Student Life and Anxiety

by Layla

Sorry, I’ve been away for a while, I guess Jerry Springer has been keeping me quite busy! Well, it’s definitely not because of studying hard. As a student, I am very relaxed in general, I am certainly not one of those nerdy types that read day and night (if I did that, I wouldn’t have time for watching all those Jerry Springer shows, now would I?). So stress connected to studying and that kind of stuff is something unknown to me. Sure, I was always aware that students are prone to suffering from high anxiety levels, they are stressed about passing the exams, and there is a lot of pressure to be a high achiever. But I had never experienced it myself, and I never actually knew anyone who was in this situation. Until a few days ago.

I was hanging out with one of my classmates, we were just chilling at home, watching TV. Suddenly he started having difficulty breathing, he said his heart was racing and he even had chest pain. I freaked out. We thought he could be having a heart attack. A quick visit to the doctor showed that it was just a panic attack – the doctor said it’s nothing to worry about and that it happened often to students.

In fact, it turns out that panic attacks are frequently mistaken for heart attacks, sometimes even some doctors have difficulty telling the difference! Some of the main differences it seems are that the panic attack pain is usually localized in the chest area, whereas the pain one experiences with a heart attack tends to radiate to other parts of the body, such as the arms. Also, a panic attack will peak and decline after 5-10 minutes usually, while a heart attack will keep on getting worse as time goes by. Well, I wish we knew that earlier!

Even though this condition is apparently harmless, my classmate was told to take it easy and to try not to stress too much. After all, it’s anything BUT fun to experience another episode of that! Anyway, when the doctor left, I had a heart-to-heart with my classmate buddy. It turns out he was really worried about the upcoming exams, and his parents were pressuring him to pass them. These exams are incredibly demanding and some of the professors are really intimidating, you know, they belong to that I-have-eyes-on-the-back-of-my-head sort.

So all of this had built up and unfortunately led to his first panic attack (and hopefully, his last). I felt bad for the guy, though I couldn’t relate that much as most of my student life consists of watching TV, which I guess makes me stress-free! So I talked to him and suggested trying what I am doing – more TV, less studying!  He smiled and said he will seriously consider my advice. After he went home, I took a shower (did I mention my new awesome water heater from btw?) and I went back to my Jerry Springer episodes.