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Going to college and away from everything you’ve ever known is stressful. For someone with anxiety, like me, it can feel even more overwhelming and challenging.

My anxiety began when I was fifteen years old, after my uncle’s suicide.  I felt like this intense anxiety was weighing down on my shoulders every day. Eventually I pushed it back until I convinced myself it didn’t exist .  I thought I stopped my anxiety.  I was “back to normal” for about a year and a half.  But this February, I was diagnosed with Syncope.  This means that I faint randomly.  Despite the many tests the doctors ran, they could not find any cause for my condition.  There was no explanation for why it happened to me.  I felt like I had lost control of my body and I was scared.  As I approached graduation, the idea of moving to college three hours away from my family and “safe zone” caused my anxiety to come rushing back.

Change, not being in control, and large groups of people have always been the main triggers of my anxiety. I was moving to a college with 34,000 students and I only knew four people.   I was terrified and with my diagnosis, I was scared I wasn’t going to be safe.  As the big move got closer and closer, my anxiety got worse. Anxious thoughts brought on restless nights.  I even considered staying home and not branching out on my own.  I was lost in a maze of anxious darkness for a while, but then I saw the light.

My best friend Anna was that light.  She and I have been close for seven years now and she has been my rock.  As someone who is surviving with depression and anxiety herself, Anna knew exactly how to help me. She reminded me that even though I didn’t think I would be able to move beyond my uncle’s passing, I did. She reminded me that I am strong.  She told me  that no mental illness can define my future.  She helped me see that I was scared of my life changing and I was scared of my anxiety but that didn’t mean I was going to let that fear control me and what I want for my future.

Since I started college, I am better at at facing my anxiety.  Yet, controlling it is still a huge part of my life.  Here are some tips to stay calm when you feel anxious or like your life is out of control, they work for me:

Take a Deep Breath  I know this sounds cliché, but it does help.

Think Positively Believe me, negative thoughts only increase anxiety.

Make Lists of Your Anxiety Triggers For example, I know my anxiety worsens when I am in a crowded place  and now I steer clear of those places on campus.

Talk About It  I had Anna to help me.  Talking with her helped me see that I am never alone.  There are many resources on college campuses and loved ones around you to listen, not matter what.

Finally, remember this: Your Anxiety Can Not and Will Not Define You


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