I have been dealing with anxiety for a few years now and I am just so tired of it. I’ve probably had anxiety since high school but didn’t really know it until college. I had a really hard time when I went away to school. I was lonely, upset, and stressed so I reached out to the counseling center. I have been seeing the same counselor now since my first semester of college (I will be going into my fourth year in August). I have gone through a few really rough times at school- crying everyday, feeling stressed an anxious even when I was having fun with my friends, just not knowing what to do or how to relax. Going to counseling has definitely helped me, but I feel like I need to do something else because I am still experiencing anxiety after all these years.
Many times the counselor recommended that I consider medication. I was always very opposed to it. One time last semester though I had an appointment during one of my very low points and I just had a complete breakdown to her. I had never cried to her before in all of the years that I have seen her. I think that was the first time I really let her in on all of my thoughts and feelings. During this session, medication was brought up again. I was so stressed that I agreed maybe I could consider it. I did agree to make an appointment to meet with the psychiatrist. The appointment was terrible for me, it was so stressful to have to be open and tell someone I didn’t know all about myself, my thoughts, and my feelings (It took a while for me to do that with my counselor). He officially diagnosed me with generalized anxiety and separation anxiety and did want to prescribe me medication. I decided that I didn’t want it though. I don’t want to have to rely on a pill to make me feel relaxed. I want to be able to handle my stress and just move on. So the idea of medication is out. Last semester I also tried a mindfulness meditation group. That didn’t go so well. It was stressful for me to be in a therapy-like setting with other people. I didn’t feel comfortable sharing my thoughts and going to the meetings caused me a lot of anxiety, so I stopped going to them. It was hard for me to sit in calmness with my thoughts.
Something changed by the end of the semester and I felt I had the anxiety under control and the counselor even said that she didn’t think I needed to see her next year if I didn’t want to. IT was a great feeling. Now, in the summer, my anxiety has returned. I’m going to be a counselor at a camp for a couple weeks and I’m so nervous. I’m scared about being away in an unfamiliar place with people I don’t know. I’m worried about being stressed and having the anxiety kick in while I’m away. Part of me wished I wasn’t even going, yet I’m glad I am because I like to challenge my anxiety. I want to talk to my counselor about this, but I don’t know if she has summer hours or if I can make an appointment since I’m not taking summer classes or anything. I get nervous about calling the counseling center, but I’m going to try and find the courage to do it. I’m so tired of the anxiety coming back after I feel like I have it under control. It’s even more stressful then because then I feel like I’m doing something wrong. I just want to be able to handle my stress and not let it affect me so much.
With all this being said, do you have any advice about how to deal with my anxiety (please don’t suggest medication) or about the situation with camp this summer?
Thank you for asking this question. I admire you resilience in coping with this. GAD and separation anxiety can be difficult to cope with and the courage you are finding to keep looking for answers is quite commendable.
I would make three recommendations the first is exercise. Exercise has a very particular influence on the brain in that it produces BDNF, a protein that helps with transmission of various neurotransmitters in the brain. Here’s an article I’ve written that includes information about this.
The other activity that is getting widespread research and usage is yoga. Almost any style would be helpful, but the practice of yoga tends to be very helpful in coping with anxious feelings.
Finally, you may want to talk to your registered dietitian — particularly one associated with your local health food store. The additive GABA is an amino acid that is not medicine and yet has had some interesting uses treating anxiety. You may want to research this and talk to your counselor about it. Here is some research on yoga and GABA you might find interesting.
I wish you well with this and again I admire your resilience and coping. Keep challenging your anxiety.
Wishing you patience and peace,