As I have gotten older, anxiety has just become part of my life, and not always in negative ways.
Trigger Warning: This article series discusses anxiety, depression, and panic attacks.
Note: This is Part 2 of a 3-part series. Click here to read Part 1.
I remember having a very normal and fun senior year of high school. I graduated and went off to UCLA, where I had mild anxiety my freshman year but nothing crazy. It was more just me leaving home and adjusting to the new place and being on my own.
A few years later, during my junior year of college, I somehow got into the same cycle that I was in during my junior year of high school. I never went to class and was literally only able to get out of bed to go to weights and practice, then come home, shower, barely eat, and lay in bed for the rest of the day. I struggled tremendously on travel trips because I was so afraid of flying. But somehow, and in some way yet again, I managed to overcome these months of anxiety and panic. I had a wonderful rest of my college career without, from what I remember, much anxiety after those few brutal months.
I really leaned on my UCLA sports psychologist and my coach, Jenny Johnson Jordan. Jenny was such a great person to lean on, as she had experienced similar issues. It removed the stress of worrying about performance and worrying about what a coach thinks. I was able to fully trust and lean on Jenny, as well as all of my other coaches, for help and support. I also had endless love and support from my roommates, teammates, family, and everyone else who was a part of my journey at UCLA. That made my road far easier than it could’ve been.
Fast forward to now and the last six months of my life. It’s weird to me that I had this extreme anxiety my junior year of high school, my junior year of college, and now another four years later. It almost seems like my mind and body go through this cycle every four years. Maybe it’s my body going through change. When I was in high school and college, I lived in fear, exhaustion, and extreme lack of motivation. I was depressed; anxiety and depression are surely linked!
Some of you may know how exhausting this cycle can be. You feel defeated, helpless, and sometimes useless. But now, I’ve been able to acknowledge that this is something I’ve been through before and something I have overcome many times. That gives me the strength to be less afraid. I still have panic attacks that are so severe I don’t even know how I end up getting out of them. But I am still here, living my dreams of playing professional beach volleyball. Who would have thought…definitely not me.
Lately, I’ve learned just to ride it out. I know now what it is, which is a huge part of why I’ve been able to be such a high-functioning person more often lately, unlike times in high school and college.
As I have gotten older, anxiety has just become part of my life, and not always in negative ways. I think that being such an over-thinker and always worrying actually made me a really good student and athlete. I never thought of my anxiety issues as a positive back then; trust me, it’s taken many years of gratitude practice for that. I have always worried that I’m not doing enough or that other people are training harder than me. I think that pushed me beyond the limits I thought I had. It’s so easy to see the negatives and play the “poor me” game. But F that. I did that for many years, and I am over it. Do I still cry and struggle often? Absolutely. But with years of practice and mental work, I’ve learned to try and find the positives, even when it seems impossible. The key word is try. That’s all we can do, and it’s not always easy.
If you or someone you know is living with panic attacks, anxiety, is struggling emotionally, or has concerns about their mental health, there are ways to get help. You may use these resources to find help for you, a friend, or a family member:
Call 911 if you or someone you know is in immediate danger or go to the nearest emergency room.
988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline
- Call or text 988
- Use Lifeline Chat on the web (English only)
The Lifeline provides 24-hour, confidential support to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. Call or text 988 to connect with a trained crisis counselor.
Disaster Distress Helpline
- Call or text 1-800-985-5990
The disaster distress helpline provides immediate crisis counseling for people who are experiencing emotional distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster. The helpline is free, multilingual, confidential, and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Social Media Concerns
If you are worried about a friend’s social media updates, you can contact safety teams at the social media company. They will reach out to connect the person with the help they need.