It was an April morning in 2016 when I had my first panic attack. It felt like any other day as I was walking to the subway when I was hit with an uncontrollable wave of panic for seemingly no reason. My heart started pounding, my legs became weak, and I felt out of touch with reality. I stayed home from school that day, hoping it would go away and that it was just a one-time thing. However, these feelings stayed consistent during the entire day, then the next few weeks, then several months, and are still with me today.
It was at my first therapy session soon after where I finally figured out what was causing these feelings — an anxiety disorder. After I became fully comfortable with therapy, I decided to open up to my friends about what I had been dealing with. I sat my closest friends down on the couches in the lounge at school and explained what they had all been wondering — what had been going on with me for the past few months. I was so relieved when I found out that I wasn’t alone — many of them had anxiety disorders too and some still did do today.
Coming to college has been one of the biggest challenges I’ve had to face in terms of dealing with my anxiety. It’s a scary transition for most people, but I feel like I have particularly been put at a disadvantage because of my anxiety disorder and the ability it has had in the past to hold me back from doing things I would normally love. College is supposed to be all about putting yourself “out there” and pushing outside of your comfort zone but sometimes it’s the last thing I want to do because all I can focus is my anxiety.
My anxiety changed me as a person in good and bad ways. At first, I tried to run away from how I was feeling because I couldn’t understand it and didn’t think anyone else would. I’ve realized that what dealing with anxiety has made me more self-aware, and also more aware of how other people are feeling and what they might be going through. I want to become the person that my friends or family can come to with anything because I knew what it felt like to have no one to go to with your problems. I have learned more about myself through dealing with anxiety than I have through any other experience, and whether I like it or not, anxiety is a part of my identity and affects me every day of my life.