My freshman year of college I wanted to kill myself. Not in a joking “oh my god college is so hard I want to kill myself ha-ha” kind of way. I mean in a no hope, suicide note, death wise, kind of way. See I had decided to move to a new city for college, two hours away from my hometown, and I had planned to start fresh. I was so excited to begin a new chapter and then something happened the summer before my freshman year that ruined that. I had experienced something traumatic, that I decided to suppress, paired with my already underlying undiagnosed anxiety disorder, which resulted in a shitty freshman.
I wanted to start off strong and I did, taking 18 credit hours and working hard to pass all of them. I ended up working 30 hours a week at my job and so when I wasn’t at school, I was at work. And all that stretching myself thin just lead to a stressful life. I had spiraled downward quickly, as my anxiety got worse the more stressed out I was. Then it happened. I broke.
It was like a crack in a dam, that finally erupted and spilled all the suppressed trauma and stress out in the open. That panic attack was the second worst one I had ever experienced and got me to finally get a diagnosis paired with medication. So, I cut back, on school and work and I still felt so overwhelmed by the anxiety. I started to seclude myself, as I felt no one could ever understand what I was feeling. The more anxious I was, the more frustrated I got with life, and the more I started to want to end it all. I didn’t know how to fix the pain, so I numbed it out with medication. I had felt so hopeless, because my anxiety took over my life, so much I couldn’t even make out of my dorm room for class. And I didn’t realize how much help I could have gotten if I had just looked around.
One day, out of the blue I notice a flyer. It read “free therapy! School counseling for students” I kept it out of curiosity and ended up making an appointment. That appointment was the scariest moment of my freshman year. The school therapist was licensed, he asked simple questions to get to the root of my anxiety problem and it all came out. He was the first person I had talked to about the trauma, he was the first person that helped me learn how to stop suppressing, and he was the first person to tell me how to help myself fix it. That lead me to other resources and I ended up having to shamefully withdrawal from my class ¾ of the way through my second semester. I was so ashamed because of it, but looking back, it was what I needed to take time to work through my problems and heal.
So, what I learned from my freshman year of college:
Don’t bite off more than you can chew- it’s better to take less classes at first and work only a healthy amount.
Don’t suppress your feelings- even if you don’t have any mental illnesses or traumatic events, it is unhealthy to keep your feeling bottled up.
Don’t be afraid to look for resources- most colleges have free programs or people to help you get through the semester such as free tutoring, discount massages, counseling, and so much more.
Don’t isolate yourself- you’re never as alone or helpless as you think you are.
Do something to destress frequently- enjoy college, go to events, clubs, or parties, anything to help you make feel less stressed.