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Anxiety This forum is for seeking advice on anxiety and stress related issues.

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  (#1 (permalink)) Old
St.Vincent Offline
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Name: Edna
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Anxiety and What the Hell - December 30th 2009, 08:46 PM

It's been so long since I've posted a thread... ok here we go.

I'm 18, and I think I've had anxiety issues all my life. The saddest thing about this is that until this year, I have never gotten help for my anxiety because I grew up in a family where freaking out and pushing yourself to the brink of your sanity is, sadly, normal and almost expected. So I always assumed I needed to be pushed to perform well, because in my unpushed condition, I was somehow--bad and lazy, and just horrible.

Being pushed: my dad made me manually recopy The Wizard of Oz at the age of 8. I went to 7 different schools before high school, and was expected to magically fill in all the gaps in my education. My dad used to "study" with me for math and physics and if I didn't get something, he would scream at me and sometimes hit me. My parents would always compare my education in America with their European education, and the education in America was always deemed laughably easy, so if I didn't ace everything it was considered unacceptable. My mom taunts me by reminding me that once, I used to think that a B was "above average". I am 18 and my mother still thinks she needs to choose my courses for me in college and whenever I say I don't agree, my parents say they will cut my funding.

Result: I am currently attending an Ivy League university, doing a professional career in something I totally do not want to do anymore because the education is not working for me. I never like any of my work in college, I never think the stuff I am doing is acceptable, even though my parents aren't there to tell me so. I am miserable and I don't sleep at night because I literally do not think I deserve to sleep because my results are so bad. Sometimes I get this feeling that I am a total failure and... I dunno, I have a hard time breathing and talking, and I just feel like my lungs are being filled with sand. My hands shake uncontrollably, and my first thought it "how the hell am I going to finish this elevation". Despite all of my "success" I feel.. I feel like I'm not good enough, and I feel like I don't want to do this inhuman shit anymore.

My 18th birthday present to myself was to enroll in counseling in my university. I think, even though I still have these pit-of-doom-anxiety attacks, I have made some progress. I have realized that my parents, themselves, have a lot of anxiety and they take it out on my a lot, and some of the episodes in my childhood were pretty traumatic. I also realized that no matter what I do, I won't be good enough for them, and I won't be good enough for myself until I learn to be more human to myself. I was really scared that if I started being nice to myself, I would just take a dive into the dark and become the lazy horrible person that I thought I was () but I didn't. I finished the semester reasonably well, in spite of the fact that my roommate and close friend had a mental breakdown and attempted to commit suicide in the middle of finals--but as soon as my courses for my major ended, I was like I never want to come back to this again.

It was so unhealthy and competitive, and given the fact that I already had this pre-existing anxiety.. I just felt ten times worse. I don't think I can even do 5 years of that without breaking down. I'm just trying to, you know, change majors to something that's easier and SOMETHING I AM MORE INTERESTED IN which, might I add, is still a very profitable and viable undergraduate major (it's not like I want to study ancient history or something) and... naturally dad's like I'M NOT PAYING FOR THIS BULLSHIT, YOU ARE SO SPOILED, YOU NEED TO SUCK IT UP AND FINISH WHAT YOU STARTED GOD DAMN IT I REFUSE TO PAY IF YOU CHANGE MAJORS.

ok, but what's better, having loans, or not being able to breathe? Like, I rationally know that he's probably just scared for me and doesn't know how to say it better, and I rationally know I need to suck it up and do what I need to do to be happy and live well...

...but when I think of actually going to the student office and doing an internal transfer, I start panicking again.

So long story (...) short, how should I manage my day to day pangs (other than counseling which I am already doing). I don't want to medicate, and I don't want to suck it up and ignore the fact that I am so scared I can barely breathe... can I train myself to work through the pangs before they build up and make me feel sick?

I am waylaid by Beauty. Who will walk
Between me and the crying of the frogs?

(My PM box is always open.. if I can't help you, I'll find someone who can)
  (#2 (permalink)) Old
Katrina Offline
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Re: Anxiety and What the Hell - December 31st 2009, 11:38 AM

Hey Edna,

Oh lawsy, I'm so sorry that things are such a mess up at school, lately. I'm so glad, though, that you're getting therapy and that you think it's helping. That's really amazing; I think that it's so great that most universities these days offer free therapy to any students interested in it.

Okay, so I don't know if I'm crazy here, (I mean, I clearly am), but I feel like maybe you should start by taking a visit to the Career Development Center your school offers and maybe getting yourself an interest inventory to fill out and see what you truly would be able to succeed at. Honestly, if you're not happy with your major but aren't going to change because of your dad's threats, I hate to say it, but I've a feeling you've got a very empty life ahead of you. I definitely think you should change regardless of whether he'll pull the plug on financially assisting you or not. I had a very, very smart economics teacher in high school who was completely against any kind of loans except on a house and education - those two kinds of loans, he was all for! So, I don't know - to me, that definitely says something, but I think you might have to know him for his wisdom to actually impact you.

Just know that you're probably more successful than liiiike 90% of people around the whole wide world (including people who have already graduated, most likely). Seriously, where you are now is just amazing, and the fact that you're making such great grades at an Ivy League school? That's awesome. Nonetheless, though, it shouldn't have to be like this - with you feeling like you're suffocating. That's not how college is supposed to be. (: I looked up techniques for coping with anxiety, which I would encourage you to do since this is such a prominent thing in your life. I liked this one:

Laugh: Don't take your life so seriously. A sense of humor helps overcome worry by distracting the mind. Laughter may also produce endorphins, which help ease pain and offer a sense of relaxation and joy. Tell a joke, watch a comedy, and laugh when disaster strikes. You'll feel better with a smile on your face.
Laughing is always good. Anyway, have you and your parents ever considered any kind of family therapy? I think it would definitely benefit all of you and work on your relationships (in a healthy way, rather than with lots of yelling and hitting, which is not okay). I have a feeling they might be opposed to this, but I thought I'd bring it up all the same.

