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Opinion: No shame in seeking help with stress

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I was a perfectionist in high school.

Convinced I would never do well enough, I’d leave assignments until the last possible moment because they made me so anxious. I’d have panic attacks in the morning when my assignments weren’t done.

Eventually my parents forced me into counselling because they could see how badly I was hurting. Thank goodness they did. With that help, I managed to push through and graduate at the end of the year.

I started my undergrad away from home full of hope, positivity and a sizable chunk of delusion.

Vanessa Szpurko
Vanessa Szpurko

While being optimistic wasn’t wrong, my mistake was telling myself anxiety was a thing of the past, something I had “gotten over.”

Eventually I returned to self-sabotage. I was so afraid of failing I couldn’t even try — and so I failed three classes. I barely passed others. It seems backwards that I failed because I was afraid of failing, but that’s what happened.

Coming back

I hit rock bottom. I was depressed, sleeping all day, barely eating and never leaving my room. I knew I needed counselling again. It was through the help I got there I managed to get back on my feet and gain some perspective.

Anxiety and depression resulting from school stress are nothing to be ashamed of. So many students feel like being anxious or depressed means they haven’t been able to hack it, that they’re disappointments. Seeking help when you feel like that is an incredibly brave thing to do. Admitting you’re in pain is strength, not weakness.

Getting over school stress once doesn’t mean it won’t come back again, and that’s okay too. Counselling can help you realize your stress triggers and signs and find effective ways of dealing with them.

You don’t have to be at your worst before you seek help. There is no required amount of stress you have to feel before it’s acceptable to get counselling.  Even regular check-ins when you’re feeling fine can keep you balanced.

Allow yourself to acknowledge that your stress is real and meaningful, and you’ll come out the other side a more self-aware and happier person.

I know I did.

Reported by Vanessa Szpurko

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