Although I have only been in college for about a semester and a quarter, I have been struggling from depression for the majority of my life. I may not be an expert on college quite yet, but I’m quite the expert on depression. A fact that may be kind of sad, but you’ve got to work with what you’ve got.
Upon entering college, my depression was at a pretty high level. I had just gotten out of a relationship and moved in much later than many of my friends. I had spent the last two weeks before embarking on the journey that is college mourning many losses, each of different natures. So I had to learn quickly how to handle my depression in college.
I began the process by being completely open with my roommate about my battle with mental illnesses (I suffer from General Anxiety Disorder and Depression). I thought this would be a good thing to do because when you are living with someone and they may not be as responsive or engaged it is better to know why rather than think they are mad or annoyed with you. I furthered this step by opening up to my closest friends (in person) about my mental illnesses. To be honest, if anyone takes a look at my social media it becomes pretty clear that I am open about my mental illnesses. But I still believe taking the time to verbally spell out what they are and how they affect me was key to my handling my depression better in college.
Next, I took advantage of the Disability Services offered by my college. I’m not positive if every college has this yet, but if you struggle from a mental illness, or any disability at that, you can alert your teachers and make some adjustments. For example, when I’m taking tests I get anxious that I’m not keeping up with those around me and so sometimes it takes me longer to take tests. So I worked with our disability services coordinator and came up with a plan that I would get time and a half on tests. Moreover, reading out loud makes me a little anxious so we mentioned that in the email to my professors as well.
And finally, and what I believe to be the most important step, I take time for myself. I make sure to have me time. College can be all-consuming. You’re with people all day, you’re expected to be engaged. It is okay to take some time for yourself. To engage in self-care. Whether that be reading a book (for fun), watching some Netflix, or anything that brings you joy. Self-care is so important to managing depression because sometimes you don’t even realize that your depression is back at it until you slow down a little bit.
Depression is hard to deal with, and even harder to manage in college. But if you take some steps to confront it hopefully your college experience can be made better.