Anxiety Disorders

Dear Lauren,

              I have a small problem. It is my second week of my freshman year of college. I have made some great friends and joined several clubs. I was really nervous about meeting people because I suffer from extreme anxiety in certain social situations. I don’t drink or party, and I think that makes many of my peers avoid me.

              I don’t stay out late. I don’t listen to loud music and disrespect authority. I don’t hang out with dangerous people, and I get straight A’s. I would rather sit at home with close friends, eat popcorn, and watch an old movie, then spend a night getting dressed up, drinking, and going to the bars.

              So far all is going well except for one small thing. My roommate. She is the polar opposite of me. She spends hours blasting pop music while doing her hair and makeup, drinks heavily, uses drugs, and goes out almost every single night. Let me first say this. I really do not mind that she has her own life. I want her to get the most of her college experience, just like me.

              The only problem is she throws these ‘pre games’ in our dorm room at least twice a week. Our room will be full of people I have never seen before. Drinks will be spilled, beds will get unmade, and the toilet seat will get left up. Witnessing this really gives me severe anxiety. My chest tightens up and I feel like I cannot breath. When I tried discussing this with my roommate, she suggested I smoke some pot to relieve my feelings of anxiety and stress.

              I have never been one to try drugs. My parents have told me since middle school that drugs are very bad and that if I am ever caught doing them I will be in huge trouble. I went online and I looked into it. I found that many people use drugs such as marijuana to fight feelings of uneasiness and stress. Do you think that this is something that could work out for me?

Sincerely,

“Just curious”

anxiety disorders

Mental health and stress

Dear “Just curious,”

              It seems as though you may be going through quite a rough time with your roommate. This is all part of college. Doing drugs will not make it any easier on you. By pressuring you into smoking, your roommate is attempting to push the problem under the rug and forget about it.

              When you are feeling symptoms of anxiety such as shortness of breath, or your chest tightening, evaluate the situation that you are in. Do you know anyone in your hall that has a quiet room you can hang out in? What about a common area or the library? It sucks to get kicked out of your own room, but remember you are learning what it is like to be in the real world. Roommates suck sometimes and you have to learn how to problem solve in adult ways. You do not want your problem to get worse and end with you in a recovery treatment center.

Substance abuse

substance abuse

              Have you tried looking into getting a new roommate? You can express your concern with your current living situation with your RA, or with someone who regulates the building. Let them know that you are suffering from an anxiety disorder and that you feel as though it is getting worse with the situations you are having to constantly deal with.

Stress

stress

          Without proper treatment, your anxiety disorder could lead you to trying out drugs or alcohol to curb the side effects. Using dangerous substances to combat mental illness is extremely dangerous and can be deadly. Do not give in to pressures to use drugs, because it can make it much worse. One of my friends suffers from severe social anxiety and she thought that smoking weed could make it better. Instead, it made her much worse and now she gets panic attacks all the time that she cannot stop.

              Learn to deal with your stress in healthy ways.

Best of Luck,

Lauren

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