How To Cope With Mental Health In College

Ever since I was very young, I always worried about what other people thought of me. I always worried whether people saw me as good or bad. I was always afraid of speaking to strangers and was the shy one in class who teachers would say was a “joy to have in class.” I was always quiet and rarely spoke up because I was so afraid. My anxiety disorder and my ADD that caused me to always daydream in the middle of class would actually make me look like a well behaved kid who sat still and quiet as if I was actually listening to what the teachers would say.


But I wasn’t.


I never really thought there was anything wrong with me, just that other people were smarter and more confident.


I went through a lot more than most kids can say at my age, to put it shortly, and when I reached the age of twelve everything started to spiral out of control. It was a time where so many events that I had bottled up inside of me, including the fact that I was going through puberty, just imploded in me. I started failing my classes which made me feel like a complete failure on top of everything else that was going on. My mother noticed that I was slipping, and that I needed help.


I was diagnosed with severe depression and social anxiety. On top of that, I discovered that I had ADD, which explained why focusing in school was so much harder for me than for other kids.


I’ve now been going to therapists every once in a while, and have been taking a cocktail of medications ever since.


Going to college with so much responsibility and where I’m so far from my family is hard. I’m still always anxious no matter how much medication I take to suppress it. Even though anxiety makes things harder, it doesn’t make life impossible, so here are a few ways I cope and manage it:


Write about it


When I was twelve that was what always made me feel better. Whenever something was bothering me I would draw or write about it and let out all my insecurities with a pencil and paper in hand. It would get me to slow down my thinking.


Don’t be afraid to admit when you need help


With anxiety, depression, and ADD, my level of productivity depends on my mood and what current situations are going on in my life, which can get very unpredictable. I’ve had moments where I felt like I was about to lose my mind during my time at college and felt that I needed a day or two off from school, or an extension for a paper. For this I got an accommodation letter from the Disability and Learning Resource Center (DLRC)* to give to my teachers to allow me more flexibility for absences and assignment deadlines. If you feel like you absolutely cannot finish a paper due to paralyzing anxiety, don’t be afraid to ask your professor for an extension.


Get out of bed


While taking a day off is sometimes needed, staying in bed all the time is not good for you. No matter what, you have to force yourself to get the fuck out of bed at some point. The sooner the better.


Adopt a pet


Owning a pet can be extremely therapeutic. If you live in a dorm, you can register an animal as an emotional support animal. Try getting a pet that won’t need a lot of maintenance or attention, but will give you snuggles when you need them.


Count to ten


Whenever I feel like I’m about to have an anxiety attack in public, I try to control and focus on breathing slowly. Try counting to ten with each deep breath you take.


Take one thing at a time


I’m always getting paralyzed with anxiety because I have too much to do. Because of this, I try to remind myself to always take everything one step at a time. Get a planner and write down what tasks need to be done. Take small steps each day in finishing a project or homework. Once you’ve planned accordingly and completed each small task you need to get done every day, you’ll feel a lot better and less overwhelmed. Try this and you won’t feel overwhelmed when deadlines start coming up. Prioritize tasks that need to be done first or have a deadline approaching sooner than others.


Lastly, remember to take time for yourself


Getting caught up in daily life without remembering to take care of yourself and do what you want to do can increase your anxiety. Everyone deserves a break, and you’ve earned it. It could be something as small as binge watching your favorite show or treating yourself to a nice bubble bath.



*DLRC at SAIC Contact Information

Make an appointment by e-mailing [email protected] or calling 312-499-4278 

Location 116 S. Michigan Ave., 13th floor

Hours Monday–Friday 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.