Senior reflects about struggle with anxiety

Emma Hall, Managing Editor

My life is a lot more than just GPA, test scores, and my high school transcript. 

That’s the valuable lesson  I learned by the end of my sophomore year. 

I have had chronic anxiety since as long as I could remember. And with the combination of my OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), it only intensified the need to be a perfect student. 

I had compared myself to my peers and their own successes while undermining my own accomplishments.

Because of this, I belittled myself based on my test scores and grades. 

The pressure caused me to dig myself into a bigger hole of intense anxiety attacks, depression episodes, and mental breakdowns. 

In my eyes, I was a failure. 

It had become normal for me to walk into a classroom, feeling panicky even before a lesson had started. I was so overwhelmed with the idea of being successful that if I did not get a high score on a test, lab, or in-class assignment, I was discouraged.

I hid a lot of these feelings because I believed that showing them would make me weak and less intelligent than all of the students around me who seemed to be “keeping it together,” at least on the surface.

Over the years, I have undermined my own happiness and it resulted in much negativity throughout my life. 

Because of my experience these past few years, I feel that it is important to tell my peers that mental health and happiness are more of a priority than academic performance. 

Despite this, it is perfectly acceptable to feel depressed, stressed, or anxious. These emotions are natural and do not make anyone any less of a person. 

But when they begin to become abnormal and life threatening, something needs to be done. 

My negative thoughts did not disappear, even after I left my school life behind. It came to the point where my relationship with my family, my social life, and physical health was affected. 

I was emotionally unstable and, as a result, I experienced dizziness, headaches, fatigue, and nausea. 

Soon, I came to the realization that no matter how hard I studied, or what grades I earned, I was destroying myself. 

As a solution, I began spending more time with my loved ones. 

I told myself that I was not going to subject myself to habits of beating myself down when I did not get the results I wanted. I was not going to push myself to the point of toxicity any more.

My own happiness and self-care were more important than the anxiety that was destroying me and I am quite aware that my own experience is not unusual at Cal High. 

Student stress and anxiety is nothing new to Cal students. The school’s academic climate has created a ridiculously high standard that is unrealistic for many of us to attain.

Many students know about the constant pressure to be academically perfect and have experienced the same feelings I have gone through. 

I have seen my friends go down the same path and some have even become familiar with deteriorating lifestyles. 

I have some advice for those who understand my experience and are struggling. 

Activities such as meditation, exercising, finding a television show you enjoy, listening to music, going on nature walks, or spending time with loved ones are all great ways to help relieve stress. 

It also helps to talk to your doctor about stress and anxiety. 

Having a conversation about these emotions is incredibly impactful for me. Without acknowledging this problem and working toward fixing it, a solution is not possible. 

Unfortunately, stress and anxiety are not emotions that can be easily forgotten.

Being positive and putting my mental health before anything else has helped my anxiety and stress significantly. 

I have also acknowledged my own academic limits and understand that those limits do not make me inferior to other students. Nor does it make anyone else weak. 

Although I have managed my stress and anxiety, it still remains apparent in my life. But it is no longer abnormal. I am able to find ways to escape it instead of letting anxiety control me. 

It has always been important to me to know that I can take pursuit of how I decide to live my life. 

I have chose not to let my own insecurities control the way I live my own life. Instead I enjoy what life has to offer.