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How to Survive Your School Year If You Have a Mental Illness


This school year has been the hardest one for me. With a familial predisposition to depression and anxiety and loss of support systems on campus, I found myself celebrating my birthday in a mental health hospital. This school may or may not be the best place for me now. It is over two hours from my support system and family are. That’s too far. Support is what is needed for recovery. So, at the end of the school year, I am transferring to a college close to home, because I can’t give up learning.

That being said, I still have three months until school is over. How can I do it?

These are my simple steps to get there:

1) Breathe.

Take a deep breath when everything is overwhelming. Breathe in for four seconds, hold for two seconds, breathe out for six sections. Repeat until your head is slightly clearer.

2) Attend class.

Sitting in your room doing nothing will not help anyone. Maybe class is just too adventurous some days, so get up, email your teacher and study.

3) When in doubt, call for help.

Calling, texting and reaching out for help when you need it is important. Don’t be afraid to ask, because people are willing to help.

4) Reward yourself.

Start small and make it worthwhile. “If I attend 10 classes this week, then I can go eat sushi at a restaurant.” The smallest motivation to get up and do what needs to be done is sometimes necessary.

5) Take your meds.

It’s easy to forget, especially if they are new. Make it a habit; if you don’t feel better now, you will when they get in your system. Don’t give up on them.

Finally, take it one day at a time. One hour at a time, one minute at a time. Believe you can, because you are the strongest person you know, even if you don’t feel it.

Editor’s note: Please see a doctor before starting or stopping a medication.

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Thinkstock photo via shironosov


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