by: BRANDI ORTIZ/Editorial Assistant
Sometimes the multitude of life’s changes that occur during your college years can trigger serious depression.
Other times, you are already familiar with the war that is a mental illness before you even graduate high school.
Dealing with depression, or any other mental illness, while in college can be very challenging. I am currently dealing with dysthymia, also known as chronic depression, something that has been following me since my senior year in high school.
Throughout the new adventure of college, there are a few things I have learned that helped me cope with my illness each day. And yes, it is an illness!
Martha Manning once said, “depression is such a cruel punishment. There are no fevers, no rashes, no blood tests to send people scurrying in concern, just the slow erosion of self, as insidious as cancer. And like cancer, it is essentially a solitary experience; a room in hell with only your name on the door.”
One way that I found that helped me deal is carefully planning my day. Waking up each day aware of what needs to be done and how I can get it done helps. It gives me a sense of control, especially when I feel as if darkness has taken over of my life. Just knowing that I am in control of what needs to be done is a big plus.
I also found that extracurricular activities are the best distractions. When my mind resembles a 2 year-old’s art project, all over the place and makes no sense, extracurricular activities have helped me distract myself from the negative thoughts. Join groups that you feel passionate about.
I know for some people how illness has caused them to lose all joy they once had for some activities. For the longest, time I could not stand my family. The people who used to be my world and brought me so much happiness had slowly turned into a group that I hated to be around. I would force myself to be around them because I hoped that one day the feeling would come back.
After a long period of time, my family had made it’s way back up to the top and my need to be around them has grown stronger than ever. It could be just the same, if not even better, to force yourself to get out there and rediscover the activities that once brought you happiness. Maybe even discover something new.
Depression, or any another mental illness, can cause someone to find shelter in one specific, most amazing, beautiful, and non-judgmental thing: your bed. You are exhausted. I know. You are fighting a war in your head every day, so being “tired” is an understatement. Sleep is a major element in recovery. Though sometimes you just need to curl up with your fluffiest blanket, your favorite Netflix series and just do nothing, becoming a hermit is taking a step back.
What I found helped me is setting a specific time for naps, and full-on sleep. Also doing my homework and other important things during the day and not during the evening has helped me focus on my sleeping schedule.
Aside from beds and pizza, another great invention is technology. Texting, phone calls, FaceTime, Skype, Facebook, Twitter, any other way to communicate, is helpful, especially during recovery. Taking advantage of technology helps you keep in contact with your support system. Family members, friends, classmates, or even talking to those who also suffer from the same mental illness, can help a lot. I cannot begin to describe how many times I FaceTime my family on a daily basis just to help me keep sane. Technology has also made it easy to find help.
On that note, please seek help! If you are not currently receiving help, there are many great sources to find some. I cannot express this enough. I know getting out and just talking about your daily battle is hard, but I promise when you find the right counselor, recovery becomes much easier.
SPC has an amazing counseling program, which I highly recommend. They are great human beings, which helps because sometimes your counselor is just on a computer screen speaking from a thousand miles away. They care. Ever since I began counseling, I have been more open in talking about my illness, and they have helped me understand things that I could not even begin to think of.
I’ve learned that it’s you who is your enemy, you who beats yourself up, you who makes the monsters, and you who strips your own confidence. But also it is you who can save yourself, you who can win this battle, and you who can overcome all obstacles.
So if you or someone you know is battling depression or any other mental illness, please seek help. Find someone who you trust to talk to about what is going on in your mind. It may be just a jumble right now, but, with help, you can begin to understand what is going on. I cannot promise that it will be easy or short. I have been on the road to recovery for a while now. But the more you understand, the faster you can help others understand.
Please stay strong. Finding the will to continue to live when all you want to do is disappear is hard. I know. But someone somewhere will thank you for staying strong, because you are the reason they are still fighting. You have a purpose. If you do not believe me, come talk to me or any of your friends. Don’t let it break you.
No matter how hard it gets, life goes on. You have to fight through the bad days to earn the best days of your life. I believe in you.