What Are The 'Freshman Blues'? You Might Have Them Without Knowing

The Period Of Sadness At The Start Of Freshman Year Has A Name, 'The Freshman Blues'

Meal times soon became just me eating in my dorm alone or in the dining hall at a table by myself, surrounded by strangers who seemed to be friends with everybody.

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Going to college, I had high expectations about what would happen friends-wise. My dad said that it would be the easiest time in my entire life to make friends, so I figured, I'd meet a diverse group of people and find life-long friends almost immediately. But that didn't really happen, at least not yet, and it left me defeated, sad and lonely.

When I first moved into the Honors College, I didn't have classes immediately. I could move in, settle down, and explore the campus at my own free will. It also meant that I had set eating times with the people on my floor. The RA and mentor-in-residence would organize times that we would all meet up and go down to the dining hall together and eat. They also had lots of events that kept us busy for most of the day and left us with little downtime towards the end of the day. It was nice because there was a sense of community and it felt like a schedule as being established and I got to socialize with everyone.

As soon as classes started, that all went away. I guess I forgot that classes existed and once they began, people never had the same break times as I did. The friends that I made so far all of a sudden became busy and were on different campuses when they were free.

Meal times soon became just me eating in my dorm alone or in the dining hall at a table by myself, surrounded by strangers who seemed to be friends with everybody. This was a dramatic turn from who I was in high school, where I always had a group to sit with at lunch and I always saw people that I knew and could hang out with. This just made me miss high school and my hometown friends even more. The homesickness that I had already begun to feel became exacerbated.

Soon enough, the people in my dorm were already forming solid friend groups. Every time I walked past a lounge, there would be a group of people chatting and laughing. I could also hear people laughing from the different rooms around me.

At first, I thought it was just me who felt this way. I thought that I was an outlier who just didn't know how to socialize and make friends in college. But that wasn't the case.

After talking to some friends from my high school, I found out that they were also experiencing the same thing. They felt lonely and found it hard to make friends because it seemed like everyone already knew people coming into college. And it wasn't just at Rutgers, friends who went to other colleges were going through it too.

Whenever you ask someone about college, they usually tell you that it was the best four years of their life or they warn you about the "freshman 15," but no one ever tells you about the "freshman blues." No one ever talks about how the first few weeks of college were the hardest because you're adjusting to your new lifestyle and the life that you've grown accustomed to has all of a sudden been dissipated. No one ever tells you that those feelings of sadness and loneliness that you have are normal and there are likely other people around you who are feeling the exact same way. At orientation or the first few days of moving in, your RA's don't warn you about the dramatic transition that happens in a day that can make your emotions and thoughts go haywire.

I know that the freshman blues exist because I went through them and I know people who went through them, but I also know that I overcame them and I know people who also overcame them or are in the process of overcoming them.

The solution to overcoming them was a long process, but I eventually climbed out of the hole that I was in, covered it up with soil, and walked across it safely. I filled that hole with communities that I found safety in, two of the bigger ones being CHAARG, a workout group where I got to meet upperclassmen and lowerclassmen and hang out with them once a week, and ultimate Frisbee, a sport that I've been playing for three years and I now play with some of my closest college friends. I also filled the hole with frequent phone calls and FaceTimes with my high school friends so it felt like we were still together in a sense. The people in my classes also helped. Eventually, I did make friends in every class and it makes my day brighter when I get to see them and talk. I also made more friends in my dorm and while I may not see them as much as I would like, it's always good when I do.

Going through the freshman blues was hard, really hard, but I got through it. It might take some time, but eventually, those who are experiencing it overcome it and it might take a little bit more than what I had to do, but that's OK.

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To The Person Who Feels Suicidal But Doesn't Want To Die

Suicidal thoughts are not black and white.
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Everyone assumes that if you have suicidal thoughts that means you want to die.

Suicidal thoughts are thought of in such black-and-white terms. Either you have suicidal thoughts and you want to die, or you don't have suicidal thoughts and you want to live. What most people don't understand is there are some stuck in the gray area of those two statements, I for one am one of them.

I've had suicidal thoughts since I was a kid.

My first recollection of it was when I came home after school one day and got in trouble, and while I was just sitting in the dining room I kept thinking, “I wonder what it would be like to take a knife from the kitchen and just shove it into my stomach." I didn't want to die, or even hurt myself for that matter. But those thoughts haven't stopped since.

I've thought about going into the bathroom and taking every single pill I could find and just drifting to sleep and never waking back up, I've thought about hurting myself to take the pain away, just a few days ago on my way to work I thought about driving my car straight into a tree. But I didn't. Why? Because even though that urge was so strong, I didn't want to die. I still don't, I don't want my life to end.

I don't think I've ever told anyone about these feelings. I don't want others to worry because the first thing anyone thinks when you tell them you have thoughts about hurting or killing yourself is that you're absolutely going to do it and they begin to panic. Yes, I have suicidal thoughts, but I don't want to die.

It's a confusing feeling, it's a scary feeling.

When the depression takes over you feel like you aren't in control. It's like you're drowning.

Every bad memory, every single thing that hurt you, every bad thing you've ever done comes back and grabs you by the ankle and drags you back under the water just as you're about the reach the surface. It's suffocating and not being able to do anything about it.

The hardest part is you never know when these thoughts are going to come. Some days you're just so happy and can't believe how good your life is, and the very next day you could be alone in a dark room unable to see because of the tears welling up in your eyes and thinking you'd be better off dead. You feel alone, you feel like a burden to everyone around you, you feel like the world would be better off without you. I wish it was something I could just turn off but I can't, no matter how hard I try.

