Studying at University with Anxiety


Trigger warning: anxiety and mental health issues mentioned.

Mental health problems such as anxiety are a serious and common issue, but what is it really like studying with such intense emotions? 

It is no secret that higher education challenges you in new ways that school and college lacked. It is the next level in education as well as the next big step in life. It is what may in the end define and prepare you for the career you have always dreamed to work toward. It could also be the time when you make the friends that you keep for life, mentors that teach you even beyond university, and continually broaden your horizons. This amount of pressure to succeed takes a lot out of you, especially if you’re someone who also has the constant weight of anxiety pulling you down.

Put simply, for some people anxiety feels like a constant dilemma being replayed again and again tirelessly in your mind. There are two heavy options playing tug-of-war against one another, in which the options make your heart heavy with multitudes of emotions either way. 

You may feel that without the mental diagnosis of the situation that everything would be much simpler, there would be more opportunities, more success even, but with such a feeling pulling your spirit down at the worst of times, you risk these "opportunities". You're tired of everything constantly feeling too much, of constantly over-analysing a problem that may never be a problem. You see these worst-case scenarios in your head and they seem more grotesquely realistic, with more of a chance of occurring than not occurring. It is crying from frustration and physical strain pulling at your chest at the crack of dawn, it is having a breakdown amongst a tightly packed crowd, it is fearing the worst, neglecting your best features; this is anxiety and it’s not fun.

As someone who has personally completed three full years of a university degree all the while suffering from anxiety, I can tell you, although everyone experiences anxiety differently, it tires you and it can affect your studies in more ways that one. In my first year, as with most other students just starting out, I shied away from my parents and moved into our first ever living space, living on my own to study far away from my homes. Already this is a big leap; it means to be independent but also not to forget to rely on your social abilities to get some tasks done, especially when moving to somewhere completely new. It’s big, different and disorientating for someone like me who has anxiety, who not by choice cannot go willingly to every social party to get to know new people at the university. This was just the living standards, but the other half of the time you would spend there, you would be studying.