Dear Mesmerizing Meg: I’m 19 and this is my second year living away from home. Last year was fine, but this year I’m always scared and anxious. I do go back home from time to time, and everything seems to be fine when I’m there (or at least okay); but when I’m away, I always have fear for no apparent reason. I feel like something bad is gonna happen most of the time. And there are times, usually at night, that I feel like I’m actually dying. Last night I saw a nightmare and when I woke up, for the rest of the day, I still “felt” the nightmare. I felt like it actually happened and I was scared and had this really unpleasant feeling. It always gets worse at night. What’s wrong with me?
Kind querent: I’m honestly not sure. It could be anxiety, but it could also be a handful of other issues. Although I have no certainty what’s wrong, I do have some suggestions.
- You could move back home, assuming your college is in town.
- You ought to see your college’s campus counselor.
College can be a very stressful transition. My first year of college was pure hell. Don’t feel that you have to push yourself to live in the dorms! It’s okay to live at home and commute. I think that might be best for you.
What I’m concerned about is that you might be taking on too much, e.g., by living away from home. Extreme stress can awaken any underlying health condition, including mental health issues. So you’ve got to make some lifestyle changes that will help keep your life less stressful.
The only other possibility (that I can think of) about what’s going wrong is that your intuition’s screaming at you that you’re not living in a safe environment. Does that sound accurate at all? If so, then you should definitely move home. You’re nineteen. You’ve got your whole life to be independent.