I have always had an anxious personality, but it wasn’t until I had been in college for a couple years that I realized how my anxiety was negatively affecting me. I could tell it was starting to get worse the older I got and as I had to start making bigger life decisions. I would panic every time it came time to make a decision. Sometimes I felt like I was incapable of making decisions because I would just shut down every time something uncomfortable happened or anytime I had to try to do something hard.
As I kept feeling this anxiousness more and more frequently, I knew something needed to change. I knew I didn’t like feeling anxious, and I knew I wanted to do something to fix it. My friend suggested going to a counselor, but I immediately rejected the idea. I think deep down, I really did want to go to therapy, but I had too much pride. Even though I thought it sounded like it could be a good idea, I wanted to be able to deal with the anxiety on my own.
I decided to start reading some self-help books about anxiety and how to cope with it. For a time, the self-help books I was reading really did help. They gave tips and strategies on how to cope with anxious feelings or panic attacks. I was willing to change, and I was really paying attention to the things the books were saying and trying to apply the coping mechanisms into my life when I felt stressed and anxious.
The thing with my anxiety is it’s mostly situational, and there are times when I will do really well and not feel anxious for a long time, and then other times it seems like something happens to make me feel overwhelming anxiety every day. It’s hard because sometimes when I have done well for a long time I think I have my anxiety under control. Then something happens and I feel super anxious again, and it makes me feel like I’m back to square one.
Finally, last summer I had a breaking point. My anxiety got out of control, and I completely shut down. I just couldn’t handle how I was feeling. Although I already knew a couple years earlier I needed to do something to help with the anxious feelings I was having, it wasn’t until this moment, my breaking point, that I finally decided therapy could help me.
It wasn’t that I didn’t want to go to therapy, it was that I didn’t want to admit I had a problem bad enough to have to go to therapy. I finally decided I’d rather admit to having a problem and at least try to get the help I needed to be happy than to just continue thinking I could handle it on my own.
I started seeing a counselor weekly. Honestly, I wasn’t sure how much therapy would help. I didn’t go because I knew it could solve all my problems but because I figured at this point it was worth a try.
I’m so glad I hit that breaking point, because therapy has changed my life.
I fully admit I have anxiety, and I know I’m not the only one. According to the organization Anxiety & Depression Association of America, Generalized Anxiety Disorder affects 6.8 million adults. A 2020 report from the Center for Collegiate Mental Health said anxiety and depression are the two most prevalent challenges students who are being treated for mental health deal with. The report shows 24.1% of college students said anxiety was their top concern, while 18.3% said depression was their top reason for seeking help.
I also know a lot of people have worse anxiety than I do, which was why for the longest time I figured I could take care of it on my own. I didn’t want to get help from an outside source because mine just wasn’t “that bad.” But now I fully believe therapy can change anyone’s life if they are willing to try it.
Going to therapy because someone is pushing you may or may not be helpful. Instead, go in willing and ready to change, having a plan of what you want help with and then taking the suggestions you are given and applying them to your life. Making the decision to go to therapy can be challenging, but it is courageous. It’s a choice that can lead to a change. It’s admirable: It shows you recognize something is wrong and you want to change.
There is no better feeling than the empowerment that comes through finding the help you need.
— Kenzie Holbrook