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What It’s Like Being a College Student With a Mental Illness

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Trying to function in college with a mental illness? You’re not alone.

I’ve been in college now for about six years now and truthfully, I always have felt alone with my struggles of anxiety and bipolar disorder. I feel like it’s such a taboo topic to bring up on college campuses in general. This past school year I decided it would be a fantastic idea to take on seven classes in addition to working 18 hours on weekends. Sounds like the life of a college student, right? Well, for someone who has bipolar II and generalized anxiety disorder, this could be a recipe for disaster. At least in my case it was.

• What is Bipolar disorder?

Even though I was spending every waking moment studying, I was nearly failing all of my classes and ended up dropping two of them just so I could function. I was always in and out of my advisor’s office, which would often leave me feeling shameful and guilty for needing the extra support. I often thought to myself, “’Normal’ people can take on this class load, why can’t I?”

That’s where I had to stop myself, and draw a line down the middle of this black and white thinking. There’s no such thing as a “normal” student.

In my six years of being in college, I have come to meet so many people from so many walks of life. I have been surprised to find out that a majority of the people also deal with a mental illness in one form or another. It’s comforting to know I’m not the only one on the campus that thinks or feels this way sometimes.

My advice to those going through college and feeling as though things will never get better is to reach out for help. Reach out for assistance from a therapist, guidance counselor, a friend, a professor, your advisor, etc. All of these people are here to help you succeed. You don’t even have to have a face-to-face interaction! It could be through e-mail. I have found that more often than not, professors are willing to work with you to get make-up work done or even give extra credit so I could catch up.

This past semester, I was in an intensive outpatient program while still fully enrolled in a college. I reached out to my advisor and my professors and explained the situation, and they were more than willing to work with me.

I promise you’re not alone in this fight. So many people care about you and want you to succeed both academically and mentally.

Unsplash via Element5 Digital

Originally published: December 3, 2018
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