Written by: Sarah Camacho
I’ve spent too much time not wanting to get out of bed, dragging my feet and feeling like there was a heavy weight pressing against my chest. I tried shaking off this feeling…it was just me being completely dramatic. “I’ll get over it eventually,” I thought to myself every day. Days had passed and then months and I knew I wasn’t present in my surroundings. If I had the choice, I would stay in bed all day by myself.
My second year of university was a dark time. I experienced some tough moments that got the best of me and I truly didn’t think it could get any worse. I wasn’t the same person…I couldn’t see the bright side of anything and I wasn’t any fun to be around. I was more than okay being alone for a long period of time and not having to socialize at all.
My anxiety was through the roof. Prior to this time in my life, my mental health was never an issue. Sure, I got stressed about dance and school but my anxiety was never unmanageable and panic attacks were a foreign concept to me. You know that feeling of having a weight pressing against your chest? I felt like that every single day. I found myself gasping for air on a regular basis and I got overwhelmed easily.
I couldn’t find inspiration anywhere. I didn’t want to be in school, so I never went. I was juggling two jobs and that just became draining. I let my mind take over and I didn’t know how to stop thinking. I was over-thinking everything, which 95% of the time triggered a panic attack. I became paranoid that I wasn’t going to succeed in life and that people were overanalyzing everything about me (which is why I was okay being by myself). At this point, which was probably the end of second year and the beginning of third year, I felt so alone. My parents didn’t understand what I was going through and, bless my friends’ hearts, they tried so hard to understand but were often left at a loss for words. I wasn’t getting better and I didn’t think I was ever going to.
I didn’t want to be the girl who used her anxiety as an excuse, but it prevented me from doing so many thing. I didn’t want to be the girl who made her anxiety and panic attacks bigger than they actually were. But most importantly, I didn’t want to be the girl who let her anxiety define her and that’s why I decided to do something about it.
For those who may be experiencing the same feeling as I am, I want to share a few things that have helped me. I’m not a doctor, nor have I completely controlled my anxiety, but I have figured out some ways that may benefit you as well.
- Set time aside every week just for yourself: This reminds you that taking care of your mental health is the most important thing.So for myself this means running a bath, reading a book or watching Netflix and taking time to write in my journal. I don’t usually have my phone with me because I take this time to detach myself from social media.
- Don’t commit to more things than you can handle: This means don’t be afraid to say no.For myself, I hated letting people down so I put their needs before mine. This became emotionally and physically exhausting. If you overflow your schedule, you won’t leave any time for yourself to clear your head.
- ASK FOR HELP! I cannot stress this enough. You’ll be surprised how good you feel after a chat with a professional or evening asking for an extension from your professor.Trent has amazing professionals to help if you ever feel lonely. Corinn Philips is available for accessibility and personal counseling- she has helped a lot during my rough time during second year. Jackie Orsetto and Craig Cameron are available for academic counseling, which will help reduce any anxiety surrounding school. If you need to make any appointments with these people, you can check the What’s Happening emails or speak to the front office.
There is no shame in seeking help. No one will judge you. If anything your friends and family will be proud that you are taking initiative to get better.
Although my struggles with mental health only started in university, it was comforting knowing that there is so much support out there. Back when I was in high school (wow, that just made me sound really old) I was involved with the Stomping Out Stigma group (SOS). Us students worked with the faculty and various members of TAMI to create awareness, whether it be through various routines that I have choreographed or simply creating bulletin boards that highlighted celebrities suffering from mental illnesses. Every poster and every assembly was reaching out and creating awareness and its groups like SOS that express the message, “You are not alone!”
During those days when I was feeling like a pile of crap, I spent a few moments reflecting on the time I spent with my SOS group. It reminded me that so many people are fighting their own battles (completely different from mine) but we shouldn’t be ashamed of it because it shapes who we are and if you are able to conquer your battle you walk away feeling stronger. I can tell you from personal experience, that learning how to manage my anxiety and my panic attacks is hands down the best accomplishment I have ever achieved.
Don’t ever give up and don’t ever feel like you’re alone.
The Bell Let’s Talk Campaign is in full swing at TrentU Durham! Come by the front atrium to break down the stigmas associated with mental health and win prizes!