Dealing with a mental illness is hard enough, but once you go to college it makes the battle that much tougher. For most, college is a complete change of sceneary, living in a new place, with a bunch of new people, sharing a room with a complete stranger, and possibly even living in a different state. College is nothing like high school and certainly serves as a shock to the system, especially in the beginning. For those who are dealing with mental illness, all of these changes seem so much more overwhelming. It is important to understand that everyone deals with things differently, however, there are a few general tips which I have discovered to help make handling a mental illness while also dealing with the transition college presents that have helped me and I hope might help you as well.
The first and most important tip is accepting your mental illness. Nothing good will come from denying that you are struggling. This is not a decision, it is a disease. You are not able to choose whether you will get cancer or break a leg, and the same goes for a mental disease such as anxiety or depression. It is not something to be ashamed of, but rather something that must be dealt with like any other ailment. Pretending as if you don't have a broken leg and continuing to walk on it is only going to make matters worse. Acceptance is the first step of many recovery processes, and this is no exception.
Like stated earlier, it is not something in which to be ashamed of. Do not be embarrassed to tell someone that your mental struggle may affect how you react in certain situations. This is particularly important for roommates or those whom you will be spending a lot of time with such as teammates or sorority sisters. If the people around you are able to understant what you're going through, it will avoid them misinterpreting your actions for something vindictive against them. This will also help you, because you will be able to ask for help without having to hide your true feelings. Asking for help or talking to someone when you are struggling is the one of the most helpful things. Fighting alone is going to make everything so much harder. It is extremely important to have a support system in general, however it is that much more important to maintain a strong support system when you are struggling with a mental illness. Knowing that there is someone whom you can fall back and rely on will offer a strong sense of comfort always.
Asking for help is hard sometimes. Some feel as though it will make them weak if they need someone to help them handle anything. However, if the people around you know that you might be struggling, they will be able to notice warning signs and help us without even having to ask. The important thing about this is to accept the help. If someone is going out of their way to make assist you, without having to be asked, they are obviously concerned about you and want what's best for you. Accepting a helping hand might be hard at first, especially to those who are stubborn, but in the end it will be the right decision for you.
Another important decision to make is listening to your illness. Mental illnesses are very loud and will make themselves very clear, particularly in harder times. If you feel as though you need to be alone, do so. If you think you need to talk to someone, do it. Don't fight against what your mind is trying to tell you. Listening to your body is so important and will make the process so much easier and less overwhelming. Pushing against your inner instincts will create even more stress on top of everything else. Missing one party to be alone and work through your feelings will not murder your social life, I promise you; take care of your mental health first.
The final tip is to find your set of activities which help you to relax. For some, they exercise, others craft, and personally I like to do crosswords. Something simple which you enjoy to take your mind off whatever might be bothering you. Having some "me time" will boost your spirits and clear your mind, this will help you go into difficult situations with a stronger sense of optimism. It's always nice to have something small to look forward to at the end of your day. Knowing that after a day of crazy customers at work and a hard test in your economy class you'll be able to hit the gym and let all your frustrations out can have such a positive effect on your whole day. Find that little thing that relaxes you and gives you joy, and try to incorporate that into your life as much as possible.
Mental illness is no joke, and can certainly alter one's way of living. Fortunately there are many resources available to those struggling. In fact, most colleges offer services to those who need them. In addition to the tips above, I would certainly recommend looking into the resources your school community offers. I hope this article served as helpful to some. Times may get hard, but you can get through anything. Stay strong, and don't be afraid to ask for help