Self-Appreciation Saturdays

SAS: I Struggle with High-Functioning Anxiety. (10/14/17)

Hey guys, welcome back to TNTH.

Credit: Colorado Center for Assessment Counseling

I normally wouldn’t spontaneously write a post complaining about something so personal to me, especially when it’s anxiety-related. I personally am one of those people who find themselves hiding their anxiety-related issues because I feel like a burden to those around me. Anxiety is one of those difficult things to explain to people who don’t normally let anxiety get to them. Everyone deals with anxiety differently, but it doesn’t mean that there’s not a single person on this planet who hasn’t felt it before. Some people just don’t understand that others find it more difficult to cope with their anxiety. I am one of those people fighting every single day to overcome my anxiety issues.

Today, I am writing this in hopes to let people who deal with this type of anxiety that it’s okay to talk about it. It needs to be talked about. I am also writing this to let the others know that these type of people exist in your world, they just hide it because they are afraid of your type of judgment.

As I mentioned way back then in my Social Anxiety post, I’ve had social anxiety for almost 10 years now. It’s one of those things I believe will never change, but it doesn’t mean that I let it ruin my life. Since I wrote that post, I’ve had help trying to cope with my social anxiety. Not only am I learning how to be comfortable in my own skin, but I also have Obie helping me find ways to cope and overcome social anxiety whenever it kicks in. But just when I thought I was becoming more fearless and braver, I found myself feeling those familiar emotions in a different way.

I found myself developing high-functioning school-related anxiety.

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Credit: The Odyessy Online

Without being too repetitive of myself, I started grad school a year ago and since then, I’ve seen the ugly side of it. It’s constant reading, constant reading, constant critical thinking, and hours and hours spent doing all those things, especially when “final paper season” comes around. As the semesters went by, I started finding myself getting extremely anxious doing school work for my classes, even going as far as getting anxiety attacks the night before my class because I had to go to my class that following night. I began to cry myself to sleep because I was just so anxious having to go to my school and coming home late at night. I’ve had my family tell me countless times to talk to a professional about this newfound anxiety, but I can’t lie – I feel into the epidemic of not wanting to share my anxiety with someone else because I felt ashamed to seek help. To this day, I still do.

Prior to grad school, I never felt the type of anxiety I have for school as I do now. During my undergrad, I would have to wake up at 5:20 in the morning just to make it to school by 7. Never once was I nervous to travel in the dark on Autumn days; never once did I wake up feeling like there were bricks tied to my ankles. Now in grad school, I feel the constant anxiety bubbling up inside me whenever I have to travel across the island back to Brooklyn at 10 o’clock at night. I feel my heart beating against my chest whenever I have to wait at a bus stop for 30 minutes without anyone else waiting for it with me, especially after the time I encountered a drunk man at the bus stop one night who wouldn’t leave me alone and kept getting closer and closer to me. To this day I am scared shitless of standing at bus stops at night. Not once during undergrad did I feel like there weren’t other students and faculty members that understood what type of English student I am; I always felt welcomed in my undergrad English program. Not once did I ever feel a professor look at me and talk to me like I didn’t belong in that program. I now feel all of the above as a grad student.

My school-related anxiety is something I have to constantly fight with so that I am able to get what I need to be done. The work is unavoidable at this level. I have to get work done every single day to get myself ready for every upcoming class. I have to read entire books in a week to discuss it in class. I have to get up in front of my class and do class presentations knowing that my anxiety will be the reason I stumble on my words and stutter. I have to get shit done to earn my master’s degree, but some days are harder than others.

Today, I felt really good because I had an entire day to myself to relax. I had no lingering thoughts in the back of my head drilling me that I had work to do. After working on two very big projects this past week, I needed this day off. As a person who deals with high-functioning anxiety, I need to find ways to calm my mind before I let it get out of control. All I did today was sit back and watch videos that made me happy. Today, I realized that the way I felt today is the way I want to feel every single day. I’m mentally tired of the shit anxiety puts my mind through; I’m tired of letting it win. Most of all, I’m tired of people looking at me and my anxiety as “just another girl whining about grad school.”

But to be happy meant that I needed to admit to myself that I am dealing with such a high-functioning type of anxiety.

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My anxiety matters. My anxiety is the reason why I am who I am today, and I work the way I work. I’m not proud of letting my high-functioning anxiety dictating my life; I’m ashamed, to say the least. What I do know, though, is that I’m strong enough to acknowledge that I am an anxious person, and instead of trying to erase it out of my life, I deal with it. I make sure I get all my work done days before it’s due so that the anxiety of doing things last-minute doesn’t ruin my week. I make sure that I leave for school earlier than I need to so that I am traveling to campus with people my age and not old men returning home to their wives during rush hour. I make sure I plan everything accordingly not because I’m disorganized, but because I need to keep my mind as clear and simple as possible in order to keep it stress-free.

But even after all of that, anxiety wears a thousand faces.

I know it’s something that won’t be going away until I finish grad school this upcoming Spring. I know that the work only gets harder from here. But I am coping, and I’m finding ways to not let this high-functioning anxiety get the best of me. For a year, it practically ruined my life. I let my anxiety for school open other doors, creating more opportunities for anxiety to take over me. For a year, I masked this anxiety under every little thing besides what it actually was, because I was too afraid to speak up. But I’m tired of letting it do that. I want to live a life where, yes, high-functioning anxiety will always be present in my life, but I also want to be happy for the things I can control. It’s not easy, but I know I can make it through.

Yes, I totally sang the Degrassi theme song while typing that.

All in all, anxiety matters. Acknowledge it, then fuck that bitch up.

 

-Liz. (:

 

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