It all began when I was a freshman in college. I was quiet and shy and horrible at making new friends. My parents had just left me in Southern Missouri while they drove back to Nebraska. I wouldn’t see them until Thanksgiving. My heart started racing, and since that moment, it rarely stops.
I remember my first panic attack so vividly. I was getting dressed to go to my algebra class and my heart started beating fast. I couldn’t catch my breath and I was sweating, yet my skin was cold. My teeth were chattering and my hands were shaking. I had to sit down becuase my body couldn’t handle it. I had never experienced anything like it previous to this moment, and I was terrified.
These panic attacks consistently continued throughout my first year at school. I didn’t tell anyone, because I was embarrassed. I just kept it to myself, and kept on with my day to day routine. Wake up, get dressed, eat breakfast, panic attack, go to classes, eat lunch, panic attack, softball practice, panic attack, homework, shower, sleep, repeat. It went on for months before I told anyone.
I spent the last year at home. My anxiety hasn’t been as severe, but I have been entirely safe and secure. I had very little to worry about and my nerves responded accordingly. But still, I overthink, am constantly paranoid, and I am irrationally afraid of small things like initiating conversations, asking for help, or confronting any issues I have. The most irritating aspect of my anxiety is that I know how I should be acting but I can’t. I cannot explain how frustrating it is to know that I should text my boyfriend or best friend or mom if I am struggling, but I can’t. My anxiety burns me alive and I watch myself drown becuase I am exceptionally nervous about every little thing that is normal behavior for everyone around me.
It is so much easier to deal with anxiety when the people around me know what I am going through. During my freshman year of college, I had two amazing best friends who understood and respected what I was dealing with. They were a huge blessing when it got rough, and I can’t thank them enough. Unfortunately, I don’t know how to tell people my situation in the current moment. I don’t know how people will handle it, and that unknown is an area that terrifies me. My parents and majority of my close friends have no idea what I deal with on a day-to-day basis.
I have been in New York for a little over a week now, and my anxiety and panic attacks are firm again. Being 22 hours from every single human I love is absolutely terrifying. I don’t sleep or eat well. This transition is difficult, and I’m not handling it well. I am not doing a great job at throwing myself out into the social world here. I keep to myself for the most part, and have made very few friends. Only time will tell where I go from here, but home is not an option.
If anyone has any advice on how they cope with their anxiety, please let me know. Writing and running only do so much for me. At the end of the day, I still lay vacant in my bed, overthinking everything I should have probably done, and all I should have avoided. It’s eating me, and I need out.