Monthly Archives: February 2021

Living With Anxiety

Mind racing. A constant wave of negative thoughts. Insecurities and doubts overtake my brain.

I remember my first anxiety attack vividly. I could tell you exactly where I was, who I was with and the reason that sparked the attack. That happened years ago. But since then, I have been in a constant downhill battle against my own brain. 

One might wonder what exactly those thoughts are that swirl around in my mind, banging louder and louder until they are heard. They are my worst fears. They are random scenarios that my brain decides to make up and then convinces me will happen. They are sad and lonely voices. 

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, people with generalized anxiety display excessive worry about a number of things such as relationships, athletics, school and everyday life. Some anxiety symptoms include restlessness, insomnia, irritability, and difficulty focusing. 

Although feelings of worry and occasional anxiety are completely normal to most people, an overwhelming number of individuals suffer from more than an occasional nervousness. 

Anxiety is prominent in all ages and genders. However, anxiety within a college campus reigns high. In the fall of 2018, the National College Health Assessment surveyed college students from around the United States and reported 63% of individuals having experienced an overwhelming amount of anxiety. It was also stated that 23% reported seeking treatment from a mental health professional. 

However, 2018 was pre-pandemic, and the added stress of virtual learning, social distance and masks had not been dealt with yet. A small survey was done on Texas A&M students in May of 2020 discussing added stress and anxiety due to COVID-19. Out of a survey of 195 students, 138 of them reported extreme anxiety as a result of the pandemic — 71% of students began experiencing anxiety. 

Anxiety is a serious mental illness that fails to be acknowledged most days. If an individual or friend reports feeling anxious or worried, the many people respond, “Hey don’t stress everything will be okay.” If someone suffers a severe cut and arrives at the emergency room ready for stitches, a doctor replying, “Hey stop stressing about it, it’ll be alright,” would not suffice. 

Although anxiety is not a visible illness, it should be taken just as seriously as an open gash on a leg. Pain should not be overlooked regardless of whether it is mental or physical. So instead of repressing the matter, the focus should be on directing individuals towards the appropriate help they need. 

The best advice that helped me manage, maintain and grow with my anxiety is talking about my feelings. Whether that involves a friend, family member or counselor. The more bottled up emotions become, the harder they are to let go of and to move on from. If you or someone you know suffers from anxiety the most helpful thing to do is to support them by being available to talk and listen. 

However, when more serious actions are needed, consult an authoritative figure. Every college campus has counselors waiting to help at any moment. Resources regarding counseling can come from professors but can also be found online.

Living with anxiety is challenging, but you are never alone. Millions of others are fighting the same battle every day, and countless resources are available to help. Mental illness is not something that should be ignored. Do not be afraid to seek help. 

Remember to Give Yourself a Break, Student-Athlete Edition

Sleep. Eat. School. Athletics. Repeat.

For most college athletes, their life revolves around their sport. When a college athlete is not in the classroom grinding their academics, they are on the field grinding out their sport. Spare time is never guaranteed for a college athlete.

Under current NCAA rules, student-athletes are not supposed to spend more than 20 hours a week on required athletic activities. Most college coaches maximize those 20 hours with two-hour practices five times per week, as well as daily weight training up to four times per week. 

Twenty hours of athletics per week can become overwhelming when classes already take up most of the day. In order to be considered a full-time student, individuals have to take 12 credit hours, which equates to about four courses. Most students take on a heavier load which tends to be 15 to 18 credit hours per semester. Altogether, school and athletics can take up 32 to 38 hours of a student-athlete’s 168-hour week.

In a 2018 survey conducted by Duke University, students reported having about 17 hours of homework, reading and studying per week. That does not even include the bare necessities of life, such as sleep and eating. An average amount of sleep for a college student is estimated to be six to seven hours based on research from the University of Georgia. As a complete calculation, adding in school, sports, sleeping and eating, student-athletes average 91 to 104  hours of occupied time. 

