My struggle with anxiety

Imagine you’re being chased by a saber tooth tiger. You are unarmed and there is no safe haven. Your heart is pounding and your lungs ache, but you continue to push yourself further. You must survive. That’s the only thought on your mind.

Now imagine that instead of it being a tiger, it’s you. And instead of you running, you sit there unable to do anything. It’s all the time, and it stirs discontent in the pit of your stomach. Well, welcome to the world of anxiety.

Once upon a time, anxiety was a useful thing. In the land of saber tooth tigers, you didn’t know if your next step would be safe. Anxiety is useful in some situations today, but it shouldn’t be there all the time.

Trust me, I would know. But it took me a lot of time to figure that out.

My freshman year, I spent each morning of the first nine weeks of school hunched over the toilet puking up stomach bile. I wasn’t bulimic or sick with the flu or food poisoning. No, I had anxiety.

Illustration by Hana Ghazi

Often, I felt like I was overreacting. That I was being unreasonable. That what I was going through wasn’t a valid excuse to stay home. I’d go to classes and sit there with my stomach launching a war against me. But I wasn’t sick. So I stayed at school. By the end of the first nine weeks of school, I had lost at least 20 lbs.

I think a lot of the time people don’t view anxiety as something debilitating. The term is constantly thrown around like it’s just another common emotion. However, I’ve learned from my own personal experience that anxiety is a legitimate illness. Although it’s often unrecognized as a sickness, my anxiety was still very real.

It took me years to discover that there was something truly wrong within me. I always knew that my response to stress wasn’t normal, but I was convinced I brought this on myself due to being over -dramatic. So when I’d have panic attacks or start vomiting my stomach out, I thought I was weak. I didn’t recognize that it was something I couldn’t control.

I was wrong. Anxiety is a very real and debilitating thing. Anxiety can be different for every person. Triggers and symptoms may be different things, which

may make people feel as though they don’t have anxiety, since they can’t check every box. However, there are many forms of anxiety disorders, such as social anxiety disorders, panic disorders, phobias, general anxiety disorders, etc. And symptoms can be panic, sleep problems, nausea, dizziness, tension and many others, according to In my personal experience, once I recognized my anxiety as a mental illness, I was able to seek help. I went to a therapist who validated what I was going through. After getting on anti-depressants, I realized what life was like without the veil of anxiety. I was finally able to start school without throwing up once. This was a big victory for me. I had finally won the battle against my anxiety.

For those of you dealing with some sort of mental illness, don’t for a moment blame yourself. Instead, realize that it is no different than having the flu or a chronic illness. It is a real and completely legitimate sickness. And fortunately, there is treatment and as for those saber tooth tigers- well, they’re extinct for

a reason.


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