“Are You Doing Enough?”

Imagine being told that you weren’t doing enough during the Covid-19 pandemic; staying at home, keeping your friends and family safe, and muddling through university assignments is not enough.

No. Apparently, it’s time to focus on our CVs.

A few weeks ago, I received an email from the “Student Futures” department at my university. The email, which started innocently enough, thanked all the key workers for their contributions; as it happens, I’m not a key worker, so I didn’t give it too much attention. That is, until I saw the next part of the email.

Whoever sent the email then went on to say that employers would not be impressed with potential candidates that didn’t have an inspiring answer for the question, “what were you doing during the Covid-19 pandemic?”

Apparently, we need to consider “up-skilling”.

The sender provided all of us “slacker” students with links to available courses. I mean, it’s not like we are trying to finish a degree or anything, is it?

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for people using this time to learn something new – if that’s what they choose to do – but for a university to criticize students for, apparently, not doing enough during this scary time? A time where near-graduates – like myself – are already anxious about what the future holds.

Let’s just say they received a lot of complaints.

The next day, the same department sent out an “apology” email; it was never their intention to imply that students weren’t doing enough, and they hope everyone stays safe and well during this scary time.

I don’t know how the email got approved in the first place.

Life Without Anxiety Makes Me Anxious

I had my first panic attack at fourteen – I prayed that I would never experience anything like that again. At fifteen, when I dropped out of school, mid GCSEs, I longed to be back in a classroom. At sixteen I got my first prescription, and couldn’t wait for the day that I got my last. When I was seventeen, I had to withdraw all of my university applications, and I cried, and I cried, and I cried. At eighteen, watching all of my friends start new lives in new cities, I ached to get better.

Why, then, does life without anxiety make me feel so… anxious?

The first time I had this feeling was bizarre, to say the least. I was at university and about to do a presentation for the first time in around six years. I had had several sessions of hypnotherapy (check out Hypnosis if you like) to get me to that point, but I still held the belief that I couldn’t do it. I just knew that I’d get to the room, get set up, and completely fall apart with anxiety.

I was right about the anxiety, but wrong about the cause.

The first twinge of anxiety started on the journey there. I read over my notes, made sure I had everything in order, but I had the same thought running through my mind, over and over; why wasn’t I having a panic attack?

I slowly typed my username and password into the computer, each key bringing me closer and closer to my biggest fear. What was wrong with me? Why wasn’t I crying, hyperventilating, running from the room?

As I set up the presentation and picked up my notes, anxiety settled in the pit of my stomach. I wasn’t going to have a panic attack. I would have to present.

I realized something about myself that day. I was so sure that I would have a panic attack, and not have to go through with the presentation, that the reality of being able to face my biggest fear caused a new layer of anxiety that I have never experienced before – I was anxious because I wasn’t anxious.

I was used to hiding behind my diagnosis; I used it as a crutch. Oh, you want me to do a presentation? No, thank you. I actually have panic disorder. Did you know? Well, now you do for next time!

Panic attacks were my “normal”. I had gotten so used to experiencing anxiety and panic in certain situations that I actually expected a panic attack to occur, and when it didn’t occur, I had no idea how to handle it. What now? Am I supposed to do the thing? The thing I’ve been avoiding for years? Really?

Of course, anxiety and panic attacks are not that simple. One successful presentation doesn’t guarantee another (I found out just how truthful this statement is not that long ago), but now I have to face my new “normal” of giving things a go.


Has anyone else experienced anything like this? Let me know in the comments if you can relate!

Addiction

This post – like my last post, Paranoia – is based on curiosity and research (thank you, http://www.mind.org.uk) and was submitted as part of a creative university assignment based on mental health conditions.

Anyone struggling with addiction should head over to http://www.mind.org.uk and look through the resources available. There are lists of websites and phone numbers that can offer support to people suffering from addiction.


Addiction is being controlled like a puppet on a string. The strings wrap around my body with the strength of steel cables. No matter how hard I try to claw my way out of their grasp, the puppeteer pulls harder, and I’m flung into the arms of my controller; my vice. I have tried for so long, for too long, to separate myself from this toxic relationship. I know it’s toxic, but I’m in too deep. How could I possibly leave when mere hours of separation makes sweat seep from my pores? My fingers shake with need, itching to grab a cigarette from the pack; rip the cap from a bottle; roll up a fiver and make a line. Chills sweep through my body, rack my frame, and force my body to convulse violently. I hunch over the toilet, clutching the seat in my sweaty hands. I’m too hot. It’s so cold. I brush my matted hair away from my face, flinching in agony. One delicate touch on my sensitive flesh is agony. Everything aches and I know nothing but pain. Excruciating, overwhelming pain. 


OTHER POSTS IN THIS SERIES:

Pale Skin, Green Veins

Pale skin. Green veins. Purple shadows. My face.

Stare at the mirror. Plead for change.

Feel the shame. No escape.

Pale skin. Green veins. Purple shadows. My face.

Feel depression’s cold embrace.

Trapped inside a self-built cage.

Pale skin. Green veins. Purple shadows. My face.

Stare at the mirror. Plead for change.

 

Scattered freckles. Brown eyes. Dark lashes. Red smile.

Stare at the mirror. We share a grin.

Take a deep breath. Feel worthwhile.

Scattered freckles. Brown eyes. Dark lashes. Red smile.

Myself and happiness reconcile.

Finally comfortable in my skin.

Scattered freckles. Brown eyes. Dark lashes. Red smile.

Stare at the mirror. We share a grin.

State of Mind

To struggle to catch a breath

to have a mind that never stops

to spend every night worrying about the next day

to spend every morning worrying about the day ahead

to be lost (inside your own head)

to struggle to get out of bed

to struggle to leave the house

to feel unsafe at your safest

to feel a weight pressing down on your chest (that weight is life)

to feel ashamed of your own mind

to be told to cheer up (depression isn’t real, you’re just upset)

to be told to pull yourself together (anxiety isn’t real, stop worrying)

to hide in a toilet for hours because no one will find you in there

to want help but the doctor makes you anxious

to want help but it’s all in your head

to want help but no one believes you

to feel lonely but want to be alone

to think too much

to think too little

to care too much

to care too little

to be scared.


Inspired by “Some People Know” by Rita Ann Higgins.