After determining student-athletes’ schedules, it becomes easier to understand the pressure these students face. College and sports are very demanding activities that consume individuals’ lives. It is important for student-athletes to take downtime to relax and focus on themselves. Stresses including family, finance, social and personal issues impact students daily. If these busy student-athletes do not take time to unwind and relax, then more stress will accumulate in their lives.

According to the American Psychological Association, when stress is ignored, symptoms including insomnia, anxiety and digestive issues arise. Even extremes such as heart disease and diabetes can occur. 

Great stress relievers include getting more sleep, socializing with friends, meditating and finding ways to manage time successfully. It is very important that student-athletes find a healthy balance between their activities and downtime. Finding a way to relax and relieve the pressures of day-to-day life is beneficial to mental and physical health.Individuals who are experiencing stress due to the demands of being a student-athlete can always seek help through friends, family and college faculty. Resources regarding stress relief can be found within school faculty means such as counseling. Student-athletes should not feel disparaged for seeking help; managing and reducing stress will improve livelihood. 

Editorial: Piedmont College Cafe needs to add some spice

As we begin another week on campus of busy classes, balancing assignments, tests, athletics or other extracurricular activities, the last of our worries should be, “What type of day will it be at the cafeteria?”  

The staff at the cafe work tirelessly day in and day out to provide students breakfast, lunch and dinner. However, some days we feel like nothing has been given to us in return. Every day is the same food, often lacking flavor and variety. Our daily hot meal consists of chicken and rice, along with our daily pizza and pasta. Or we can opt for the fried food section of hamburgers and fries. Many students prefer the G8 station.  

The G8 station at Piedmont is supposed to be the healthiest station and is intended for people with food allergies. It is also the line that is the longest. Students have come to learn that not only does the G8 station have the healthiest options, its food has the most seasoning and tastes the best. Every day, the station prepares a meat, a starch and a variety of wholesome vegetables for students.  

In high school we were limited to what kind of food that was “allowed” due to local, state and federal guidelines. But we are no longer in high school, and expect to be treated as adults, including the cafeteria food we have to eat.  

If Piedmont puts the same effort into each station as they do with the G8 station, the cafe would be more pleasing to not only students but also faculty.  

What kind of day will it be at the cafeteria? Our hope is that question won’t have to be asked anymore. While our plate is jam-packed with classes, tutoring, practices, clubs and so much more, the last of our worries should be if our plate in the cafeteria will have good food. 

Orphan

One of the things I can remember is the smell and sight of the room that my parents adopted me in.  

One big room with at least 30 air mattresses and toys. There was writing on the walls and carpet stains, but the room smelled like fresh coconuts. Still to this day, occasionally, I will get a whiff of the smell.  

This was the room where I first met my adopted parents. 

The dictionary definition of the word “orphan” is, “a child whose parents are dead” But mine are not.   

Being adopted from Bucharest, Romania at a young age of 2, I always grew up being the outsider. I had no choice but to “fit in,” despite having a different skin color than my adopted parents, a different accent, different hair color, facial features and just an overall different appearance. Some days it was hard, but other days I was just a “normal” kid like everyone else.   

Growing up was hard, needless to say. Never resembling my parents, people questioned me all the time if I knew I was adopted, even calling me “foreign” to this day. Do I look back? Absolutely not.   

Flashbacks come and go. Playing on the playground and hearing kids laugh and scream feels just like yesterday. I’ll be outside walking around the park and hear the voices in my head of the kids that I learned to like and grow up with. It’s all a blur but some days are better than others. It’s kind of like going through dialysis, some days you wake up feeling good, other days you wake up in a mood.   

As I grow up, I finally understand the true meaning of “orphan.” It’s embracing all the bad times that people make fun of you. It’s being able to open up and be passionate about your past. It’s about proving everyone wrong who looked down on you. To me the meaning of an “orphan” isn’t about your parents being dead, it’s about embracing the opportunity to live for them.

My parents are still with me. And, when I smell coconuts, I know my parents are looking down at me with tears of joy.