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What I Want College Students Struggling With Mental Illness to Know

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Being a college student in general is difficult, requiring a lot of dedication and motivation. But being a college student with a mental illness can feel like pure hell sometimes. People always say college is supposed to be the “best four years of your life.” You imagine yourself as a freshman going out to parties all the time, meeting new people, creating new memories, experiencing new things, new people and ideas, yet when you’re struggling with a mental illness, this can all seem more difficult than it is for everyone else.

Imagine having a mental illness and trying to fit the standards of everyone else. Getting help can be often be a real problem on college campuses. For some of the schools in my area, there’s a six month waiting list for counseling. Imagine needing to wait half year to receive help. The semester could possibly be over by then and you wouldn’t be able to get help when you’re struggling to keep up in your classes and keep up with your life. There needs to be in increase of counselors and staff on college campuses.

Additionally, it’s important to realize having a mental illness while attending college does not mean you aren’t capable of doing the work. Mental illness can be an obstacle in your life, but obstacles can be overcome. You’re no less smart, dedicated or hard-working than anyone else just because you’re struggling.

Those who are struggling with a mental illness in college can feel left behind and disregarded. When you surprise yourself with a good grade or surprise yourself by getting up for class, people may say, “Those are things you should be doing anyway.” Responses like these can really undermine the inner turmoil you’re feeling and ultimately make it worse.

For anyone who is struggling at a university, please know you’re worth it and you can make it. Don’t let your illness win, no matter how hard it seems. Recovery is real and possible. Stability is real and possible. You are enough and you’re no less than anyone else just because you struggle with mental illness.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

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Thinkstock photo via rawpixel.

Originally published: March 23, 2017
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