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ResLife

Reslife: Anxiety at University! – Milena’s Experience

By FLlj 09 Oct 2020

In today’s world, more and more people are opening about their mental health, in particularly about anxiety, but that doesn’t mean that it is a ‘new’ discovery. Anxiety has always been there, but until recent years, it hasn’t been talked about as much as other mental health issues.

Anxiety is just as important!

My Story

For as long as I can remember I have always worried, stressed and become nervous around certain situations. Growing up, I have been quite an emotional and sensitive person (my mum used to say I inherited this from my Grandma, who was an ‘over worrier’ and who used to cry pretty much every day). The reality is, even if I have somehow inherited some ‘emotional’ and ‘sensitive’ gene, I am and have suffered with anxiety for a long time (and wayyyyyyy before myself or my family knew it!). Three years ago, after seeking help from the school nurse, I was referred to a mental health specialist and was diagnosed with Anxiety. I feel fortunate to say that I have never needed medication for my anxiety but have received CBT for around a year after.

My experience of anxiety I think started way back from when I was a young child. I would always and still to this day, analyse everything in my life. From my childhood experiences, A levels, my university experiences, disagreements with friends, big life decisions, you name it, I have almost always analysed most things in my life, always thinking the worse of the situations, or of myself, and jumping to the worst outcome. When this happens, it can often lead me to feeling very overwhelmed psychologically, leaving me upset, confused, angry, or physically experiencing a tightening feeling to my chest, struggling to breath and a dizziness feeling, all things which resemble a panic attack.

It’s not the end of the world!

Managing my anxiety

The purpose of this blog isn’t to talk about the symptoms of my anxiety so much, but to talk about how I deal, or more realistically, MANAGE my anxiety. 

As I have said above, as someone who can end up analysing anything in life, big or small, I have had to learn to essentially ALTER HOW MY MIND THINKS when I am faced with new situations or thoughts. I have to purposefully change my mindset from instantly thinking about the worst outcome, to thinking of the different available outcomes.

A good example of this is during an in-class test in my second year. On the day of the exam, I was a little nervous. I had butterflies in my tummy, but this was quite normal for me to experience during assessment time. I can remember thinking this constant ‘pressure’ (which was essentially imaginary since nobody or nothing was actually pressuring me) of doing well and passing the assessment, as otherwise I wouldn’t make it to my third and final year. It’s hard to describe the feelings that I felt shortly after this, opening the exam paper, and thinking that I didn’t know how to approach certain questions. As I started writing, I think the anxious feelings, along with the stress of time and doing well in the exam paper, took over me. I BROKE DOWN. I CRIED A LITTLE. I can remember feeling like an absolute failure there and then. I wanted to leave the room, and never look at an Economics exam paper again. At that point I could see the invigilator walking towards me, probably noticing I was upset. I had to, I guess for myself and for my surroundings, pull myself together. It was as if I had zoned out to this negative place in my mind, and I needed to zone back in to why I was there. To sit an exam. After several deep breaths, sips of water and a new mindset of putting less pressure on myself to pass the exam, I created a quick new strategy of answering the questions by brain storming, creating bullet point answers and composing this into the best paragraphs I could with the time I had left. Fast forward 1 month to the results and I got 68%! Clearly that paper didn’t impact the result I had worked so hard for. BUT, the most important thing I now look back on, is even if it did, and I didn’t pass it first time around, I could have retaken the exam the following semester or appealed the result. IT WOULDN’T HAVE BEEN THE END OF THE WORLD.

I try now in everyday life to think ‘it’s not the end of the world’ and to also think that it’s possible that there will be good outcomes of situations I am in. It helps me put less pressure on myself! Having this mindset, especially in the current climate, has helped me change my mindset from analysing negatively to analysing more positively, thinking that anything could happen, and not just one inevitable negative outcome. I have also learnt to appreciate the littler things, my family, my friends and most importantly, MYSELF.

MANAGING my anxiety was only part of continuing life after realising that I experience it. I think the other half, which is just as important is OPENING UP. As an individual, I am usually quite confident and find it easy to put across my views, but I definitely didn’t when it came to anxiety. If I had never opened up, I wouldn’t know today that what I experience is anxiety. I think, as someone who is a person pleaser, I felt as if I couldn’t talk about it, that it wouldn’t make me appear as this confident girl anymore, and in some way, make others think less of. THIS IS ALL NOT TRUE! And in some ways, you opening up about feelings, helps others around us see that having such thoughts aren’t uncommon. It reduces the STIGMA around it. 

Opening up/ Talking about anxiety to family/friends

Opening up is the BEST thing I did. The FIRST conversation is the HARDEST but by far the best. However, I think opening up reduces your feelings of worry and negativity by helping you open your mind up to other outcomes. Like I said above, I try and do this generally, but I sometimes CAN’T and still think the worse (we’re all human after all!). Opening up, DOES HELP this, and without opening up I wouldn’t have known how the support from someone else, helps me at that moment in time with the worry but also in the long term with future obstacles. 

I find it best talking to my mum or boyfriend or messaging the girls group chat to see if someone is free to talk. You might too. But you also might not. That doesn’t mean there isn’t support out there. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE seek help. You will not know the benefit of this until you do.



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A problem shared is a problem halved!

Support

Below is some support you can receive from Coventry University relating to counselling and mental health support, which is all confidential and several services are offered:

https://www.coventry.ac.uk/study-at-coventry/student-support/health-and-wellbeing/counselling-and-mental-health-service/

 Tel: +44 (0) 24 7765 8029
Email: counsell.ss@coventry.ac.uk

The ResLife Team also offer Mental Health appointments. To book one email the team on: reslife@futurelets.co.uk

Other Resources

Other resources I find useful:

Always remember, there are several possible outcomes, not just one, and that there is always someone ready and willing to support you! Seek help if you need it! You will not regret it! We all deserve to live as stress and anxious free as possible!

Written by Milena Damjanovic

 

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