Having anxiety is something I live with every day. I started talking openly about my journey with both anxiety and depression towards the middle of my senior year. Funnily, I had people boldly tell me, “Just wait till you get to college,” as if that would solve everything. I told myself that it wasn’t true, that this was my life and that my environment would have little effect on this aspect of my life. To some point, I internalized it though. The first time I had an anxiety attack in college, I found myself in a bathroom stall bracing myself against the walls, reminding myself to breathe, tears pouring down my face, and a thought in my head You’re in college now, why is this still happening?
The reality is, we don’t tell people with arthritis to expect their arthritis to go away if they move from Oklahoma to Hawaii. Why, then, are we telling people with depression or anxiety to wait for the next step in their life and they’ll be “cured”? Sure, if weather is a factor in the person with arthritis’s pain we would expect that if they move to more favorable weather; in the same way, triggers like stress and loneliness can be lessened and the effects of these struggles may also be better managed.
If anyone told you college would be the fix- I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it is not. I haven’t been there yet, but I’ll tell you that a successful career, parenthood, getting married, etc.,etc. are not the fix either. There is no fix.
There is no fix because you are not broken. You are not less than whole. No situation is going to make anxiety, depression, or any other of these things go away. Some will make it easier, but as is to be expected with this journey there are to be days that are good and that you will forget that you have ever uttered the word “depression” and then there will be days that are so bad you will spend the day in bed with the lights and the phone off telling people you are sick because it is still easier to say that than to explain the pain and the listlessness that comes with the burden you must bare. In college, there will be many days that range all over the spectrum.
May I reiterate one more time before I close:
There is no fix because you are not broken.
Please friend, please, remember that on both the hard and the easy days.