My Struggle with Anxiety – by Adam
My name is Adam. I am 21 years old, and I am currently studying computer science at the University of Memphis. Honestly, I’m surprised I’ve made it this far.
Throughout my life, I have had to deal with intense anxiety especially when having to deal with people. Sometimes it gets to the point that I make up excuses to avoid certain social situations. I even have trouble eating in public and sometimes have to force myself to eat even when not in public. Sometimes, I don’t eat at all causing me to be underweight.
None of this was made better by the fact that, in middle school, I was one of the shortest people in the school and was made fun of constantly for it. I think there was maybe one person who was shorter. This made me extremely insecure about my height (or lack thereof). I felt weak and defenseless. I felt inadequate because I didn’t grow as much as other students. Thankfully, I’ve gotten more at peace with my height recently, but I still feel small when around my friends. Most of them are 6 feet or over and I’m only 5’4”.
Because of my anxiety, I always feel less than everyone else around me. I see them in groups talking and looking so happy, and I sit there was wish I could be that happy. These constant thoughts of inadequacy have led me to suicidal thoughts several times in my life. Sometimes I feel like I’m beyond help and feel that death is the only way to go. My rational side, however, is calling me an idiot for thinking something like that and so far, it’s winning the struggle.
I feel like it’s getting better, however, I still struggle with it sometimes. I almost skipped the first day of classes because I knew that at least some of the professors would make us introduce ourselves to the class, and I hate doing that. Even in the previous semester, meeting with my advisor was hard. I could barely email her to set up an appointment because I was afraid of saying the wrong thing. Even when I set it up, I nearly threw up on the day I was supposed to meet with her just thinking about it.
It doesn’t help much that I live in Mississippi. Most people around me are devoutly religious and some even believe that mental illness is a sign of demon possession. The fact that I’m an atheist probably doesn’t help them see that they’re wrong. Some likely believe that my atheism is the cause of my anxiety.
My parents haven’t been much help either. They refuse to believe that there’s a problem. Anytime I try and talk to them, they just blow it off and tell me to “snap out of it” as if I can just stop being nervous at will. Honestly, I don’t think they really listen to me.
I just hope to keep fighting and maybe one day to get over this completely. I know I have at least some support.