First Semester Stress: Tips For Those Entering College With Anxiety And Depression

First Semester Stress: Tips For Those Entering College With Anxiety And Depression

Be strong

I bawled for an hour straight when I left my home in New Jersey to drive out to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for my freshman year of college. Actually, I probably ended up crying for half the car ride. I doubt there has ever been a wetter, snottier mess on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. I was not looking forward to the start of college. I was going too far, didn't know anyone, was leaving all my friends behind, and I certainly wasn't prepared for the course load I was taking on.

The first couple weeks of school were probably the hardest weeks I've ever had to endure. I was on the phone with friends from home constantly and spent a decent percentage of my time crying or sleeping. I would try to talk to new people but more tears would just bubble up. I had suicidal thoughts, to the point where I started researching the number of pills it would take to cause damage. I even tried to convince my parents to let me come home and go to community college. Boy, what a mistake that would have been.

I don’t want to act like everything in my life is perfect now. It’s far from it. That being said, I have come a long way from that person I was at the start of my freshman year. I’ve made a solid group of friends at school, maintained a nearly perfect GPA, and have managed to find a guy that can put up with my super quirky personality (or maybe I put up with him.) Better yet, I think of Pittsburgh as more than just the city where I go to school. It's home.

To those who are entering college with anxiety or depression, I know how you feel. It is HARD. It's a hard process regardless. But I do think it's worse for those of us who are prone to those feelings anyway. Just know that you are not the only one struggling and that it is okay to be hurting. If you are feeling suicidal or feel the need to self-harm, please call your school's counseling center right away and make an appointment. If you are forward with them about how you're feeling they will get you in right away. I called when I was feeling suicidal and it was considered an emergency appointment. This is definitely a service that I recommend utilizing because it's free and right on campus. If your problems persist, you might want to try a combination of therapy and medication. That was the route I took. Even before entering college, I started to regret not going on medicine so I was definitely glad I got the chance to when I was really struggling. Meanwhile, I have friends who don't want to tell their parents how they're feeling so they can avoid speaking to physicians about medication.

Don't let this prevent you from improving your health: you're an adult so they legally can't tell your family. They didn’t tell mine. It was a decision I had to make on my own.

I also recommend maintaining a long - distance friendship with someone at home. Sometimes, it's good to have someone that you know really well to keep you grounded. At school, try your hardest to surround yourself with people. It might make you anxious or uncomfortable at first, trust me, I know, but eventually you will click with someone. And don't forget that you can talk your new friends about some of this stuff because chances are they're are experiencing some sort of homesick feeling too! If you are feeling uncomfortable being social and would rather have some time alone, take advantage of it and either get some exercise or put your energy into your homework! It'll only help you in the long run.

If you can push through your first semester or two of college and still aren’t happy at your particular school, it’s okay to look elsewhere. If that is what is going to make you happy, so be it. Happiness is a hard thing to achieve. But it is possible, so don’t settle for anything less. Reach out for help, branch out, and do some homework; it will get better.

If you suffer from depression or suicidal thoughts, please call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or visit

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To The Parent Who Chose Addiction

Thank you for giving me a stronger bond with our family.


When I was younger I resented you, I hated every ounce of you, and I used to question why God would give me a parent like you. Not now. Now I see the beauty and the blessings behind having an addict for a parent. If you're reading this, it isn't meant to hurt you, but rather to thank you.

Thank you for choosing your addiction over me.

Throughout my life, you have always chosen the addiction over my programs, my swim meets or even a simple movie night. You joke about it now or act as if I never questioned if you would wake up the next morning from your pill and alcohol-induced sleep, but I thank you for this. I thank you because I gained a relationship with God. The amount of time I spent praying for you strengthened our relationship in ways I could never explain.

SEE ALSO: They're Not Junkies, You're Just Uneducated

Thank you for giving me a stronger bond with our family.

The amount of hurt and disappointment our family has gone through has brought us closer together. I have a relationship with Nanny and Pop that would never be as strong as it is today if you had been in the picture from day one. That in itself is a blessing.

Thank you for showing me how to love.

From your absence, I have learned how to love unconditionally. I want you to know that even though you weren't here, I love you most of all. No matter the amount of heartbreak, tears, and pain I've felt, you will always be my greatest love.

Thank you for making me strong.

Thank you for leaving and for showing me how to be independent. From you, I have learned that I do not need anyone else to prove to me that I am worthy of being loved. From you, I have learned that life is always hard, but you shouldn't give into the things that make you feel good for a short while, but should search for the real happiness in life.

Most of all, thank you for showing me how to turn my hurt into motivation.

I have learned that the cycle of addiction is not something that will continue into my life. You have hurt me more than anyone, but through that hurt, I have pushed myself to become the best version of myself.

Thank you for choosing the addiction over me because you've made me stronger, wiser, and loving than I ever could've been before.

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How To Avoid Getting Sick Your  Freshman Year

It's going to take a little more than an apple a day.


College is the prime time and place to catch a cold... or worse. Although, somehow I managed to crack the code to health and not get sick my whole first year of college. This is surprising considering I was living in the close (and very unsanitary) quarters of a dorm room.

1. Keep your diet somewhat healthy

I know how hard it is to eat healthy in college, especially on a low budget. But with the dining hall foods, you can at least include some vegetables and fruits into your everyday consumption. The vitamins in these foods will help keep your immune system up and it will be worth the effort.

2. Try to exercise a few times per week

Even if you're just getting out of the dorm for a thirty minute walk, it will benefit your body. If you decide to up your routine from that, even better! The more endorphins, the more you will feel better inside and out.

3. Cut back on the drinking if you feel a cold coming on

Surprisingly, many college students don't seem to know that alcohol lowers your immune system. Of course, for some people theres no way of avoiding drinking. But if you can at least give your body rest days, it will be extremely beneficial.

4. Invest in a dehumidifier for your dorm room

I believe this was a very big player in helping me not get sick. The dehumidifier helps reduce dust and other particles in the air. This will help not agitate your allergies and you will feel more clear headed.

5. Try not to share personal products

Sharing things like towels, makeup, unwashed cups, etc. can all be causes of a sickness being passed around you and your friends. Of course sharing is caring, just make sure it's sanitary.

6. Be conscientious of who you kiss!

Make sure that your girlfriend, boyfriend, or "its complicated" person is not sick before you're getting cozy with them.

7. Drink lots of green tea!

Personally, I credit green tea and its anti-oxidants for keeping the flu away and even getting rid of bugs that might be forming in your system. So if you feel like you might be developing a cold, chug that tea!

I know how annoying these tips may be. But I promise, if you implement at least a few it could reduce your chances of feeling horrible during midterms in the winter, and sneezing all over your finals in the fall.

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