The Struggle Of Managing College And Mental Illness

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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Despite What The Media Says, Video Games Don't Cause Violence And Aggression

The answer to a question that has been asked for many years.

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Often at times when a young teen (usually a male) commits an act of violence such as a school shooting, people try to blame the tragedy on violent video games and other forms of media. What I'm here to argue is that violent video games do not cause violence among children. The one question that needs to be asked, though, is where this blame is coming from, and my answer is the media who distributes this claim to society.

Although there may be some valid arguments as to why violent video games lead to aggression that can turn into potential violent behavior, there is plenty of research that proves that violent video games do not contribute to aggression as much as the opposing view tells you. Right now, there are thousands upon thousands of children who play video games every day and don't become aggressive and violent. In instances such as school shootings, people love to steer the conversation away from topics like gun legislation, which is generally how the NRA prefers things. It's less pressure on their department and more questions and pressure on departments such as The Entertainment Software Association.

The ESA is a U.S. association representing companies that publish computer and video games. The NRA is the National Rifle Association of America, a U.S. nonprofit organization that advocates for gun rights. In 2012, after a shooter killed 20 children and six faculty members at Sandy Hook Elementary School, NRA president Wayne La Pierre said, "There exists in this country, sadly, a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells and sows violence against its own people."

He was talking about video games, not the gun industry.

Most of the time people who blame video games for being the cause of these problems don't play them themselves. According to a study the researchers at the University of York performed with more than 3,000 participants, video game concepts do not "prime" players to behave in certain ways, and increasing the realism of violent video games does not necessarily increase aggression in game players. Another study corroborates the ongoing body of evidence that being good at video games plays an important part in our cognitive development and improves our ability to learn new things.

An article from Psychology Today states, "after surveying over a thousand 14- and 15-year-old adolescents of both genders and their parents in Great Britain, the researchers found that teenage gamers who played violent video games did not exhibit higher levels of aggressive behavior than age-matched peers who didn't play violent video games." This evidence along with the numerous other arguments provided suggest that violent video game play does not have a detrimental effect on levels of aggression.

In the future, video games will become more and more life-like and violent, which will inevitably cause people to question whether teenagers playing such games might become more aggressive. I just only hope for one day when people will examine the value of gaming in an open-minded manner and put all options on the table instead of one.

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10 Quotes To Put Your Current Existential Crisis To Rest

Beautiful words for times of dread.

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From the beginning of time, humanity has always asked the big questions. Sometimes, however, these thoughts can lead to anxiety and uncertainty about life, death, and all that happens in between.

Here are some beautiful words I've turned to during times of existential dread.

1. "Here's to all the places we went. And all the places we'll go. And here's to me, whispering again and again and again and again: iloveyou." — John Green

2. "Our ancestors worshipped the sun, and they were not that foolish. It makes sense to revere the sun and the stars, for we are their children." — Carl Sagan

4. "Remember, remember, this is now, and now. Live it, feel it, cling to it. I want to be acutely aware of all I've taken for granted." — Sylvia Plath

5. "From my rotting body, flowers shall grow and I am in them and that is eternity." — Edvard Munch

6. "Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place." — Iain Thomas

8. "Embrace the void and have the courage to exist." — Dan Howell

9. "It was as if that great rush of anger had washed me clean, emptied me of hope, and, gazing up at the dark sky spangled with its signs and stars, for the first time, the first, I laid my heart open to the gentle indifference of the universe. To feel it so like myself, indeed, so brotherly, made me realize that I'd been happy, and that I was happy still." — Albert Camus

Let these words bring you hope and comfort, and know that you are not alone.

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