Grad school can bring out the best and worst people. Being in my third year of it, I’ve seen lots of ups and downs. I’ve jumped with joy, trembled with terror, and cried my eyes out. I’ve uncovered an anxiety disorder, battled (consequent) insomnia, found the love […]
Tag: mental health
It may not be Mental Health Awareness Month Anymore, but the Eight are not done talking about mental health. Five of them sat down to discuss their experiences with anxiety earlier this week, and this is their talk:
Olivia Lindem: When did you realize you have anxiety? When did you decide to get help (if you did)?
- OL: I’ve had problems with anxiety my entire life, but I only managed to identify them as such towards the end of my undergraduate degree. I had always managed a high level of academic stress, obsessing over grades as a child and regularly pulling all nighters perfecting my work in high school. I thought this was absolutely normal and that stress was a constant necessity. After all, success needed to be earned. Unfortunately though, things got worse and worse over time and I found myself unable to sleep from anxiety-driven nightmares and would consequently stay awake until 4 or 5 in the morning on a regular basis, imagining the consequence of every single grade and piece of work. Any imagined mistake could be nothing but catastrophe. I was paralyzed out of fear and constantly feeling adrenaline rushes and feeling my pulse beating like mad. These feelings were familiar to me, especially around exams, but it wasn’t until lightheadedness, migraines, and a racing pulse became regular occurrences that I decided to reach out to my doctor and realized that what I was feeling wasn’t the normal level of stress that I thought it was. I learned that I didn’t have to live a life where I was constantly terrified of the 1001 bad possibilities that were constantly going through my head. It wasn’t until I got help that I realized that that horrible, burning, nauseating feeling I’d felt in my chest and stomach since I was a child was the result of anxiety and that some of my extreme reactions to things were panic attacks.
- Amy Richardson: During my second year at uni my reaction to stress became seriously debilitating, and then I started to experience the same symptoms for no apparent reason. The moment I realised it was a serious issue was when I found myself physically unable to leave my bedroom one evening and go downstairs to cook dinner or get a drink, even though I was hungry and thirsty. I called my parents, and even their offer of ordering me a pizza didn’t help because I couldn’t face going downstairs to answer the door. I could hear my housemates laughing in the living room and the thought of seeing one of them was simply the most terrifying thing to me. As soon as I was able to talk to people again, I sought counselling through my university, but it wasn’t helpful and I had a breakdown that summer and nearly dropped out. Luckily I found a way to manage my anxiety on my own and can now recognise when I’m in a bad patch and put strategies in place to help myself through it.
- Lauren Olmeda: I have known basically my entire life, but never really felt the effects too strongly until I was on my own in university. By the time I was in my third year, I found it difficult if not impossible to get out of bed in the morning and I knew my worries and fears weren’t just the result of an overactive imagination, so I saw a counselor for the first time. The act of seeking help soothed my mind a bit, but the breathing exercises and other basic forms of self-medication did nothing for me. After an extremely bad attack that came after a night of binge drinking, I finally sought professional medical help in November 2015 during my graduate studies. It was the best decision I’ve ever made for myself.
- Lee Clark: Looking back, I’ve always had it. I pretty much had small instances like hives, or what I would later realize were panic attacks. But these were infrequent enough when I was in high school that I didn’t think too much of it. It became much more oppressive after a series of family issues and tragedies. The panic attacks increased, and I finally recognized it as a panic attack only when I was working in NYC at a popular retail store during the holidays. I’ve considered myself to be quite strong over the years and to be handling things well when, really, I ignored dealing with various issues, so my anxiety bubbled out at what I thought were odd times. But again, these were somewhat rare enough that I didn’t do anything about it. They increased more and more and reached a crescendo after the birth of my son, which actually wasn’t that long ago. I sought help, and I cannot believe it took me that long to get help. I would have benefitted much sooner.
- Raquel Reyes: I don’t remember this, but I did hear stories from my mother as I got older about the sort of things I’d say or do under pressured situations. I don’t know if they were tantrums or panic attacks, but they were so rare and according to her, I was otherwise so calm that she never thought much of it. My junior year of high school they suddenly came back. I was one of those lucky kids that never had to study much before, and when time management issues finally caught up with me I was suddenly shutting down constantly and breaking into tears anytime I thought I’d miss even the slightest deadline. I remember my body shaking all over and the inability to breathe. I somehow survived through my second year of university, but things reached a head then. Living alone for the first time, there wasn’t anyone around to check my behavior… I missed classes for weeks, only struggling the few steps between my dorm room and the dining hall under extreme circumstances. I finally dropped the courses I hadn’t yet failed and went home for six months.
The Weekly Digest is a round-up of our (and your!) favorite posts of the week, highlighted together and split by activity for your weekend enjoyment. READ: Literature Editor Olivia tackles Elif Batuman’s The Idiot, a culturally rich novel that explores the uncertainty of university life. RESIST: […]
Note: For Mental Health Awareness Month, the Eight will discuss their struggles with mental health. In this first piece, one of the Eight anonymously tackles a common but not-always-identified form of psychological abuse: gaslighting. “I never said that!” “You’re wrong!” “I’ve always thought this!” “You’ve been brainwashed!” […]