These feelings come in waves.

It feels like you're swimming and the sun is shining and you're having a great time until a wave comes and sucks you under into the darkness of the water. No matter how hard you try to reach the surface again a new wave comes and hits you back under again, and again, and again.

And then it just stops.

But you never know when the next wave is going to come. You never know when you're going to be sucked back under.

I always wondered if I was the only one like this.

It didn't make any sense to me, how did I think about suicide so often but not want to die? But I was thinking about it in black and white, I thought I wasn't allowed to have those feelings since I wasn't going to act on them. But then I read articles much like this one and I realized I'm not the only one. Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, and my feelings are valid.

To everyone who feels this way, you aren't alone.

I thought I was for the longest time, I thought I was the only one who felt this way and I didn't understand how I could feel this way. But please, I implore you to talk to someone, anyone, about the way you're feeling, whether it be a family member, significant other, a friend, a therapist.

My biggest mistake all these years was never telling anyone how I feel in fear that they would either brush me off because “who could be suicidal but not want to die?" or panic and try to commit me to a hospital or something. Writing this article has been the greatest feeling of relief I've felt in a long time, talking about it helps. I know it's scary to tell people how you're feeling, but you're not alone and you don't have to go through this alone.

Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, your feelings are valid, and there are people here for you. You are not alone.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255


Cover Image Credit: BengaliClicker

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Fight And Flight, How I Conquer My Emotional Battles

In times of high threat and peril, science says our innate response usually follows one of two paths: fight or flight.

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snele1
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Like almost any other concept related to humans, the idea of "fight or flight" boils down to either/or, one over the other, choice A or choice B. This seems logical, as science also says we can't actually multitask as humans. We may think we can manage multiple tasks simultaneously, but we're inevitably occupied by one thing at a time. Now, depending on each person, the response to any given situation might vary. Someone might feel courageous enough to stay and "fight," while someone else may deem it wiser to make like a bird and take "flight."

Regardless, this concept revolves around a definitive choice, a choice of just one response, not both.

While I agree with this concept as it is, I've come to think that, in some areas of life, we can manage both. We can fight, but we can also take flight. Although fight or flight generally refers to physical threats/obstacles, I think the fight and flight apply on an emotional/mental front.

This past weekend was quite a whirlwind, blowing my emotions in all kinds of directions, which is really what prompted me to think about my emotional response to the weekend as a whole. As a bit of important background, I'm not a crier by nature. I just don't cry in public/ in front of others. Don't get me wrong, I don't see anything wrong with crying in public. It's a perfectly human response. No book, movie, song, or the like has ever moved me to tears. (Well actually, the movie "The Last Song" with Miley Cyrus did cause a stream of tears, but that's literally one out of a decade.)

Enough about that for now, though, I'll make mention of it again later.

I think this past weekend's deluge was an unassuming foreboding of the flood of emotions that came pouring in on Sunday. The day began like any other Mother's Day, we opened gifts with my mother before heading to my aunt's for a family lunch. Only once we arrived, I was informed that my other aunt, who's like a second mom to me, lost her beloved Shih Tzu of 14 years, Coco. We all knew that Coco's time was likely limited, but it still seemed sudden. I was a bit rocked by the news, but ultimately knew she had given life a run for its money. After all, I like to joke that if I come back, it'd ideally be as a house dog.

Needless to say, the suddenness of it all wouldn't really hit me till later that afternoon.

Fast-forwarding to the evening, we decided visiting my other grandmother would be a nice gesture on Mother's Day. Although she was still out and about, my house-ridden grandfather was there, and so we decided it'd be nice to stay and visit with him. A bit more background, my grandfather was diagnosed with Alzheimer's a few years ago, so we've unfortunately watched him slowly decline since the diagnosis. As such, this is where things went on a steep downhill slide. We arrived mid-nap, which subsequently meant waking him from his nap to visit. In hindsight, it seemed like a very poor choice, as when he awoke he seemed completely disoriented and largely still asleep.

It was as if his eyes were awake, but most everything else about his body remained asleep.

We stayed only but 12 or 15 minutes, as it didn't prove useful to stick around any longer. Enter the flight of my emotions. I've known my grandfather wouldn't be the same every single time I visited. I've dreaded but prepared for the time when he wouldn't remember us, or wouldn't be able to communicate with us the same. As much as I thought I'd be unphased when it happened, I wasn't. At the time, I tried to shuffle through other thoughts. I tried to jump to the upcoming things for the week and what I needed to take care of next. I wanted my mind to float off till my emotions wouldn't be so strong.

That's where I believe the flight response happens for me. When I'm face to face with an emotion-laden experience, whether it's sadness, frustration, or whatever, I try to shift my thoughts away from what's stirring them up. My mind takes flight. Maybe, that's why I don't cry in public. I don't allow my mind to focus long enough to conjure up a physical response.

My mind never stays in flight for long, though. I wouldn't say I'm scared of the emotions, rather I just need them to calm down or settle before I can pick them apart. I tend to process my feelings internally, but they never go unchecked or un-analyzed. That's why, even though I typically don't show my emotions in public, my throat still tightens up and my eyes still become glassy behind closed doors.

Nevertheless, this is where the fight response shows up. Except, I wouldn't say this is so much a fight, even if the situation can be a sort of emotional battle. It's more of a coming-to-terms. I know that I can't outrun my feelings, and I don't ever intend to. At some point, I let them catch up to me, and then the sorting process can begin. It's usually not that tumultuous like a real fight would be, but it doesn't mean that the emotions don't present a challenge at times.

snele1
snele1

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