Students reflect on the difference between anxiety and anxiousness, how to care for themselves
Anxiety is real. It comes in many different forms. It’s there, hidden beneath. But, for some, that anxious feeling is something that can eventually consume one’s life. Anxiety has the ability to influence people on many different scales. This can range from anxiety disorders to the feeling of being anxious. It can occur in early life, but for some it is especially apparent during college years.
Minerva Olaya, a fourth-year biomedical engineering student, didn’t realize she had anxiety until her first year of college.
“My dad was in the ICU for about a month during Fall Quarter, and when I came back to school Winter Quarter, I was constantly worried about him and thinking that something bad would happen to him or my family in general,” Olaya said. “It then got to the point where I felt like I was going to fail every class even though I was doing well in them.”
Once she started going to therapy due to continuous breakdowns, she began to understand her anxiety and how it made her feel. To Olaya, her anxiety is feeling uncomfortable in social situations and feeling like she is going to fail no matter what measures she takes.
“It’s a constant worry that something is going to go wrong and everything is out of my control,” Olaya said.
For second-year international relations major Angelica Nemani, junior year of high school was the time she realized she had anxiety.
“I had already gone through a period of depression, and one way I coped with it was by reading a lot about mental health and how to overcome the challenges that come with having a mental disorder,” Nemani said. “I came to realize that what I was feeling correlated to the feelings associated with anxiety.”
She described anxiety as a complicated condition where people feel an overwhelming feeling of panic that can happen at any moment.
“For me personally, anxiety is like another person in my head controlling my thoughts and telling me I should be more worried about everything that is going on in my life,” Nemani said. “[It’s] telling me that what I am doing is not good enough or even that I, as a person, am not good enough.”
For Nemani, facing her anxiety is almost a daily routine. However, she has a lot of different emotions that depend on the situation and how severe it feels.
“When I feel an intense wave of anxiety during an event or moment, the physical symptoms I often feel are an increased heart rate, heavy breathing, lightheadedness or a headache, nausea and dizziness,” Nemani said.
While most people feel anxious at some point in their lives, it may not be equivalent to having an anxiety disorder. Julissa Oropeza a third-year Spanish major, has not been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder but still experiences anxious feelings that occur normally during the end of the quarter. She described it as a tight feeling in her chest, and she feels like she needs to pace herself or get some breathing room.
“Balancing life at that point becomes extremely difficult, and it’s the time where I can’t go home or be with friends due to the busy schedule,” Oropeza said.
However, the thing that helps her cope is being around other people and having the emotional support that reminds her she is not alone.
“It reminds me of the bigger picture and to not be caught up in the little things,” Oropeza said.
Oropeza explained that seeking help is the best way to go to when dealing with these kinds of feelings. As a friend to someone with an anxiety disorder, Oropeza says that getting better is an exercise.
“[Getting better] won’t happen overnight or go away, and that’s ok,” Oropeza said. “Sometimes things need to be practiced and exercised.”
A common misconception about anxiety is that someone is over-exaggerating about their feelings.
“They don’t believe that your mind is as powerful as it is because, ultimately, it’s your mind that is playing games with you,” Olaya said.
Nemani, in addition, pointed out that the term “panic attack” is used nonchalantly within society.
“I don’t think people really understand what it means,” Nemani said. “It’s not just the feeling of your heart rate increasing rapidly or breathing heavier than usual when you’re nervous. For most people with anxiety, a panic attack can feel like a heart attack, and it is a very serious event that can happen fairly frequently for some.”
To help people become more aware, Oropeza believes that awareness should be presented earlier on.
“There isn’t enough awareness and understanding until college (at least for me), and I think that it should go beyond that,” Oropeza said. “It should be taught at school in health classes because mental health awareness is still health.”
For students seeking help, all three students believe that going to the Student Health and Counseling Services Center is a big help.
“I personally believe that every student should go to CAPS at least once, considering we pay for it with our tuition and fees,” Olaya said.
She also believes that when students are coping with anxiety, they should reach out to their professors. She stated that most professors are understanding and will help you.
Regarding the Student Health and Counseling Services Center, Oropeza says, “[The Student Health and Counseling Services Center] really helps you navigate your emotions and reasons for them. They give you help and more resources beyond that session.”
Counseling appointments can be made through the SHCS website, which offers information about their counseling services and other resources regarding health topics.
To students and anyone who has anxiety, Nemani speaks from her own personal experience.
“If you have never experienced the feelings associated with this illness before, I think it’s really beneficial to talk to someone that you’re comfortable with about what you’re facing and what you need help with,” Nemani said. “Keep the people that are important to you aware of what you’re going through.”
Written by: Sierra Burgueno — firstname.lastname@example.org