How to Cope with Mental Illness in College

When it comes to higher education, there are a number of obstacles to tackle. There are exams, for starters, lectures, the works. This is par for the course and to be expected, of course. However, there are other obstacles you may not necessarily foresee. For example, if you live with a mental illness such as depression or anxiety, higher education can seem like a gauntlet and the other students who are seemingly unfazed by it (they aren’t, by the way) seem like demigods. If this describes your college experience, there is hope. Here are some ways to cope with mental illness in higher education.

For starters, go to class. Simple advice, and obvious, but hear me out. In college, you’re beholden to almost no one. If you don’t go to your classes, your individual professors *might* have an attendance policy that negatively affects your grades or has your dropped from the course, but otherwise you’re home free. There are no truancy officers coming to arrest your parents, for example. This lax (by comparison to high school) attitude toward attendance can be tempting, and doubly so to people struggling with depression, which can cause decreased motivation and a lack of energy, or anxiety, which causes irrational fear and panic. However, if you can stomach going to your classes at all, you need to do yourself that favor. You want all of the information you can get for your assignments and exams to do as well as possible. Speaking of, do your assignments, and do them on time, if not early. All of this is to say that it may stress you out to think about going to class or doing your work, but it will get worse if you don’t, and your grades suffer, or you’re not prepared later. What helps me when I’m in the throes of a depressive episode is to simply treat myself here and there to inject a little joy into my day to calm my nerves. M&M’s usually do the trick.

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