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Mental Health

Mental Health in College: Putting Your Mental Health Over Academics

This is a themed continuation of my previous article “Mental Health in College: How Professors Are Not Helping.” However, this article will more specifically focus on my own experiences trying to overcome my poor mental health while also trying to balance my academics. So, let’s begin:

My college career first started in high school when I took Dual Enrollment classes with our local college. The classes I took were taught by professors who also worked as high school teachers, so I never had to travel to the actual college for my classes. This may have also affected the fact that these classes never kept me too stressed out. I thoroughly enjoyed my first taste of college classes, and I was glad to have gotten a little ahead in my studies before going off to college for real.

After my high school graduation, I moved six hours away from my hometown in the mountains to the coast. I have loved the area ever since my field trip in the 5th grade, so I was super excited to be where I have always wanted to be. While my college courses here were not too disastrous,  there were a variety of “professor types” that I encountered. I had chill professors that just wanted you to come to class and do their work. I had enthusiastic professors who were excited and overwhelmingly willing to help you succeed. I had professors at the crossroads of chill, excited, but also strict who had no problem calling you out. My favorite professors were the ones who acknowledged my mental health and upheld its importance over their own class. I still vividly remember my last semester at this college:

I had come to campus early since I successfully got a Resident Assistant position, and I did not realize just how much I had on my plate until my first Geology Lab. I was struggling to complete the easiest math problems (coming from an Advanced Math student), and I had to leave the classroom so I could cry without causing too much attention. My professor came outside for a small break and immediately noticed my distress. She was greatly concerned and explained to me that my mental health came first, and she would work with me about getting my assignments taken care of. This was the first taste of my mental health being more important than my academics.

December came by all too quickly and I successfully graduated with my Associate degree. And although I knew Valdosta State University (VSU) was my next destination, I knew that transferring in the Spring was going to set me back with making friends, especially with there being another 10,000 students at Valdosta compared to my previous college. Surprisingly enough, my Spring semester classes were not too overwhelming and I was able to join my very first three organizations. However, I had no idea what my first Fall semester at VSU had in store for me…

Fall semester started off as a complete disaster. I only had four classes, one of which being online, but I had a breakdown as soon as I reviewed all of my syllabi. Additionally, I still became a member of the same three organizations I had my Spring semester. Aside from academics, I moved off-campus and was worried financially about all of my expenses. So, I decided to apply for a second job. At this point, I was juggling four classes, three organizations, and two jobs. Just to top it off, I had a fleet of personal issues aiming all in my direction. My long distance relationship was failing, my parent relationships were rocky and suffering, I couldn’t be there for my best friend back home, and I was struggling to be the best version of myself. I still have issues truly opening up to people. I still find it hard to reach out and make friends when I have the chance. And my demons have haunted and weighed me down every day this semester, more so than I was originally wanting to admit. Internally, I fear for the absolute worst. However, I have been working towards replacing all my negative thoughts with positive ones and being more confident in myself and my emotions.

I made a lot of big decisions within this past week to help better myself for future relationships and opportunities to come. My two-year long distance relationship was mutually ended for the betterment of ourselves, relationships, and academics. I decided to withdraw from one of my classes that took up a lot of my time as well as my mental stability; this really pulled a lot of weight off my shoulders to the point I felt I could actually smile again. I have set up appointments with a Career Coach and my Advisor to work on my ACTUAL goals for myself and my future. Though, I am still working on being comfortable with doing what I truly desire and not worrying about what others will think of my decisions. None of these were easy decisions for me to make, but even as short as it has been, I have realized how important it is to focus and be more comfortable with myself.

If you are in a place of confusing turmoil, I highly suggest taking a breath, stepping out of the frame, and realizing what it is (or feels like) you need to change or fix. What are you struggling with? In what ways could these be helped? Have you taken the time to think thoroughly about making this decision and the outcomes of it?

There is a lot of thought and consideration that comes with this process. It was hard for me to be patient with this process as well, but I think it really helped me feel comfortable with these big, difficult decisions I made. And now, I feel all the more motivated and prepared for my next steps into my next journey.

hcxo

Hello, my name is Belle! I am an Art Major (Photography, Graphic Design, and Printmaking) at VSU with an Associate of Art degree from CCGA. I think everyone would agree I could be the face of all Virgos known to Earth. But I'm glad to be getting back into writing, and some of my other passions, again! I hope you all enjoy all the random things I end up writing <3
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