Finding My Way with Support and Determination
By Madeleine Darowiche
As a college student with anxiety and hydrocephalus, how do I cope with it all? That’s a bit of a tough question to answer, as no one has the same methods. Different things will work for different people.
I began taking medication for my anxiety less than a year ago. I’ve dealt with anxiety for years, but refused to take medication because of the stigmas society has associated with it. It wasn’t until I had completed my first year of college that I realized it would be beneficial. When I first made that choice, I thought I was weak, that I had just given up and taken the easy way out even though I could see the difference the medication made after just a few weeks.
It wasn’t until recently that I came to the realization that it was no different than, say, someone taking medication for the physical effects of hydrocephalus such as migraines or seizures. It is all one and the same. Now, please understand that medication is certainly not a ‘cure all, end all,’ and that I can only speak from my own perspective. It has definitely helped reduce my panic attacks, but it’s not going to fix everything. I’ve still had to put in a lot of work on my own putting myself out there. It isn’t easy, but it has to be done.
Something else that has been vital to me has been support. I am blessed to have an understanding family. Even when she is miles away, my mom has been my biggest supporter. She is always the one I turn to when I need extra support. Knowing that all I need to do is pick up the phone, call her, and talk to her to calm myself down when I am at school is awesome.
I have also formed some strong relationships with faculty and staff members at my school, which have helped me immensely. It’s great to have people at school who understand and can be there for me in person when my family can’t be there. Honestly, I would not be where I am today without their encouragement and support.
I’m still afraid to go to events, meetings, etc., solo. It’s the fear of the unknown and the thought that I might have a panic attack. I am working through it and doing what I can. I’ve been doing better than I was my first year, but still have quite the long way to go. Have I purposely avoided things out of anxiety or fear? Definitely. Is that the best way to tackle it? Probably not, but as I said before, I can only do what I can do. As it is, the events that I have to attend and am unable to miss are often difficult. But I get through them as best as I can. Sometimes I surprise myself and they turn out better than expected. Presentations in class have definitely gotten easier; anticipation is what is most difficult.
Accepting help has definitely proved to be difficult, as I am pretty independent. I learned I can’t do this alone, though. I need that support system. One of the toughest obstacles, in my opinion, is telling friends the things I deal with around anxiety because you never know how people will react or even if they will just leave. It makes me more hesitant to discuss these challenges.
Some may call me an inspiration for the things I deal with, but I would have to disagree. I am just simply living my life and getting around its obstacles. My challenges are menial compared to other things that people go through.
HA Resources for Teens & Young Adults
If you are a teen or young adult living hydrocephalus, or a sibling or friend, we encourage you to check out the Hydrocephalus Association’s Teens Take Charge (TTC) program.
Teens Take Charge (TTC)
HA has created a teen and young adult portal which serves as a place of information and empowerment for youth. Learn more about the resources available by browsing the different pages. Consider this a virtual hangout spot and please email us with suggestions and ideas! HA has also created a place for teens and young adults (ages 12 to 25) to talk via Facebook and Twitter; go check it out! Join us and help create a community of young adults making changes happen!
If you are interested in learning more about the TTC program or would like to become more involved, please contact Megeen White.
Publications and Online Resources
The Hydrocephalus Association has a number of useful resources and publications for teens and young adults. If you haven’t already, we hope you have a chance to read these publications and visit these other organizations online.
HA Publications and Resources
- College and Hydrocephalus
- Health Care Transition Guide for Teens and Young Adults with Hydrocephalus
- Trending Topics for Teens and Young Adults
- Community Voices
- Hydrocephalus Association Scholarship Program
- Hydrocephalus Resource Library (HRL)
- Tips on Managing Anxiety
- Teen Health – 5 Ways to deal with Anxiety
- Tips to Stop Racing Thoughts From Anxiety
- Self-management skills: teens thriving with chronic conditions
- The Anxiety Workbook for Teens
- Spina Bifida Association(SBA) SBTween2Teen
- Teens Health
- Living with Anxiety – Anxiety and Depression Association of America