She walked through the door with tears in her eyes.
“Just breathe,” said Treana Taylor, a freshman nursing student from Fort Pierce, Fla., as she guided Ashley Bartley, a senior biology pre-med student from Naples, Fla., who was barely able to stand on her own to a seat.
Bartley grabbed her chest, a reaction to her lungs tightening. The despair in her eyes showed she had lost control of her body because of an unprecedented fear.
“Give her a bag,” Taylor said.
Heaving in the plastic bag helped her gain control of herself.
“It’s hard to breathe,” Bartley said. “I can’t speak. It’s scary. I cry because it’s scary, but it’s also my way of trying to let someone know that something’s wrong.”
When advised to call an ambulance Bartley declined.
“I don’t want to be strapped down and my face covered with anything,” Bartley said. “Especially when I’m already having a hard time breathing.”
Anxiety is the churning feeling in one’s stomach, the feeling of worry or unease, usually about an irrational thought or fear.
The first step to successfully managing anxiety is learning to understand and recognize it.
Porchea Bell, a case manager for the Big Bend’s Homeless Coalition, said anxiety is usually triggered by references of past experiences or fears that some are not able to identify.
“Find that trigger to avoid it being pulled,” Bell said.
Yolanda Bogan, director of FAMU’s counseling services, said not dealing with fears causes anxiety.
“It’s like when you were 3 and you thought the Boogie Man was under the bed,” Bogan said. “But when you finally looked, there was nothing there.”
Bogan said asking for help is one of the biggest solutions to anxiety, and then people can create plans to deal with their anxieties.
“It’s OK to not know it all,” Bogan said. “College is the time to get the kinks and wrinkles out.”
But for Bartley, seeking medical attention is a fear.
“I’m afraid of going to the doctor and finding out that something serious is wrong,” Bartley said. “I’m not mentally prepared for that.”
Sometimes there are simple solutions that can be done to avoid anxiety.
Simone Curry, a second-year theater student from Sarasota, Fla., recognized her anxiety triggers: rehearsals every other night, big crowds to perform in front of and finding a way to maintain a 3.0 GPA.
“I tend to get overwhelmed when I feel limited on time,” Curry said. “When I feel that way, I stop what I’m doing and breathe or listen to my music.”
According to helpguide.org, focusing on breathing takes the attention away from the panic feeling. One should challenge worrisome thoughts with balanced and realistic thoughts. Replace the negative self-talk with positivity and exercise.
“Anxiety causes people to lose control in that moment,” Bell said. “In those same moments you must empower yourself. Find the source and take control of it.”