How A Penn State Student Managed His Anxieties

Editor's note: Thank you, Stan for sharing your insightful journey of overcoming your challenges with anxiety in college. 

I am the author of a popular book, Managing Fear. I have struggled with anxiety and fear for over 20 years. My first struggles with fear and anxiety began when I started school at Penn State University during my freshman year.


Many college students used alcohol to help manage their stresses and anxiety of college. As many people may know, some college students like to drink when they go to various parties on the weekends.  I enjoyed going to these parties and having fun with my friends. The only problem was that some of my friends would try to get me to drink with them. I usually told them that I was not interested in drinking when I went to these parties. Eventually, my friends decided that I wasn’t going to drink and they soon accepted the fact that I would not drink when I hung out with them.  

During my time at Penn State, I was a constantly worried about whether I would pass my classes and graduate.  I worried about everything, and there were times that my fears and anxieties would overwhelm me to the extent that I would have some panic attacks. In addition to dealing with fears and stress, I had to take many classes that were very difficult. I was constantly worried about achieving decent grades and making friends so I would not to feel isolated.

When I was getting panic attacks, I immediately started talking to a mental health counselor at Penn State during my freshman year. Talking to a professional helped, but my fears still overwhelmed me. There were times I felt like I would have to drop out of school.

I struggled with these fear related issues during all five years at the main campus. When I hung out with my friends on the weekends, I remember going to the parties and seeing a lot of people drink a lot of beer help to relax and unwind.  During those times, I could have used alcohol to help overcome my fears and anxiety, but I felt that there was a better way to overcome my anxiety related issues. I knew that using alcohol was a temporary fix and would just make my issues worse. I also knew the dangers of drinking too much alcohol. I knew it was not a good thing to drink so much that you are not aware of what is going on around you.


I eventually realized I would have to find another way to overcome my fears and anxiety. In addition to following the advice of my counselor at Penn State, I took it upon myself to learn as much as I could in finding ways to manage my fears. I read books and every time I had a panic attack, I would learn from my experiences. I would learn what worked and what did not work in managing my anxieties and fears so I would be better prepared the next time around. I also made a lot of phone calls to talk to my family back at home which really helped. I also did a lot of running and walking to help relieve the stress and anxiety that I had every day. I took a proactive approach in managing my mental health issues instead of making excuses. It was very tough and challenging, but I got through it over my five years at Penn State.

By reading about my college experiences, here are some lessons to be learned for anyone who is in recovery or who is struggling with drugs and alcohol. The point is that drugs and alcohol are not the answers to overcoming your fears and anxiety. Many people think that drugs and alcohol will fix their problems but that is not the truth.

Another point to consider is that there are much more effective ways in dealing with your mental health issues. The most important thing to do is to follow the advice of a professional counselor or addiction counselor. It is also important to make the effort in learning the most effective ways in solving your mental health issues. The answers will not come to you. You have to take the initiative in getting better. In addition, making excuses and blaming others will not help get your life back on track.

Finally, your situation is not hopeless, regardless of how you may feel or think.

I had a lot going against me at Penn State, however I was able to make it through with a lot of hard work and making the right decisions. You can also overcome your situation like I did if you make a real effort. Following the advice of a professional is the first step in the right direction. Taking it one day at a time and learning from your experiences will go a long way in your recovery. Persistence and patience is also key. Joining a support group can also be of great assistance.  Remember that you are not alone in your recovery. Help is available and you can get better if you work at it like I did when I was at Penn State.

- Stan Popovich
Pittsburgh, PA, USA

More about Stan: 


Stan Popovich graduated with a background in computers and business. He is the author of "A Layman's Guide to Managing Fear Using Psychology, Christianity and Non Resistant Methods" - an easy to read book that presents a general overview of techniques that are effective in managing persistent fears and anxieties.

In his free time, Stan loves to go on runs and walks, or spend time with friends and family. When he isn’t writing, you can catch Stan reading the newspaper or playing on his computer.

Stan’s main goals are to help others with their mental health struggles, and to manage his fears and anxiety. For additional information on Stan check out his website here.

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