Struggles of a Disabled College Student

Being a college student is hard enough with having to move away from home, becoming an adult, making new friends, and trying to make and keep good grades. Now imagine being a disabled student transitioning from having to stay at home and being an online student to being a full-time student at a big university, trying to be as independent as possible, plus having anxiety and depression on top of that. The struggle is real. This semester has been the hardest semester of my life in pretty much every way possible, but it’s also been the best.

The past five years have pretty much been the worst years of my life. After high school, my life went into this stasis—there were lots of things that were hard to deal with. I was pretty isolated from doing online school and not being able to make friends, but I got through it and am so proud of myself. Last summer I had earned enough credits to apply to UGA with an intended-journalism major, and I got in! I was so happy when I got my acceptance letter because that’s when I finally started to see my future again.

Though going to school on campus at this big university has granted me more opportunities, it has created a whole new set of struggles that I’m working on getting through. This semester has made me realize that I’m capable of doing more things than I thought I could. It’s been four months since I had steady care, and even just a few weeks ago I didn’t think I could go to school without someone here to help me, but I know I can—now that I’ve had this taste of independence and freedom, I want more of it.

With this newfound freedom comes a lot of anxiety because doing things on my own and without my mom is new territory for me, and I’m just starting to learn how to navigate it. Even though I feel better about myself, I’m more anxious than I've ever been, and my mental health is struggling. In the end, though, I know I’m stronger because of this experience. And, if I really stop and think about it, I’m one of the lucky ones because a lot of disabled people barely get a chance to live outside their houses let alone go to school and live independently. My disability and my mental health don’t define me as a person, and it’s time I stop letting them control me and go to school to become the person I want to be.