WHY IS ANXIETY such a taboo subject when it’s something that every single human being experiences at one point or another in their lives? For something so common there’s still lots of misconceptions surrounding it.
Firstly, it’s important to understand that there are two different types of anxiety; the worry that you naturally feel in certain nerve-wracking situations such as walking into an exam or having a job interview, and the worry and nervousness that you feel for no good reason whatsoever, that begins to take control of your life and stops you from doing the things that you want to do. Recognising that you’re not experiencing anxiety in normal amounts is so incredibly important for your health and well-being, and in fact a lot of people don’t realise just how important it is.
Sure, anxiety is a mental disorder, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t also affect a person physically. Anxiety and panic attacks commonly bring feelings of dread, difficulty breathing, dizziness, chest pains, insomnia, chills and/or hot flashes, difficulty eating or sleeping; the list is huge. Often with panic attacks, the body is activating its fight-or-flight response in order to prepare us for danger – but, in most cases, for those with anxiety there is no danger at all, and these things can be triggered by worries that are minuscule, or even for no particular reason at all. Sounds bad, right?
Did you know that up to a third of the population live with an anxiety disorder? I’m often shocked at how many people I talk to that tell me they also experience it. The common misconceptions are that those that suffer are always negative: never happy about anything, walking around feeling sorry for themselves, a little rain cloud above their head. This couldn’t be further from the truth. From personal experience I can assure you that even the cheeriest and friendliest people, with so many things to be happy about, can go home and worry, overthink, and panic until they feel sick. I know this because I am one of those people.
Due to the stigma attached to anxiety and mental health in general, sufferers may be wondering, “Should I see a doctor?” Personally, I think that only you will know if seeking professional help is something that you need to do, but severe anxiety won’t just disappear by itself. The University offers a counselling service which I would highly recommend looking into, as well as Aber Nightline (01970 621 717) that is available all through term time if you need somebody to talk to that will listen and not pass on any judgement – it’s all confidential and you’ll be surprised at just how beneficial this can be.
Living with anxiety can be especially difficult as a student, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Anxiety can be overcome, and learning not to treat it as a taboo is something that needs to be done in order to ever move forward. Take it from me, as cliché as it sounds; you’re not alone, and things will get better. Let’s get rid of mental health stigma, and let’s kick anxiety’s ass!