I usually spend my time here on FIRST Ladies talking about college and what it’s like to be a design student, but I wanted to talk about something that isn’t really addressed in the blogs: stress, depression, and anxiety.
Growing up, I always pushed myself to succeed and for the most part, that helped me excel in school and robotics. However, I spent so much of my time obsessing over grades and deadlines that towards the end of my high school career, it was destroying my life. I remember thinking that I was the only one who felt the way I did, and I was all alone. It was around this time when I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. When I was diagnosed, I realized that one in four people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives. The thing about having an anxiety disorder is that it didn’t just appear in my life. I was born with a chemical imbalance in my brain and it wasn’t until I was at my absolute lowest, did I come to terms with it.
At this point in my life, I more or less have things under control. I take medication and occasionally see a therapist when my anxiety levels get too high. Regardless, I have my good days and my bad days and the bad days can be really hard to deal with. The saying that “your worst enemy is yourself” rings especially true on the bad days. I have found that there are some ways to make the bad days less “bad” and I thought I would share some resources and information I have discovered over the years.
In general, here are some good things to know, regardless of your age:
- Whether you are in high school or college, if your anxiety or depression have an impact on your academics, talk to disability services! Academic institutions are not only willing to make accommodations, but are legally required to make these accommodations in order to ensure your success.
- If your mental health is affecting your everyday life, consider talking to a health care professional. They can help you figure out what you are specifically affected by and suggest possible medications and treatment. Mental health is usually not black and white so it might take some time to figure out what works for you.
- Develop a support system of friends and family as well as trusted health care professionals. When you are struggling, reach out to these people.
- Spend time with animals! Studies show that people with stress, anxiety, and depression see many benefits from interacting with animals. An emotional support animal is also an option to consider. Under the Fair Housing Act, most housing types can not deny you residency if you have an emotional support animal – this includes dorms!
- This website has a lot of good information on emotional support animals: https://www.animallaw.info/article/faqs-emotional-support-animals#s4
If you are in college, you have to make an extra effort, these are some helpful reminders:
- If you take medication, make sure you work with your health care professional to ensure that you have a way to obtain your medication while away from home. This also goes for therapy. If you regularly see a therapist, work with them to find a therapy option near or on campus. Many academic institutions have also have mental health clinics and counseling services for students!
- Living on your own means you are 100% responsible of taking care of yourself, make sure you are educated and ask if you have questions. College isn’t exactly the best time to avoid your mental health. When you are spending thousands of dollars a semester for classes, the last thing you want is a mental breakdown to inhibit your life to the point where you can’t successfully be a student.
- Know the signs of mental health challenges. This website offers some great information on mental health for students: http://www.bestcolleges.com/resources/top-5-mental-health-problems-facing-college-students/
- Take care of your body! Wellness is a combination of mental and physical health. What you eat and how much you exercise can have a significant impact on your mental health.
- This pdf has some great information on wellness for college students: https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/tandfbis/rt-files/docs/5+Key+Tips+for+College+Student+Wellness.pdf
Some other websites and articles with great information regarding mental health: