I am not begging for attention and I am being serious when I say I cannot breathe or I feel nauseous even over the simplest things. People make jokes or say “well I’m stressed too” but what you fail to see is I’m not stressed the same way you are.

My heart is racing over 100 beats per minute, my mind cannot settle on one single thought, my hands shake as they wrap themselves around my chest. I don’t think about my life as a day by day item, I think about my life ten years from now and I stop in my tracks. I can’t finish my homework because I’m too busy stuck worrying about how I’ll pay rent with a job I don’t know I’ll have.

My anxiety is not something I can just “think” away. Meditation and telling myself “I’m fine, I’m fine” only fogs the truth that my stomach is wrapped in a knot and tears burn within my eyes.

The word 'trigger' is not something I take lightly

There are conversational topics that do trigger me. Watching TV and seeing a character work through a nasty mistake and their feelings of guilt trigger my anxiety about something I personally messed up years ago.

I relive that same awful moment over and over in my head and feel nothing but fear that I will be a constant failure even if I learned my hard lesson so long ago. I’m also triggered by past experiences that are so painful I’ve repressed most of the memories to avoid the pain and only remember the events when a similar topic is mentioned.

Mental illness is a true illness as serious as cancer and is important to more than just those with anxiety or depression according to KB Hollman in her article. I rub my sweaty hands against my pants and pull my hair out as if the strands contain the memories I can simply remove when in reality, I’m stuck with the trauma for life.

I can be anxious and depressed at the same time or at different times

Sometimes my anxiety becomes so overwhelming my mind begins to shut down. My body becomes heavy like a boulder under crushing oceanic waves. The water pounds relentlessly, wearing me away bit by bit. I feel nothing but the heavy weight of a sleep I don’t want to wake up from and this can last a short day to back-breaking several months.

I wake in the night to rasping breaths being ripped from my lungs in the night and when the sun rises again I feel empty; I am drained.

I often need constant reassurance

I apologize for everything. I apologize when I speak a little louder than usual, when I laugh for an extra second, when I bump your foot ever so slightly. I’m embarrassed to ask for help with the easiest task because I feel like a burden.

I need reminding that my friends are my friends by choice rather than obligation. I often feel as if I’m too much to handle and annoying to everyone around me despite having a high self-confidence otherwise. I’m trapped in a battle of pride in who I am and fear that it’s too much for others.

There are more ways than one I handle this

The fact that I’ve been recently prescribed medicine does not mean I have taken the “easy way out” nor does it mean I’m a walking zombie across campus. My first week was rough for sure but I’m learning how to cope with the diagnosis both with what it means for me now and twenty years in the future.

Finding a support group was extremely important for me as well. I have parents that don't quite understand what’s going on with me and a sister who thinks I just need to be “fixed” so my tiny niche of friends are my safety net where I can go to for help and comfort and often times that’s all I need.

According to some, even having a loving animal like a cat is the perfect remedy to relieve the inner pain. For some, all or none of these things work and that’s okay too so long as they recognize what’s happening and they know how to treat themselves in the best way possible.