You don’t need a degree to know that college is hard. Between staying up late to study and working through meals, physical health often gets pushed to the side. But what people don’t see is that after four years, we also sacrifice at least a portion of our mental health in exchange for our diploma –a part of us that we can’t work off at the gym.
We hear about these issues all the time, but often push them to the side. From depressing tweets to Facebook rants about overwhelming course loads, people brush off our concerns as complaints, when in reality the problem is no exaggeration.
In any given week, college students can feel like they’re drowning with no way out. Course loads on top of extracurricular activities on top of searching for internships and jobs soon pile up and feelings of fear and doubt sink in.
Just search ‘university suicides’ and you’ll get thousands of hits. College depression and suicide rates account for over half of those of the general population. And the numbers spike tremendously around midterm and finals week, leading to dramatic personality and belief changes, otherwise known as ‘the experimental time of our life.’
Ignoring our feelings needs to stop. Whether it’s talking to a significant other, roommate or family member, you should never be afraid of getting feelings of fear and doubt out. If you don’t get them out, they will start to eat you alive. It’s this unglamorous side to college that no one prepares us for.
Instead, we constantly hear about how much fun we’ll have partying and going out with friends. It’s easy to see why drugs and alcohol are so closely related to college. We try and escape the reality of classes, homework, and job-hunting, but at what cost?
There’s no harm in wanting to escape reality for a while – that’s why we get Saturday and Sunday off. The problem starts when we begin to escape reality more than we live in it. This is when the university steps in to tell us how much we’re damaging our minds and bodies.
By implementing mandatory drug and alcohol classes, universities create strict rules and programs to educate us about how much we can escape, which creates tension between students and administration. They are more concerned about how we escape our feelings of doubt and fear than they are with why we have the feelings in the first place.
With administration and courses that won’t let up, it’s important to know that you’re not alone in feeling overwhelmed. For many students it’s the first time experiencing these types of pressures and challenges, and it can be confusing as how to deal with them. With the right support, hard times will pass and you’ll be stronger because of them.
People are shocked when they see the people close to them develop depression, anxiety or other mental disorders, but they never stop to think why this happens. We need to let university students feel that it is okay to walk away from things you cannot handle. There is no shame in knowing that you’ve hit your limits.
College is more than just getting a degree. It teaches you to handle the darkest challenges of life and come out above them. Although it sometimes seems impossible to get through at times, together we can stop sacrificing our mental health to get our diplomas.
Featured image via Flickr