It’s difficult to be completely upfront about struggling with anxiety, self-harm and depression. People can be judgmental. What would your friends think? How would your family react? While it’s difficult enough dealing with these things, it’s even harder doing it when you think you’ve got to face your demons alone. It’s not all that uncommon for college students to experience anxiety and depression. There’s no shame in asking for help when it all seems too overbearing. And believe me, when you finally tell someone, it feels like a huge weight is lifted off your chest.
It’s easy for anxiety and depression to creep up in college, especially freshman year. It’s also easy to lie in your extra-long twin bed refreshing Instagram instead of going to the awkward ice cream social in your dorm. Being super-glued to your phone makes it that much harder to put yourself out there, meet new people and find the same kind of support system in college that you might have had at home.
The UCLA American Freshman report found that incoming college students are socializing with friends less than ever: In 1987, 38% socialized with friends at least 16 hours per week. In 2014, that number dropped to 18%. Although putting yourself out there seems absolutely terrifying, the amount of support that comes back to you is incredible. It's also easy to feel like you're losing your battle against mental health. But think of it this way; each time you choose to put the razor down, or call someone to talk (even if it isn't about what you're going through) and each time you choose to get up and keep going, you've earned another small victory over your struggles.
So, what’s the difference between anxiety and depression? While it’s common for a lot of people to experience cases of anxiety (i.e. feeling nervous, a racing heart, or sweaty palms before a big test or game), an anxiety disorder is defined by feelings of panic and/or fear that flood your mind over and over again, adding to the mix physical symptoms like a rapid heart rate, sweating, shakiness or dizziness, according to the American Psychological Association.
On the contrary, depression is much more than just feeling down, or having an off day. It is, however, a lingering sadness or numbness. People often experience a lack of interest or enjoyment in everyday activities, making sleeping and eating difficult, and social and academic settings just as hard. Anxiety and depression tend to go hand in hand, since dealing with long-term anxiety can lead to depression. Anxiety can also sprout as a result of one’s battle with depression. Both, however, can affect your sleep patterns and your health.
Statistics from the National Institute of Mental Health show that an average of 40 million adults struggle with depression, anxiety, self-harm, suicidal thoughts and mental illness in the United States. This is about 18% of the population.
It is also shown that women are 60% more likely than men to experience an anxiety disorder in their lifetime.
You're not alone; there are places you can contact for help. If you feel like your family or friends won’t understand, as if everyone will judge you or won’t take you seriously, then one of these outside resources might be best for you. There are a number of places that offer 24/7 access to counselors. Anyone can call or text if they’re in a crisis and desperately need to talk to someone who will listen and understand. A good place to start is your school’s mental health center. Many colleges offer counseling services if students need someone to talk to, or if they possibly need medication. If you do struggle with anxiety, depression, self-harm or suicidal thoughts, don’t wait until you aren’t well enough to get out of bed to go see a counselor.
Comparing yourself to what others seem to be can only fuel the fire. Self-compassion is completely necessary part of your well-being. There’s no shame in taking care of your mental health. You are more than worth it.
Here are a few resources that can help you through tough times:
Located in 325 White Hall, Kent State University offers counseling services free of charge to undergraduate students as individual or group sessions. For additional questions, or to schedule an appointment with a counselor, feel free to call the Counseling and Human Development Center at 330-672-2208.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a free 24/7 confidential suicide prevention hotline available for anyone in a suicidal crisis and in need of someone to talk to. By calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1 (800) 273-8255, callers will be connected to the nearest of over 150 crisis hotline centers. This network offers counseling and mental health referrals any time, day or night.
To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA) is a campaign that was launched about 10 years ago. They aim to spread hope to people battling addiction, depression, anxiety, self-harm and suicidal thoughts, while investing in treatment and recovery. They aim to connect people to treatment centers, websites, books, support groups and other resources for help. TWLOHA recently partnered with Crisis Text Line, giving anyone 24/7 access to a counselor. All you need to do is text TWLOHA to 741-741. Kent State University has a chapter of the campaign that meets weekly in the student center.
Jared Padalecki launched the Always Keep Fighting (AKF) Campaign in March 2015 via Represent with a t-shirt featuring the slogan. T-shirt sales benefited the charities To Write Love on Her Arms, The Wounded Warrior Project and A.I.R. (Attitudes in Reverse). The following year, on AKF’s first anniversary, Jared Padalecki launched an additional campaign entitled Love Yourself First to benefit The Pack Fund and the SPN Family Crisis Support Network.