Five Ways To Deal With Depression At University
I’m a second-year linguistics student and I’ve suffered with depression and anxiety for a long, long time. My first year at university was a wonderful experience, but depression makes anything tough, and I would be lying if I said I didn’t struggle a lot. I’ve come through to the other side, though, and I’ve compiled a list of tips that I hope will be helpful for anyone that finds themselves in a situation like mine.
1. It’s Okay To Ask For Help
I can say with some confidence (although do correct me if I’m wrong) that every university has some kind of student support in place. This is because uni is a difficult and stressful time for a lot of people, so mental health issues are all too common. You are not alone, and those student services are there to make sure you get the help you need. Whether it’s medication, therapy, time off from academia (I’ve done this! It’s okay!), or something else entirely, do not be afraid to ask for whatever it is you need to get better. Your first point of contact will usually be your academic supervisor, and they should be able to direct you from there — as well as periodically checking up on you to make sure you’re doing okay.
2. Your Lecturers Are People Too
I think everyone has at least one asshole lecturer (and if you have more than one, then I feel bad for you, son), but for the most part they are open to communication and are very supportive of their students. I’ve had to send out countless “sorry I missed all your lectures / sorry my assignment is late” emails in the last year, and I haven’t been told off like a child yet! You have to remember that these people teach countless students, and you will not be the only one struggling. If you need an extension, ask for it! If there’s something you don’t understand, ask for clarification! If you need an appointment for one-on-one help, ask! …do you see where I’m going with this? It’s always better to communicate — especially because that way, you have documentation that says you told them you were struggling, so they don’t think you’re trying to gloss over a hangover when you miss a mock exam.
3. Don’t Bite Off More Than You Can Chew
Okay, now this point definitely varies from person to person. Some people might find that keeping busy actually helps them take their mind off things, and if that’s you, then by all means sign up for anything and everything and keep on with your bad self. For me, however, the opposite is true. I started out my first year with the best of intentions, joining all manner of clubs and societies and taking on numerous responsibilities that I thought I could handle. By the end of the first term, it became clear to me that I’d Made A Mistake — my depression made sure that I didn’t get out of bed for lectures, let alone extracurricular activities, and I ended up feeling even worse because I flaked on a load of commitments. I know that everyone talks about how important extracurriculars are, but your mental health is more important, and you’re probably not going to be on top form anywhere if it’s all you can do to drag yourself out of your dorm to get there.
4. Make Friends
I know this might seem to run contrary to my last point, but friends are the one thing you don’t want to compromise on (other than schoolwork… I don’t want to lead you astray, guys). Depression is an incredibly isolating illness, but the right friends will understand that you’re not always feeling sociable and they’ll be there for you no matter what. Good friends will gently convince you to at least come out once a week (and chances are you’ll surprise yourself with how much fun you have, although if you’re anything like me you’ll still need persuading to come out the week after). They’ll happily share their notes with you and talk you through things you don’t understand when you’re too anxious to follow the advice to email your teachers. They’ll be there through thick and thin, and I promise you that you’ll be damn glad you made them.
5. Make Sure You Catch Up
Thankfully I managed to pass my first year, but I honestly believe that I would have failed had it not been for the fact that all the lecture notes were put online each week. I believe most universities have a similar system now, and it’s an absolute miracle sent from the heavens. My attendance was hovering around 30%, but for every lecture I missed I’d copy out the notes and try my hardest to make sure I understood it all. I do not recommend this, because it’s time-consuming and difficult and isolating at times, but as a last resort it’s a way to make sure you don’t fall too far behind. Incidentally, if your uni doesn’t do this, it’s probably worth shooting an email to your lecturers and asking if they wouldn’t mind sending you a copy of the slides.
If there’s one thing I want you to take from this article, it’s that depression doesn’t mean you can’t go to university, or that you’ll fail once you’re there. There are always things in place to catch you when you fall — although to take advantage of those things, you’ll often have to take some initiative. I know it’s scary, but you can do it. I promise.
Have you ever experienced depression while at university? How did you deal? Feel free to leave me a comment – as a new writer and editor here at Feminspire, I will be checking back and would be happy to give any advice or help that I can.
Written by Kaya Harridge