Overcoming Anxiety with help from Friends

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When I was young, I was diagnosed with a Separation Anxiety Disorder. I would cry every time I left the house and when my parents left the house. I was scared of trying new things and meeting new people; even going to school was a struggle. As I aged and began therapy, my anxiety was no longer constant but could be triggered by an event or a scary thought. I was managing.

Years later, I was packing for my first semester at college and although I was was excited for college and to start my adult life,  nothing seemed scarier to me than being away from the comfort of home for months. How could I survive without my mom to calm me down? What if I don’t make friends? Or what if my roommate hates me? Questions and doubts plagued me for weeks. My appetite depleted, my bursts of OCD (which is often accompanied by Separation Anxiety Disorder) would flare up and I had trouble sleeping.y Any excitement I had for this new stage in my life was was heavily clouded by anxiety.

August 24th eventually arrived, and I sat in my car that was driving away from my house, my puppy, and the people that understood me more than I understood myself. It took every ounce of strength inside me to not scream, “turn the car around!”I knew that with each mile we drove I was moving  further and further away from my comfort zone. I knew that this was the path I needed to follow; that going to school would be a good and necessary step for me. So I tried to stay calm as the minutes passed, one by one. Soon enough we arrived to campus, we unloaded the car, and reloaded in my new dorm room. The moment I was dreading the most came and I walked by parents back out to their car and they drove away from campus, leaving me on my own. I knew that millions of people my age did this every year. I knew that most students, whether returning to school or arriving for the first time, must feel similarly and have a hard time saying goodbye, but the universality of this moment didn’t make it any easier. I walked across the quad to my dorm, trying to hold back the tears.

And then the most unexpected thing happened. I became more comfortable with each new day I was okay — imagine that! I. Was. Okay. I could do this, I could handle this. I made a few very close friends with whom I confided  my anxieties. I told them of my fears, my disorder, my triggers. They helped me in ways I never thought were possible. And they shared the same with me. They helped me to understand that I wasn’t alone — I am never alone.

I formed a familial bond with my new University friends and the friendships are what guided me through any anxieties. My friends became my family and family is everything. If I ever had a flare of worry, I went to them and they would talk me through it and calm me down. I could share every thought in my head with them without concern of judgement. Even when I knew my anxieties was not warranted, I could trust my friends with my feelings and I knew they would never judge me..

Finding good friends in any stage of life is not just a matter of luck. If you are strong enough to be vulnerable and share with the good people around you, they will respond with comfort and love.  Strong women help build other strong women. I discovered how to to fight my inner demons because of my friends. And I have my friends because we trusted each other enough to share our lives and hearts with one another. Their unconditional love and support propels me to succeed.

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