Here’s What No One Tells You About Having Anxiety At University
"You worry that everyone is having a better time than you are..."
[Editor's note: Anxiety affects everyone differently. Although this list represents only one experience, we hope you find some solace in knowing others might be going through what you are.]
1. You desperately want to make new friends but you worry too much about making a fool of yourself to strike up conversation.
2. You want to pay attention in class but the number of people crammed into your lecture hall makes you feel nervous.
3. You're constantly scared that you'll sound stupid or dumb when your tutor calls on you.
4. You're scared you sound lame and boring when coursemates talk to you.
5. You want to go out and party but you know you'll spend most of your time worrying about how crowded it is.
6. You'll also worry about the small things: What to do with your hands, what you're going to talk about, whether people will just wonder why you're there.
7. You want to be super-organised and plan your uni work ahead of schedule but the amount of work gives you a paralysing sense of dread.
8. You swear by making in-depth to-do lists but you put yourself down if you don't finish the entire list.
9. You worry that everyone is having a better time than you are.
10. You can't help but feel that everyone's in on something you're not – how are they ALL having that much fun? How do they all have it together?
11. You want to let your tutors know you've prepared for class but you're too nervous to speak up.
12. And when you do, you spend a lot of time worrying that people think you're a massive know-it-all.
13. You feel sad when you don't get invited to things but you know you probably wouldn't turn up anyway.
14. You feel nauseous all the time, not because you're hungover or you've partied too hard but because your anxiety is getting the better of you.
15. And then you're worried you might actually be ill and the nausea worsens.
16. You can't get to sleep and it's hard to keep your eyes open in class the next day.
17. You're scared shitless about the future and you worry that everything you've accomplished until now is insignificant.
18. You constantly fear that you're a fraud and one day you'll be "found out".
19. Your excuse for not socialising is: "No one likes me anyway."
20. With the friendships you do have you worry a lot about messing them up: "Am I too annoying? Did I piss them off? Am I too clingy?"
21. You're prone to panic attacks where you genuinely feel like your world is about to end.
22. And it's impossible to describe those attacks to anyone.
23. While everyone is downing coffee to stay awake, you know caffeine is going to make your anxiety much worse.
24. You feel out of breath and dizzy even though your health is perfectly fine.
25. You sometimes wonder if your brain is actually your enemy, making up all these worst-case scenarios in the midst of an exam, date, or one-on-one meeting with your tutor. Why now, brain? WHY?
26. You want to get help, but you don't quite know were to begin.
But you can get help. You’re not alone.
The symptoms of anxiety vary from person to person but talk to your GP if worrying and obsessive thoughts are affecting your daily life.
You can call the Anxiety UK infoline here: 08444 775 774.
Most campuses have a university counselling service that's free and confidential. They are there to help you gain understanding and insight into your anxiety, and together you can come up with a treatment plan.
If you're in Australia you can learn more about depression by checking out the resources at BeyondBlue Australia or ReachOut. If you are dealing with thoughts of suicide, you can speak to someone immediately at Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14.