The Struggle Of Managing College And Mental Illness
Health and Wellness

The Struggle Of Managing College And Mental Illness

A look into the toll that depression, anxiety, and eating disorders have on college students.

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In high school, I went to therapy for anxiety and depression, and I suffered from anorexia. My environment played a critical role in my declining mental and physical health and I thought that going to college would fix everything.

And for a moment, it did. I had a new environment, a change of scenery, a fresh start. I had enough distractions to keep me from being sad. I was busy enough to ignore my anxiety. I had new friends, new hobbies, new classes - I felt invincible. I gained the (much, much needed) freshman fifteen. I ate in the dining hall with my friends. I went to bed on time and was no longer sleep deprived. I thought all of my problems were solved.

However, life just isn't that easy. The fall semester of my sophomore year, I thrived. I made President's List, got a 4.0 GPA, had an amazing boyfriend, and had incredible roommates and friends. I got my dream campus job. I joined clubs. I kept taking care of myself and things were great.

Until they weren't. Spring semester of my sophomore year was the worst 4 months I've had in a very long time. I had horrible nightmares and insomnia, my grades slipped, I lost 15 pounds, I chickened out of my relationship, I shut my friends out. I tried to go to my school's counseling services and I was put on a waiting list for months. No one ever contacted me to help and I felt so alone. I took one last shot and was able to get into a therapist's office. I met with her three times - the first session was fine, the second session she called me out for not liking her, and the third session she told me she was leaving to go back to private practice and that if I wanted real, constructive therapy I'd probably have to pay for it off campus. I was devastated. Before I left that last session, I asked to see a psychiatrist. After 5 years of struggling, I wanted to try medication.

I waited one month to get an appointment with my psychiatrist. She prescribed me antidepressants immediately because of how greatly I was struggling with anxiety and depression. And for a while, they helped. I slept soundly for the first time in years. I ate real meals. I went to classes, I did my work, I talked to my friends. But then, when my psychiatrist recommended staying on a 3/4 dose of Prozac, I told her I wanted to try a full dose. I was on a full dose for a month before I realized my mistake. I was so void of any anxiety that I didn't even stress - much less care - about school. I stopped doing my work. I stayed up so late every night and took naps everyday. I skipped class again. I let people leave my life without so much as a second glance. I almost quit my dream job.

Somehow, I am now trying to get my life back on track. I am back with my very loving, forgiving, and understanding boyfriend. I still have my job. My true friends never left my side and are being open and understanding with me and my struggles. I am starting to go to bed earlier and attend all my classes. Finals season was a rude wake-up call, and I'm sure my GPA will reflect that, but a late wake-up call is better than none at all.

To make a long story short, college is hard. College with mental illness is even harder. But progress isn't always linear, and a bad week or bad semester doesn't determine the course of your life. You can never go to far to come back again. Be understanding and forgiving with yourself and know that better days are coming. You will graduate. You will get that internship, that degree, that job, that apartment, that goal you always thought was unattainable. You might not always believe in yourself, but never, ever give up on yourself. You can do it.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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