In high school, I did it all – classes, sports, clubs, family time – and I did it well.
When I got to college, I”d expected the same result. I was organized. I was invincible. I was emotionally stable, or so I thought. But college is a stressful time.
Stress can be caused by classes, extracurricular activities and countless other forms of workload. It sounds a lot like high school, but it”s easy to forget that this time can also be stressful because students are growing, not only intellectually, but also socially.
All of this combined can lead to an inevitable breakdown or two – and that”s nothing to be ashamed of, or to downplay.
In the beginning of my first spring semester, I developed anxiety that was so severe I didn”t want to call it anxiety. The word didn”t seem to encompass the dread in the pit of my stomach when I woke up, or how my heart pounded as I laid awake at night.
I lost interest in my schoolwork and stopped eating regularly. In short, I wasn”t myself anymore. But the problem was that I didn”t think I had a reason to feel the way I was feeling.
When I was prodded by a close friend, I scheduled an appointment with the University of Idaho”s Counseling and Testing Center (CTC). After weeks of being unable to explain to friends why I”d lost touch with my usual self, it was time I talked to a professional – but I felt silly making the appointment.
“Counseling is for people with real problems,” I thought. “I have a good life, I just need to snap out of this.”
As it turns out, I did have a serious problem, and it was hindering how I lived my life.
The CTC”s welcoming atmosphere was an immediate comfort. My first visit made me realize that I wasn”t silly to think I needed professional help, and I”ve gone back several times since.
More than being a welcoming on-campus space, the CTC is also free to students. Free – as in no cost. While student fees and university funding keep it running, the cost to the individual student who seeks help is nothing.
More than anything, the CTC”s licensed and training psychologists strive to help students manage anxiety, depression and other ongoing battles long after they”ve left their office. My counselor taught me meditation techniques to help manage my anxiety wherever I am – class, work and especially in the morning when I wake up with that dread in my stomach.
Once, when I told her, “I know I shouldn”t be feeling this way. I should be happy,” she told me that I should try not to tell myself how to feel. Instead, I strive to let myself be overwhelmed or anxious to an extent, but then I work to move on.
By not suppressing my anxiety, I”ve found ways to move past it. Anxiety is still a part of my life, but it does not define me. It is small things like this that have made my experience at the CTC so valuable.
My counseling experience only scratches the surface of everything the CTC offers. It also offers biofeedback services, test anxiety help, grief counseling and much more.
To students like me who are apprehensive to use this resource because it feels like their situation may not merit professional help – make the call anyway. Everyone”s limit is different, and college tends to push all of us to our breaking points at one point or another. That”s what the CTC is here for.