The Struggle Within: Living With Anxiety at Tbird

courtesy of asu.edu

This piece was written by an anonymous guest writer for Das Tor

Sometimes, my heart starts racing and I cannot stop shaking. Thoughts race through my mind at a million miles an hour, and I cry uncontrollably. This goes on for hours and hours on end, with no sign of stopping. Sometimes, I’m alone in my room reaching out for someone to come, but no one will and no one does. Sometimes, I’m driving home and think “I want to crash my car” or “Will someone please hit my car so I can end the pain that I’m feeling.” I think that maybe things would be better if I wasn’t around,  maybe it would make everyone’s life easier. Hours later, sometimes almost half a day, I’m able to calm down enough to go to sleep with the hope that I’ll never have another panic attack, but knowing that it will happen again.

On the surface, everyday life is like most people’s: I wake up, go to class, go to work, hang out with friends, and come home. However, my day is anything like most people’s. When I wake up, it’s after a sleepless night of constantly waking up to thoughts running through my head. As I’m going to class, I think “God, I hope I don’t annoy anyone with any comments I make.” That’s if I choose to speak in class at all, because sometimes I don’t – simply because I think my classmates look down on me. When I’m in class, I want the professors to think that I’m smart and that I know what I’m talking about, but I’m afraid of them cold-calling me. I sit in class with a million thoughts running through my head about different people, how I’m a burden to them, and what can I do to change that. After class, I hang out with my classmates and talk about random things while thoughts about being accepted race through my head. At work, I’m constantly afraid that I’ll say something wrong, or that my actions will land me in trouble. When hanging out with friends, I’m only ever half there. There’s the outgoing, confident side of me that everyone sees, and then there’s the anxiety ridden person that I really am. I overthink every interaction, I analyze how positive or negative it was, and I fret about how my actions were received. When I come home, I constantly think about how I’m perceived, and how many people I may have upset. When someone makes me upset, I think about how much I was at fault for them upsetting me. I usually end up apologizing to them for upsetting me.

People with anxiety live a life full of contradictions. We don’t think that we deserve to be happy because we never have been. We want to be close to people, but push them away because we fear that all they’ll do is hurt us. We don’t want people to know about our anxiety because we don’t want people to feel sorry for us or think that all we are is broken, when we aren’t. We would rather hurt ourselves than hurt someone else. We’ll be the ones singing and dancing at the pub, and then crying in our rooms at night. We feel alone in a sea of people and try so hard not to be. We reach out to people that we consider friends to share how we’re feeling, and they suggest we calm down by doing things that we’re already doing. Rarely do they say “do you need me to come over?” and when you ask, there are always reasons why they can’t. We end up feeling like more of a burden, because we should’ve known that they were busy and it was stupid of us to ask. Anxiety makes it so hard to trust people.

“I’m not strong enough.” That is the one of the first thoughts anyone dealing with anxiety and depression has. We can get all the help available, and everyone around us can say that we’re so strong for getting the help we need, but it never feels like we’re strong. We don’t think we are because in our minds, if we were strong enough, we wouldn’t be going through this. We have people who say they care about us telling us that we don’t need the medication and that we should just be able to “get over this” – nevermind that there’s a chemical imbalance in our system. Our minds work differently from the people who don’t struggle with anxiety and depression, and because of that we end up hurting a lot of people that we care about. We understand that people are trying to help, and we appreciate it, but it’s hard to trust those who may not understand what we’re going through.

The reasons that anxiety and depression fester within someone are entirely circumstantial.  Often, we don’t even knows what causes it. When we do figure it out, we don’t want to tell anyone because we feel like it’s trivial, or because it’s someone we care about that we don’t want to hurt. Our whole mindset is that we would rather be in pain than cause someone else pain. And this in turn causes more anxiety for us: we don’t want to hurt, but we feel like we should because we hurt someone else.

Dealing with anxiety- quite frankly- sucks; and it is hard to find support. People who are going through it find themselves gravitating toward others who are struggling with it as well. However, this doesn’t always help, because while they understand why we think the way we do, our conversations can often turn negative and reinforce our fears. Friends who don’t deal with anxiety don’t understand the daily battles we wage with ourselves. They try their best, but they can’t comprehend why we don’t simply ‘get help and feel better’ – despite the fact that we are already on medication or in therapy. Sometimes they just decide that it’s best to not be around us, because they don’t want to cause us anxiety; but this only ends up making our anxiety worse, because we think that it’s our fault.

Those who are close to us take a lot of abuse as a result of our anxiety: they are the ones who get scared by seeing us shaking, sweating, and crying uncontrollably. And yet, they are the ones that say “I’m here for you no matter what.” Living with anxiety and depression can be lonely. We don’t want to talk about our anxiety, and we don’t want people to see us as broken. At our core, we are just like everyone else, and we long to be treated as such.

2 Comments

  1. Hi Chris. I am T-Bird recently graduated in May 2016. I would love to have a chat with you anytime. You can find me in Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter. I am sure we can have a great chat. Thunderbird was a fantastic live-changing experience to me and believe me, I left not only my country which implies friends and family, but also a wonderful job and a promising future. That could have been an enormous source of anxiety. However, I lived probably the best years of my life in our campus and abroad. I agree with you: it does not help to get together with those who do not understand you. Being part of the those groups of sensitives T-Birds who enjoy and are happy at our school is something that has a contagious effect. Be patient with yourself. Try to take advantage of that wonderful experience in Glendale.

  2. Hey Jorge!
    So, I’m not the author of this wonderful piece, and the author wants to stay anonymous for now; but they’ve seen your message! You are not the first person who has reached out to me in order to pass on a message of empathy and support. I think it’s amazing how much of the Tbird community is willing to share their stories and help each other out. It makes me proud to be a Thunderbird!

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