Your college years will be the best years of your life.
After high school is over, it will get better.
College is a time to start fresh and reinvent yourself.
How many times have you heard any of these words? How many times have you felt like any of these words were just something someone told you to convince you to take the next step? That they were a marketing ploy or just plain lip service?
The truth is, college can be an amazing part of your life. It can be a time to make friends you will keep with you for life. You are shaping your future, deciding what you want to spend the rest of your life… Wait. The rest of my life?! I don’t even know what I want to do for Spring Break, how can I be trusted to make decisions about the rest of my life?
And the work is so. Much. Harder. And all of my friends want to go out and party but I need to do well in these classes. And I miss my little brother and my parents. And all of my friends back home. And some days I just can’t convince myself to get out of bed. I have no appetite and no desire to do anything but lay in bed and watch infomercials.
Does any of that sound familiar?
I had a friend in college who went through all of that. Silently. Until the night she confessed to us she’d taken a whole bottle of painkillers before coming to dinner. Everything turned out okay, in the end, we got her to a hospital in time and she moved out of the dorms into her own apartment where she was much happier. But what if it hadn’t worked out okay? How many of you were told, when you went through freshman orientation, where the counseling services office was? How many of you filed that information away for later, in case you needed it? How many of you, instead, dismissed it as something you were never going to need?
The truth is, on top of all of the stress of college, many mental illnesses commonly manifest themselves in our late teens to early twenties, when most of us are away from home for the first time trying to maneuver the horrors and wonders of college life. Sometimes, having good friends to talk to is enough to help you deal with any trouble you might be encountering. But sometimes, there is something far more sinister lurking beneath the water and you need to seek out professional help.
I’m a poor college student, I can’t afford a shrink.
The terrific thing about being a poor college student is you probably have resources available to you that you and every other student have already paid for through your tuition and student fees. There will be very few other times you are going to have that opportunity. So take advantage of it. If you don’t know where or how to receive this help, drop into the student health services and ask. If anyone is going to know, it’s someone in that office.
What will my friends think if they see me going to the school counselor?
They will think you are having trouble coping with something and hopefully they will understand. If you really are concerned about going to the school provided counselor, The Jed Foundation has links to several places you can get help anonymously, including ULifeline which is specifically geared toward helping college students with various problems. ULifeline has articles about common issues for college students, links to your own campus facilities as well as a hotline for immediate and after hours help.
The main point is you are not alone in what you are going through. Other students your age all across the country are going through the same issues and because of that, there are resources to help make it all easier for you.