any rational person would do in that situation. I walked over to the edge of the stage and chucked my phone as far into the audience as I possibly could. I continued the scene and read my line. I only thought about what I would’ve said, in response, to the last text message, but I forced my anxiety away, momentarily. It was possibly one of the most difficult things that I ever did in high school, because I couldn’t just let go of my conversation,
Later, I discovered that, somehow, my phone survived its fatal crash. I didn’t respond to the text even then. Like Idina Menzel, I chose to let it go. (Sorry about that one.) However, that marked a new phase in my life. More and more things made me anxious, after that day.
It got worse in college. Often times, I found that situations with all of these strangers that I called “friends” made me extremely anxious. I’d just lie in bed and cry and remain silent for hours at a time. I didn’t want to ask for help. I didn’t want to do anything. But, at the same time, I really did want things to change. I wanted help. I didn’t know how to ask for it.
Also, as a disclaimer, I’d like to mention that I am possibly one of the most extroverted people ever. I don’t think that there is an ounce of introverted-ness inside of me. I feed off the energy of being around multiple people. However, that doesn’t make me any less of an anxious person. In fact, sometimes, it turns into a vicious cycle. Large groups give me energy, but when I am anxious, I don’t want to be around them. However, at the same time, I really do want to be around people, so that way I can feel better. It’s kind of scary to think about.
However, above all of this, I’ve learned quite a few things, in regards to my anxiety, from some of the counselors at the Office of Counseling and Wellness, here at Ithaca College. These are just a few things that I’ve learned from my visits to the center, which is completely free for Ithaca College students. Some are also mine. I bet that you can tell which ones are which.
- Sometimes, it’s only hypothetical. If you are anything like me, you get anxious because you think things might be going on or might happen. I have always been the type of person that, when greeted with fortune and good things, I always think, “Well, what bad thing is going to happen to balance this all out?” However, that is not always the case! Sometimes, it is all in your head and you have to separate the hypotheticals from reality. It can be really hard, but just take a moment and try it.
- Breathe in and breathe out. No, I don’t think that you’ve been holding your breath this entire time. However, I noticed that when I am going through an anxiety attack, I forget to breathe. I end up holding my breath for far longer than I thought I had. So, remember, to steady your breathing and try to relax. It’s more important than you think. I even, sometimes, find listening to relaxing music or just music that I like, while doing this, helps.
- Best friends are for life. If you don’t have a best friend that you are comfortable sharing anything with, I highly recommend searching for one. I have a few best friends that I know that I can just break down in front of, and I know they won’t judge me for the next ten years, even if I’m crying for no apparent reason. I wouldn’t get by without the help of my best friends. (That was almost a Beatles quote and, no, I don’t mean drugs.) This isn’t to say that you should depend on others, but I think that it’s important to have someone who you feel comfortable talking to. It can be pretty helpful.
- Do them squats. I’m not saying this because I think you need to work on your butt. However, if you want to work on it, awesome! Butts are awesome! But, in all seriousness, exercise is so important when dealing with anxiety. I’m no scientist, but I’m pretty sure exercise is super healthy and helps with anxiety tremendously. I may not go to the gym too often, but, when I do, all the stressors seem a little less important, even if it’s only for a short amount of time. So, do those squats. Work that treadmill. You got this.
- Cut people out. This next one can be very had for some people. I know that I’ve struggled with this tremendously. But, if there are people in your life that make you anxious, do this. Cut. Them. Out. It’s so important to take care of yourself. Please remember that no one is worth your happiness. You are so important. Cutting people out is sometimes necessary for you to remain healthy and that’s okay. Don’t feel bad. You may just find that you’re the happiest that you’ve been in a very long time.
- Scream and cry. I recommend that you do this in the middle of the night. Sometimes, I just need to let it all out. So, I go outside and yell at the top of my lungs. And, honestly, it feels so rejuvenating. I feel like a brand new person. I cry. I scream. I stomp the ground. It’s okay. Just try to do it alone. This also works in your room, but make sure it’s not during quiet hours.
- You don’t have diarrhea at Barnes and Noble. Remember this last one. If you’re a Mean Girls fan like myself, you know that Karen told everyone when Gretchen got diarrhea at Barnes and Noble. Did you get diarrhea at a public place? No? Awesome! You are slaying life! You haven’t completely failed! I am proud of you! Be proud of you, too! This thought always work for me, and I don’t exactly know why. I hope that it works for you, too. Unless, you did get diarrhea at Barnes and Noble. In which case, I am so sorry. My thoughts are with you.
But yeah. Those are some tips for dealing with some of your anxiety. They work for me, and I hope that you find some of them useful. Remember, take care of yourself and keep loving yourself. Your anxiety will pass, so stay strong. In the mean time, if you need, visit the Office of Counseling and Wellness. They are super helpful. I have used them many times, until I became comfortable dealing with my anxiety by myself.
Take a breath. You can do this. I believe in you.