This summer was not easy for me at all. I would love to say that it was perfect and that I spent so much time with my friends and so much time in the sun but in reality, I didn’t. I watched an insane amount of Netflix, played on my phone, and slept for hours longer than usual. I spent a lot of time alone in my house and the days started to blur together. I felt like I was stuck in a comfortable little rabbit hole that I would never get out of. Before I knew it, it was mid-August and I hadn’t done anything I had planned on doing. After one too many breakdowns and hours of crying for no apparent reason, I went to my primary care doctor. I spent about an hour bawling my eyes out trying to explain what I was feeling while she gave me a small survey-type test that determined that I was indeed depressed.
This sounds cliche but I was kind of shocked. As a person minoring in psychology, that has taken at least 10 classes on mental illnesses, you’d think that I would’ve been able to at least diagnose myself… but I didn’t. Then it dawned on me that I had been pushing my best friends away for months, I had stopped going to the gym and taking care of myself, and I had lost interest in most of my favorite things. In that moment in my doctor’s office, it felt like the entire world around me was melting, disintegrating, and oozing out onto the floor. I worried about my family and friends and what they would say when they found out. I worried about my future college career and if I’d even be able to make it through another semester. And finally, I worried about myself and how I’d gotten to this point. Now, I don’t have any answers or any rock-solid solutions. Though I still struggle, I have found myself doing a lot better. I’m not a doctor but if you’re also struggling, here are some things that have helped me a lot and may even help you.
Talk to a professional.
Once I had that talk with my doctor, I immediately started looking for a psychologist, therapist, or psychiatrist. I utilized UNH’s PACS (Psychological and Counseling Services) and honestly, I was so scared to go in there. I had no clue what to expect, I worried that I would see someone I know in the waiting room and they’d want to chat about why I was there. I worried that my teachers would somehow find out and then decide I was too incompetent to do their assignments. I worried that I wasn’t mentally ill enough to even be there. Newsflash: none of that happened. All I had to do was answer some questions and then I was connected with a licensed therapist who really listens to me. I know this sounds cliche but talking to her is one of the most helpful and insightful things I have ever done. Even when I’m feeling fine and quite happy, just going in and talking about my life or my day legitimately makes it feel like an enormous weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I walk out of Smith Hall feeling like I just got a massage. Just lighter and happier.
Tell your friends and family, if you feel comfortable doing so.
My dad and I don’t talk about much but while we were driving to school to move into my apartment he realized something was off. When he asked about how I’d been feeling lately I broke down in tears and told him what was going on. Though I was sobbing and he didn’t really know what to do in this unfamiliar territory, he was very reassuring and comforting. My best friends reacted the same way and even confided in me about their own struggles, which made me feel a lot less isolated.
Even if you hate the gym, just do it. Release those endorphins.
Going to the gym can be a daunting task. Trust me, I am no gym rat. This fear of the gym can be pretty universal. Going with a friend or even a group of friends can make it so much more fun and easy. If that doesn’t pique your interest, then take a group class. UNH offers tons of fun classes like yoga, spin, and Zumba. After going to the gym I always feel much more grounded and relaxed.
Practice self-care and love yourself
Be extremely proud that you are here and you are trying. If you need to skip a class because you woke up feeling awfully down, then please do. It is a lot more difficult trying to focus during class when you’re not feeling yourself. If you need to take a nap during the day then take that nap. You need it and you deserve it.
I know this whole article sounds like the typical spiel that everyone hears over and over again. However, this is me, a real college student who is struggling, telling you that these things do help. They certainly won’t cure any mental illness, but these actions are a place to start helping you feel better.
If you are ever in crisis or need someone to talk to, reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-TALK (8255).