Best of luck figuring everything out, Edna. PS: I'm going to move this little guy to our Anxiety sub-forum that was just created. I think your thread will be the first one in there. YAY. [: [Though, not yay at the same time, but you know what I mean].

Lots of love being sent your way from little old Alabama. Hang in there!

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  (#3 (permalink)) Old
St.Vincent Offline
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Re: Anxiety and What the Hell - December 31st 2009, 03:39 PM

I think I need to move to Alabama, seriously eff the north east and their ivy.

As for changing majors, I have such an awesome vision of what I want to try next, and I'm going to visit the school I'm thinking about going to for grad school, or transferring for undergrad in a couple weeks to sort of play my idea--this I am excited for.

The thing that gets to me is that I feel constantly crippled by fear and anxiety, like, waking up at night with sharp pangs of just fear and being not-good-enough, and I realized rationally that I am good at a lot of things and that I am a strong enough character that I will do what I want, I just hate that this anxiety is something that I got that my parents refuse to even realize is, you know, bad. Because they obviously think that it's the only way to get by. And that's really terrible.

A lot of me now is about standing in my truth about being healthy and making choices right for me, I guess I just get discouraged when my mind/body spiral out of control and do their own thing.

Hooray for the new subforum.

I am waylaid by Beauty. Who will walk
Between me and the crying of the frogs?

(My PM box is always open.. if I can't help you, I'll find someone who can)
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Cool Re: Anxiety and What the Hell - December 31st 2009, 03:51 PM


Sorry you've been struggling with so much anxiety. I have OCD and PTSD so i'm firimilar with the struggles anxiety can bring.

It might be helpful for you to try to identify some things that increase your anxiety so you can work with your counselor to see how you might be able to best adress your biggest stressors, such as possibly exposing yourself to situations which provoke anxiety again and again until your reaction of fear is lessened.

Here's some of my favorite ways to deal with anxiety in the short term:

playing with clay, rubbing a stone i keep in my pocket, coloring in coloring books.

when I have a worry thought, I found it very helpful to say to myself "I am not thinking about (insert worry thought here). I am doing a body scan." and then quickly note how I'm feeling in my body (tense? heart racing? butterflies in my stomach? ) paying attention to my body, even if it was just for 20 seconds helped me focus on something other than the thoughts, and then i would go right back to what i was doing.

square breathing
take very slow deep breaths. inhale for two counts, then exhale for two counts. as you count inhale one two, exhale one two picture a side of a blue square forming (or any other calming color) for each count in your mind. so each inhale is two sides of a square, and each exhale istwo sides, creating a full square.

Lie quietly and say to yourself, "I see 5 things, I hear 5 things, I feel 5 things," and then you go to 4, then 3, then 2, then 1. So the way you might do it is, "I see a TV, the ceiling, the dog, my hand, and the newspaper. I hear the wind, my breath, the clock ticking, the dryer and the dog's tail thumping. I feel my head on the pillow, my heart pounding, my eye blinking, my left leg on top of my right leg, and sadness." Then you do it again but with a list of 4 things. By the time you get to one thing, your mind is pretty focused on trying to think of things for your lists and so you've stopped concentrating so much on the anxiety. Lots of the time I get lost around about 3 because the anxiety is gone.

In this technique, you form mental images to take a visual journey to a peaceful, calming place or situation. Try to use as many senses as you can, including smells, sights, sounds and textures. If you imagine relaxing at the ocean, for instance, think about the warmth of the sun, the sound of crashing waves, the feel of the grains of sand and the smell of salt water. You can also use visualization to imagine yourself doing well in an anxiety provoking situation- a sort of mental rehersal.

if you are at home and the anxiety is really strong try filling up a large bucket or bowl with ice water and sticking you face in it as long as you can, or taking a very cold shower for 5 minutes. the extreme cold makes it very hard to focus on the worry thoughts

It sounds like you have a lot of performance anxiety. Increasing your self esteem may also lessen this anxiety in the long term:

you could try doing something that makes you feel more in control or better about youself. challenge yourself to take a small step towards one of your goals. do something difficult but realistic like working out, studying, etc or do a chore around the house/make cookies for an elderly neighbor to make you feel good about yourself.

start a grateful journal where everyday you write down three: good things that happened/ things that you accomplished/ are grateful for/ made you smile.you can even put in photographs. but make sure the journal is strictly for positive things. then when you feel down you can go back and look at it.

make index cards out of pretty paper and write down at least 10 positive affirmations/quotes that you can read every night before bed such as:
Positive Mind/Body AffirmationsI handle stress and tension appropriately and effectively.

I can effectively handle any situation that comes my way.

I am a wonderful and worthy person.

i am more than good enough.

"like dust i'll rise" mays angelou

"failure is not falling down but staying down"

at the end of the day the fact we still have the courage to remain standing is reason enough to celebrate" greys anatomy

"You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.
-Maya Angelou

Great job for going forward with counseling!
You're Not Alone!


When the patient's body has betrayed them,
and all the sciencewe have to offer has failed them,
when worst-case scenario comes true,
clinging to hope is all we've got left.
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