Mental Health In College
I had my first Panic Attack Freshman year of college. You can’t breath. You wonder what the point of it all is. The pressure builds up to this one moment that makes you feel that everyone in the world has a purpose, and you are here just to wonder; wonder if life is meaningful.
But there is hope…
College brings about some of the best times of your life. If there is anything peaceful in this chaotic world, it’s finding friends that you mesh with. Late evenings, sunsets, movie nights, loud music: these are the images that come to mind when I think of the beauty of adolescence. A free world to explore.
So what gets in the way of this joy? There are a range of things, but for most college students it’s poor mental health.
There are not many people that enjoy change, and when it comes to a new environment, college takes the first place ribbon. With so much to worry about, our daily routine changes significantly and the space in your mind fills with more than it can handle. What many people do, including myself, is bottle up these emotions and act like everything is perfect. Whether it's through social media or just word of mouth, we want to let everyone know that “Everythings fine! College is so fun! Honestly, Freshman year has been the best time of my life!” No one wants to say the unspeakable: that college can break us. At least this was my experience.
Having grown up with the same group of friends since the fourth grade, during the first semester of my freshman year I experienced easily some of the hardest moments of my life. But do you know what the worst part about it was? I wasn’t telling anybody how sometimes I felt like my life was in shambles. I felt that if I opened up about it with my peers or family, it would be a sign of weakness. But after talking with people later on about their experience their first year of college, they shared the same struggles.
Some people have worse anxiety than others, but let's all admit that college can kick us down and not pick us back up at times. But there are things that you can do to help control your deepest insecurities.
The first step is to tell someone. Don’t worry about what their response is. If it is a loving friend, they will listen and reciprocate their endeavours. If there isn’t anyone you feel comfortable reaching out to, you can always go to a counselor. Most colleges have free guidance counselors you can consult anytime. Based on experience, bottling up your emotions is not healthy. Bringing up your struggles to people who care is not just emotionally satisfying but physically as well.
It took me two years to learn this. There were points when I would get stomach aches that I could not find the cause of. It truly was because of stress and anxiety and I cannot make more clear how much it affected me. It's important to notice these signs, and let someone know immediately.
There are so many things to learn when you are going through a tough period like this. One is that everyone is in the same boat. As I said, some have it worse than others, but a good amount of people in college are scared out of their minds. Create an environment where you can be honest with your friends. Let them know that you’re a little scared. For me, once I established this level of comfort with my friends, it provided me with so much more clarity and satisfaction concerning my mental health. I understood that everyone goes through periods of stress and anxiety, and that I will always have someone to lean on.
It’s also key to understand that this is temporary. Everyone has a rough transition period they’re going through a big change. The truth is: this scary feeling of uncertainty won’t last forever. You will reach a point when you are comfortable with where you are, and you’ll become more clear-headed and at peace. It may take longer for some, but you will get there. The mind is a scary place. It can go to some dangerous places when you are outside of your comfort zone, and it is important that as much as you might not feel it at the time, that everything will be ok.
When I had my first Panic Attack, horrible thoughts rushed through my head. It hit me so quickly that I did not think it would ever end. Darkness reigned supreme as I tried my best to focus on the light. The beast we know as anxiety takes over, and creates a kingdom not worth living in. A Kingdom of fears, insecurities, irrationality, and an absence of bliss. But remember that this kingdom is not permanent. Light is not completely absent. In the distance there is hope, hope that is in the shape of late evenings, sunsets, movie nights, and loud music. But more importantly, this light contains the people you love and care for. The friends you can rely on during your lowest of lows. Friends that will make that light appear quicker than if you were in solitude.
Anxiety is a part of life. Remember to breath and seek community.
Let’s keep up with classes & life together.
Marketing Intern Summer 2019