Students often talk about being anxious, but is that different than simply being nervous? Clinically, it is, and the experience of anxiety is a tough one for students to endure.
By Shelbi Blankartz
Good News! You’ve survived another long, emotionally draining Monday. As you read this in the comfort of your own home, you should probably know that there’s a slight possibility tomorrow can go to complete garbage.
Allow me to explain.
You probably forgot to turn off the stove when you left, and those people whom you’ve never met before are probably talking about how hideous your outfit looks today. Your significant other is probably not replying to your texts because they found someone funnier and just better than you overall. Your friends probably ditched on you last weekend because your constant worrying is too much for them to handle and you get pretty annoying after a couple hours. Your grades are slipping and you’re starting to think that you’re not going to go to the college of your dreams because you’re just too dumb. You probably didn’t get a good role in that play because frankly, you can’t act to save your life. When you get home, the thoughts will seem to stop at least a little bit–but by the end of the day, when everything seems to kind of be alright, the “what if’s” start, and this cycle may repeat itself yet again.
Anxiety has the tendency to fog your mind. It can cause you to think of really menial things or to over-analyze every little situation. It can cause panic attacks and can—on some occasions—cause a depressive disorder.
This is what living with Generalized Anxiety Disorder looks like. It’s noisy, and it never ends. It makes it hard to enjoy literally anything at all, and it emotionally drains you. Sometimes, all this over-thinking can lead to a panic attack, which is when you can’t breathe and everything seems to be closing in on you at too fast of a pace.
Often times, I hear my peers say that they’re feeling anxious. And while some of them may be right about how they’re feeling, I think a majority of them sincerely don’t understand the difference between anxiousness and just being nervous.
Let’s say you’re in the middle of taking a huge test—maybe the Smarter Balanced or the ACT. About halfway through, you realize you have to go to the bathroom. Anxiety would be the fear of having to get up and ask permission to go while everybody watches you and possibly judges you for the way you walk or how you’re disrupting the silence in the room. Feeling nervous would be the simple fear of not being able to go because you’ll have to wait so many hours before you can finally go.
Anxiety has the tendency to fog your mind. It can cause you to think of really menial things or to over-analyze every little situation. It can cause panic attacks and can—on some occasions—cause a depressive disorder. So I sometimes wonder why some people say they feel anxious. Do they actually have anxiety or are they just feeling nervous? Of course, you can’t possibly blame people for not knowing the difference, because it’s easy to get them confused.
But good news, you did turn off the stove and those people aren’t talking about you. Your significant other loves you, and your friends still care about you deeply. You’re not dumb, and you’re going to get through this. Anxiety may last a long time, but it doesn’t last forever. And, if you ask me, that’s some pretty good news to hear.
Photo: Anxiety by Practical Cures on Flickr