Anxiety is something I’ve suffered with, in various degrees of severity, since I was 10 years old. At the best of times, I don’t even notice it’s there. At the worst of times, I am completely housebound, unable to leave the safety of my room and questioning the point of continuing with life. But you can read all about that here.
Although at times, life with anxiety is unbearable, and it has definitely changed the whole student experience for me, I wouldn’t necessarily wish to be completely free of it. When things are bad, I would pay any amount of money or go to any extreme to not have an anxiety disorder, but when things are going well, it is something I cling to.
Despite the fact it can be a living hell, it is scary to imagine what my life would be like (and who I would be) if I didn’t have anxiety. This has been a huge part of my life for 10 years now, and has influenced a lot of my decisions while growing up. Would my life be anywhere near the same if anxiety didn’t influence every decision?
- For all I know, I could be studying at a completely different university. Although I don’t like to admit it, my choices were influenced by my anxiety of travelling more than 2 hours away from home.
- I could be studying a completely different course! I love literature more than anything, but I really started reading when I was in year 6, as this was a safe and solitary activity that I could do in the times where I was too anxious to let myself do anything else. I would spent around 40-50 minutes reading every evening, and I don’t know if my love of literature would have developed had it not been for that.
- I could be a completely different type of student. Although I’ve not particularly enjoyed the (few) nights out I’ve been on that haven’t been completely overshadowed by the anxious build up to a club, I sometimes wonder if I would be the type of person who enjoys drinking and going out if anxiety hadn’t ruined most of those experiences.
- I could be an entirely different kind of friend. Instead of being that person who keeps themselves to themselves due to being so used to spending a lot of time alone, I could be the social centre of ever group. Instead of being so anxious about unfamiliar locations/activities, and social events that I can’t easily escape from, I could be the person who’s up for anything. I could be the carefree, supportive friend, instead of the one who silently convinces themselves that everyone else hates them.
All of these things would have huge impacts on my life. And I’m not sure how I feel about that. On the one hand, the idea of all of these aspects of my life hypothetically changing is so intense. On the other, if nothing changed, if I was the same person I am now but without anxiety, I think my life would be incredibly empty. I don’t know who I am without it, so it’s comforting to have it there.
My preferences and my attitude to everything could change without anxiety, and that all seems quite overwhelming. Whether it’s worrying about people hating me, or believing that bad things will happen if I listen to a certain song (once even depriving myself of Lana Del Rey for months!!), anxiety is a part of me, and a part I can’t imagine my life without.