Struggling with depression and anxiety can suck, but what they don’t tell you is that it can be a long and painful road. Especially as a freshman in college.
I get it. I’m a 20-year-old college student struggling with completing my assignments because I procrastinate to the point it causes me severe anxiety attacks. 2 out of the 7 days of the week I can’t find a good enough reason to get out of bed and go to class. I get behind, stress myself out, then feel like a failure (especially if I actually fail the course). I look back at my grades and know I can do better and those grades aren’t an accurate reflection of what I’ve learned and what I’m capable of. Its a vicious cycle, but I know I’m not suffering alone.
I was alive, but not living. That honestly could be one of the worst feelings in the world. You feel trapped in your own bubble, unable to communicate the way you are feeling. Seeing everyone around you enjoy life and do incredible things. All you want to do is join in and live your life to the fullest, but you can’t. You’re stuck in some odd rut. Feeling like a waste of space, and more importantly of oxygen.
For me, it got to the point I didn’t want to do anything anymore. I didn’t want to socialize, eat, work out, or learn. My friends started noticing and tried to help as best they could, but let’s be real they eventually give up and decide to find “fun” friends. That’s when I knew I needed a change in my lifestyle.
Every night I would lay on my back and stare at the blank ceiling counting the tiles. I had no desire to read a book, play on my phone, or even watch Gossip Girl on Netflix (Which is my all-time favorite show). Not that you needed to know this, but there are 32 ceiling tiles in my old dorm room. I would be lucky to get an hour of sleep each night, which was the most annoying thing in the world. To be so exhausted, but you just can’t fall asleep or stay asleep. I would start to panic as the sun rose because I realized that was another 8 hours of my life wasted.
Throughout the day I did mind-numbing activities:
-Sit in class for 2 hours.
-Break for 30 mins.
-Another boring course, but luckily only for 1 hour.
-Laid in bed staring at the ceiling.
-Pretended to eat at the dining hall so no one would notice I haven’t eaten in 4 days. I lost over 10 lbs in a month. Which most people would dream about, but it was my worst nightmare. I was only 110lbs going into college, and I was slowly starving myself to death.
-Then back in bed to count the ceiling tiles for another 8 hours.
This happened for a few weeks, I lost friends, my grades dropped, and slowly I became less of a human and more of a lump of lifeless skin and bones. I felt like there was no way out, I was at the lowest of the low. I was breathing, but I always felt like I was suffocating. I was drowning.
That’s it. Time to change. I marched up to the school counselors office, told her exactly how I felt. In vivid detail. Enough to make her tear up. I thought it was bad enough, but watching a complete stranger, whose job is to listen to issues like this all day, tear up because they feel so sorry you are feeling so worthless and helpless, was the icing on the cake. Something in my brain clicked, seeing that single tear drop from my therapist’s cheek to her pants, made me want to change.
Next thing I know I am in the school psychiatrist’s room once again explaining my emptiness and getting a very similar and disheartening reaction. He scribbles down some random words that didn’t even look English on his notepad. Gave it to me, and by the next morning I was on a new prescription that would “fix me.”
Little did I know, I was in for an even longer journey. I’ll give you the abbreviated version because listening to me list 15 different medications and their various side effects on me is a waste of everyone’s time. Basically, it seemed like no medication was working, every month I got switched to a different pill or higher dose. I was always nauseous, tired, and depressed. I’m not a doctor, so don’t take any medical advice from me but, what I was told was that switching medications that frequently doesn’t allow the chemical to be in your body for enough time for it to reach its full effects. Both the doctor and I were looking for a quick fix, which apparently was the wrong way to approach the situation. A year and a half later (presently) I have almost found the perfect concoction of different foreign words that work well with my body, but it isn’t perfect.
Now I didn’t tell you this sad story of how I had an awful first year in college to bum you out, I shared it with you in hopes you can relate or learn something from it. If you’re feeling stuck or hopeless, there are so many different resources available to you. Through colleges, doctors, therapists, and even online. Don’t wait until you’re at your breaking point like I did, take a step now, before you’re at your lowest. And if you’re already at your lowest, use my story as inspiration to make the change in your lifestyle you need.
I’m not trying to say if you have depression and anxiety that college is going to suck for you. This is just my personal experience with college. I have learned many things from this first year at school, mainly what want from my life. I am still happily attending college now with the right medication and therapy. And I know now that I don’t want to live that lifestyle, I want to be a happy and healthy student. I’ve discovered through my freshman year experience what makes me happy, and what are the best coping methods for me when it comes to dealing with my depression and anxiety.
Lastly, in no way am I trying to belittle anyone’s situation, or offend anyone by the way I approached and told this story. I have just learned the best way to deal with a tough situation is make light of it and laugh it off. I hope this story can impact at least one person, if not it was very therapeutic for me to write.
In the future, I plan to write about the different things that make me happy and other relatable experiences you may be facing while learning to live with mental illnesses. Bare with me while I get used to this whole blogging thing and find my own voice. Subscribe to my email list to stay updated on new articles coming out!