by Sophia Sajan (’22)
“Lately I’ve been feeling really sad and anxious and it’s just been really hard on me.”
If you’re anything like me, AKA a human being who makes numerous mistakes, you have been so acutely terrified to the outcome of your math final that you are concerned you’re going to pass out.
Of course, you were fine. You’re still here. Yes, maybe your math grade is in dire need of at least an 80% to keep you out of summer school, but did it really matter? I think not. The universe did not detonate the moment that one kid going to a little itty-bitty highschool in America got a 70% on Mrs. Casper’s pop quiz. Sorry.
Think of anxiety-like a little bird chirping 24/7, 365 in your ear. You have no control. There is nothing wrong with YOU. It’s the darned bird that won’t fly away! Or better yet, think of anxiety-like my old neighbor’s dogs. I love dogs and all that, but I wanted to throw those two yapping pups down the elevator shaft.
There was nothing I could do about the barks that would erupt at every single dramatic moment of a tv show perfectly, or wake up my entire family when I tried to leave the apartment. My dog stopped barking back ages ago, if he went down that road he would be there for the rest of his life. Those tiny little barrels could go all day. I quickly learned there was nothing I could do. Those dogs would be alive whether I like it or not –although the elevator shaft was a viable option, if I think about it– and there was nothing wrong with me. Yeah, my brother would be mad that I had Netball training in the early mornings, therefore have to open the door and trigger the high-pitched howls that would wake him from his slumber at 5 AM consistently each morning.
Although I could have slipped those dogs something to relax them on their numerous escapes from the neighbor’s apartment and into mine when I opened my door to take out my good and quiet dog to relieve himself, I did not.
Luckily for you, you can give your yapping demon a little something to help you function throughout your day. Medication for anxiety is a viable option if your medical professional recommends it.
If medications are not an option for you, try the numerous cliche coping methods you’ve been told fifty million times. There’s a reason they are always said. You guessed it: because they actually work! News flash: meditation actually helps you if you’re willing to try it. A range of other ways to help you with your day is writing it all down. If you can pinpoint what you are worrying about, state why, assess if it is reasonable, and rank ithe likelihood of it occurring, you can handle your worries better.
Ranking the possibility is surprisingly helpful. Worrying over your best friends parents secretly not liking you? Okay… is it likely? Category 1: highly unlikely, I think. Have you done anything specific? I mean, if you’re caught exposing their children to dangerous substances, yeah they aren’t going to like you very much. But if you haven’t done anything, how likely is it that they dislike you? Category 1, I’m telling you.
Listen, if this worrying over school, friends, family, etc. is limiting your day to day life, talk to someone. But don’t be dramatic. You know deep down in the grand scheme of your life, this maths quiz will be trashed faster than your crusty Aunts’ bunt cake. Tell me this: when you are laying on your deathbed, reflecting on your life in your final moments, WILL YOU THINK ABOUT THIS 15 QUESTION MATH QUIZ WHEN YOU WERE 15?
I am going to safely assume the answer is no.
However, if you are sitting in a bathroom stall in the ISC bathroom trying to regulate your breathing because it feels like your heart decided to immigrate up to your brain and is poorly received by your skull; you might have a clinical anxiety disorder.
There is a difference between the fluttery butterflies feeling of knowing that your volleyball state finals are tonight –and you are most definitely going to find a way to set the ball backward— and the feeling of impending doom that rakes your entire body for reasons you may not fully understand.
Panic disorder is spontaneous feelings of terror or impending doom. Panic attacks are not that one drama queen in your class claiming that she is stressing so much over the math quiz she swears she’s “boutta have a panic attack.” Physical symptoms include chest pain, shortness of breath, feelings of terror, and heart palpitations. The onslaught could occur at any moment without triggers.
If panic attacks persist for long terms, your brain will begin to release stress hormones on a regular basis. Headaches, depression, and dizziness’ frequency will increase as a result.
When the deadline for your Macroeconomics project is fast approaching and you still haven’t begun because Season 3 of Big Mouth came out — honestly teachers should know better by now not to mess with our Netflix schedules — you are going to feel that stress. When you are stressed or anxious about something, your nervous system, via your brains command, will flood with hormones and chemicals that exist to help you handle potential threats. Your body, being the smartly designed piece of machinery that it is, knows to return to normal functions after the threat has passed. But if you are continuously anxious and stressed for long periods of time, your body will not stop releasing those hormones. This being said, long-term exposure to your little stress-warriors could cause weight gain, muscle tension, depression, social isolation, insomnia, headaches, and much more.
Anxiety can be hard to deal with because it feels so important you know what that stranger walking by you was thinking when they gave you a funny look. You feel like the put-off look in his eyes will haunt you till your grave. What should you do? Talk to someone. Write about it. Track the guy down on instagram and persistently pester him until he remembers you (“What do you mean ‘who are you?’ I’m the girl you made eye contact with on Main Street 4 weeks ago! Was there kale in my teeth? Tell me gosh-darn-it!”).
Remember what I said about ranking the probability 1-5. Right out of author Sarah Knights playbook: Category 1 is highly unlikely, 5 is inevitable. Ranking it can help you stop obsessing over the probability of the kid who sits next to you in Econ hating your guts even though you’ve never spoken.
Small tips and tricks like that will help you manage the persistent worrying you can’t seem to shake. But seriously, if that dog wont stop barking, there’s only so many yaps you can take before your brain explodes, so talk to a doctor if you can’t seem to get a handle on the anxiety.