We took our SATs, our ACTs, our APs, and college-level courses. We stuck by our college counselor’s side and rubbed elbows with college reps, and once we got those long-sought acceptance letters, we started preparing for our freshman fall course load not long after graduating from high school. Yet none of that could have prepared us for the wear and tear college would have on us—not just academically, but emotionally and mentally. Somehow, even though it took 18 years for us to be spatially independent, far away from our parents’ radar, it only takes a mere 4 after that until we are forced to be accountable-for-everything, financially independent, real-world bound adults. Talk about crunch time.
We are thrust into an environment that forces us to experience so much so quickly that it’s likely that we will run into a few bumps along the road. Somewhere in the learning curve, we begin to lose ourselves, as the little things seem more daunting than they should be, as passion turns into listlessness, as confusion becomes a gateway to panic. Time, which is somehow running out faster than usual, becomes our worst enemy.
Why didn’t Asher Roth warn us?
Reaching out for help at a time like this becomes a necessity that is often ignored. Sure, we’ll open up to our friends, maybe let out a small “ok” when Mom and Dad ask how school is going. But what if that’s not enough? What about seeking out professional help?
“Twenty-four hours after I declared that I (and I quote), ‘am the happiest I’ve ever been and I want to live in New York City forever and always,’ I had my first full-blown panic attack. I think it was because fake life had just become real…” – Shaye Winer, HC intern
“I was just freaked out about the consequences I may have set myself up for. It was really getting to me after a while, and I cried a lot about it.” – Anonymous San Francisco collegiette
“I hit my breaking point. I cried for hours a day, had no motivation, and became extremely irritable.” – Anonymous collegiette from Bryant University
“I found myself as a junior in college, constantly feeling overwhelmed and unfulfilled, and not doing a good job managing either of those emotions.” – Anonymous Fordham student
You’re not alone. There’s a whole community of collegiettes who have had the same concerns that you do, sought out therapists, and ended up, for the most part, glad they did. So here they are, your preconceived fears addressed by four of our very own collegiettes.
Fear #1: Therapists are only for crazy people.
No, therapy is for people who are overwhelmed by everyday, real-life problems—problems that could easily happen to any of us.
An anonymous collegiette from Saint Michael’s College, who found herself unable to vocalize her troublesome feelings to even her most supportive group of friends and has been seeing a therapist since her junior year of high school says, “There are so many stereotypical comments people make about going to therapy like, ‘You're going to have to lie down on a couch and tell someone all your feelings” [or] ‘You're going to therapy? You must have a lot of problems.’ Everyone has their own problems and just because people go to therapy doesn't mean they are insane or abnormal. They are just seeking some advice and, more importantly, someone to talk to.”
So there you have it—therapy isn’t for the crazies, it’s simply an extra lifeline, a smart investment in your well-being.
Fear #2: Honestly, I would be embarrassed if my friends and family found out.
First ask yourself what there is to be embarrassed about. Your mind probably flits to the traumatized expressions of your family and friends, the words “Where did we go wrong?” written all over their faces. But truth be told, the reality of this image depends upon you because therapists are bound by a contract of confidentiality.
Dr. Marjorie Kosoy, a therapist from Bellaire, Texas with 20 years of private practice under her belt, confirms: “We cannot even acknowledge whom we see, let alone give information about that person. The only time we can break this policy is if we think the person is in danger of hurting [herself] or others.”
Fine, so no one finds out. That doesn’t mean that you won’t still be embarrassed, and that’s totally normal.
“I am not the kind of girl who would have ever admitted this before, but I needed help,” HC intern and FIT student Shaye Winer, who had been experiencing panic attacks in her new surroundings, confesses. “I walked into the office embarrassed. I didn’t want to be seen as the girl who needed help…[but] it’s okay to need help, and it’s even more okay to ask for it because in the end you have nothing to lose other than time spent unhappy. In college we deal with so much and our world changes faster than we can take it in. I will wholeheartedly admit that I see a counselor bi-weekly. She listens to me and helps bring my insane thoughts down to a level that I can even comprehend. It’s not that she gets me—it’s that she helps me get me. What’s pride compared to that? Absolutely nothing.”
Think of it this way—whether you went in for an SAT prep course or for tutorials after class or asked your coach for a few pointers on the field, it’s all the same thing: asking for help. Only now, instead of being all about academics and extracurriculars, you could use a few pointers on the emotional side of things.