Being in college is already hard enough, you have assignments that overlap each other that need to all get done simultaneously, some of us work on top of a full time school schedule, our sleep gets out of whack and we slowly lose our minds as the semester progresses. But imagine having mental; health issues on top of that, specifically anxiety and depression. Not only are you stressed about school, but you have to battle depression episodes and random panic attacks on top of it. These road blocks as I like to call them, really get in the way and hinder our abilities to “give it your all”.
As a college student its a given that you will indeed be stressed, but when you have severe anxiety even the littlest assignments can send you into a full on panic attack. I’m going to use myself as an example, part of my anxiety is overthinking things before they even happen, I work myself up and send myself into a mental frenzy then I usually realize it wasn’t that bad and feel silly. When school gets into the mix, I freak out about an assignment the day it is assigned and overthink when and how I’m going to get it done and give myself a mental screen shot of my work schedule to figure it out. It’s extremely unhealthy and it has made me sick a couple of times but that’s the harsh reality of anxiety, it kicks in and there’s nothing you can do about it.
I’ve spoken to co-workers about this before, some are Westfield State students as well. they’ve all mutually agreed that mental health and school are a tough mix to deal with. One co-worker in particular, Bridgett agreed with me when I said that when my depression kicks in it makes it extremely hard to do school work. she told me that she ha had days where she is not mentally able to get some of her school work done, she manages to get it done on time in the end but crams till two nights before or even the night before. i personally get these all the time, I have severe anxiety and my depression creeps it’s way in once in blue moon. But when my depression kicks in my brain mentally clocks out and i just can’t get anything done. I also have panic disorder on top of anxiety, so that means I randomly get panic attacks. I’d literally be sitting on my bed reading a book and a panic attack will come on. Sometimes I’ll be writing a paper for class, working on my online class, or whatever else for school. I’d be perfectly fine one minute, then boom a panic attack comes and I have to stop everything till it goes away. This personally effects me school wise, because it causes me to procrastinate my work till a later time which makes me believe, if I’m struggling with anxiety/panic disorder and it’s effecting someof my school stuff, then someone else must be too.
One thing I want to make clear is, if you in any way suffer from the same things I do, just know you’re not a failure. Dealing with school and anxiety is not a fun thing at all, especially with panic disorder like I have, bu one thing I’ve had to teach myself is this does not make me a bad student, and it does not make me a failure. One thing I’ve learned is not to fight it, i will get a panic attack no matter what i do, so i need to just take a break, let it pass, and then go back to it when I’m ready. It’s easier said than done though. It is the hardest thing when you know you have a 5 page paper due in 4 days, but your brain has mentally clocked out and you’re stuck in the never ending pool of anxiety and despair up until you actually start it. People who don’t suffer from mental illness will not understand the true difficulty of having mental health issues and going to school. granted, everyone gets stressed out with school, but it is 100 times worse when you have anxiety and depression. Both of these mental illnesses take so much out f you.
One thing I do to try to prevent falling behind in class and then having my panic attacks get in the way even more, is o do my school work when I feel fine. When I get home from class and have some down time before work I just get bits and pieces done. I’ve found that since i do get random panic attacks, that if i hold my work off it just makes the whole situation worse, so I plan it around those, which sounds silly but it has been working this semester so far. I listen to music or take a 10 minute walk and come back refreshed. it is so important to find things that calm you down when things like this happen. You won’t get anything done otherwise, believe me I’ve been there.
When it comes to depression it can get a bit sticky since depression can be more intense depending. This is the mental illness that doesn’t let me get out of bed and the one that hits me the hardest and at the most inconvenient times. I try to stay positive and do what i need to get done, calm myself down with music, or even play music while doing my homework. Since I don’t know when my depression will creep up, these remedies help to keep my mind in check. I’ve had times when I procrastinated assignments and hen I had a really bad depression episode that caused me to almost fail a really important assignment. So knowing patterns of your illnesses and working around them will definitely help.
You can’t get rid of your mental illnesses, and not every day is a walk in the park. i still have my moments where i procrastinate work or my anxiety creeps up and causes me to do school work the night before, or my online class the day it’s due. It is so hard, and most people don’t realize how tough it is for college students with mental health issues, so just now that you are jot a alone, and that you are doing the best you can. Not everyone is going to be on their A game ever day, believe me because I’m not always on it either. but that’s just how our brains work. Doing well starts with how you view yourself. If you’re proud of the effort you’re making it will make a difference. Just know that nothing is wrong with you, and that you can change it, just try the best you can every day. That’s really all you can do.