21. Not Your Average College Student | #Blog4MH

The illusive state of the college student. They procrastinate, study for hours, cram for finals and exams, have piles of schoolwork to do. They juggle work hours, volunteering, internships, schoolwork–then add in friendships, relationships, socializing. They may drink alcohol at parties, attend parties to begin with, have sex and do even more than I can imagine here.

Except, I’m not your average college student. And if you’re reading this and you have a mental health condition (that you’ve recognized and have relatively accepted) you’re probably not either.

I don’t go to parties, I don’t even know the people that go to parties. I’ve know a couple of people who go to bars, but that’s about it. The majority of my friends either don’t drink or don’t drink very much. I don’t drink so there’s that. (Since I’ve started this blog I’ve wanted to do a post on “Introvert At A Party”–that will come into existence for reals this summer, so stay tuned)

As a college student, I procrastinate. I have piles of homework. I have friends and do the socializing. But I don’t juggle work, not really. I don’t juggle with volunteering or internships (yet). I don’t really study for hours and I’m definitely not sexually active.

Rather, I juggle with my brain and all its bullshittery. That is a full time job in and of itself.

The reason I bring this up is because I don’t believe that the average mentally healthy college student behaves in the same way as a struggling with their mental health college student. Now, maybe that’s a BOLD statement to be making and I don’t even necessarily mean for it to be, but let’s look at it further, shall we?

The average college student without a diagnosable (could have sworn that was a word) mental health condition will procrastinate, spend odd hours of the night working on schoolwork (that they put off), wake up or sleep irregularly, eat sparingly, skip classes… Actually the more I think of it, I suppose there doesn’t seem to be a difference, does there?

I guess what I want to say is that there’s a difference between myself (and likely some of you all out there) and other college students. Maybe the difference isn’t necessarily mental health status. Maybe it’s about resiliency and coping strategies.

But what I hear the most is the excuse that a person doesn’t have TIME for coping.

Yet, I have to disagree with that.

There is TIME for coping, it’s just about how one manages said levels of time.

Is it easy? No. Is it tiring? Yep. But is it necessary? Hell yes!

If you’re not coping in an adaptive manner for yourself, your mental health will gradually decline and grow brittle, so to speak. It will be easier for you to get triggered or wind up with worse problems that what you started out with.

For me, I hear about other students being able to wake up at 2am to do a 5 page paper, or skip eating several meals to get their work done, or have dozens of exams and still come out on top. As an outsider looking in, I don’t know how they do it.

Maybe it’s because I’m not in that position that I don’t understand it. I must be different because when I try to do any of that stuff, my brain implodes and I wind up in a crisis.

My other main point is that basic physical needs come first. At least, for me, although I imagine it’s truth for others as well.

That means I have to work on getting enough sleep, eating enough, having shelter, basic hygiene (teeth, hair, showering), and securing my physical safety.

After that level of self-care, I need to take my meds and attend therapy. Then comes adaptive coping strategies and THEN there’s schoolwork, work life, other demands, etc.

Priorities. Many college students need to get that shit together. Including me!

Because if I don’t self-care I wind up in bad places. Like sticking shit in outlets that I shouldn’t be doing. Or throwing craisins around in the bathroom. Because fuck it.

I’m not sure if my point was all that cohesive through this post, but it often feels like to me that I’m different from the typical normative college student. I cannot pull all-nighter’s any longer. I cannot wake up at 2am to write a paper. I cannot wake up at 4am to write a paper. I can’t bang out a paper without freezing for several moments first. I lack the motivation to study or care about my schooling. In the larger scheme of things it doesn’t really matter. I can’t skip so many meals. I can’t work several hours.

Rather, I’m a college student that gets her 8-9 hours of sleep a night. I go to bed at 9p, 10 at the latest. I take about an hour nap during the day to recharge. I have to eat my meals because I can’t afford to lose weight. I try to cope as best as I can given the situations and the life that I’m living, because if I don’t I wind up in bad places mentally. I take my meds, I go to therapy, I work hard in keeping myself safe. I color, I blog, I watercolor. I listen to music and try to enjoy the bright moments of my days. I hang out in Craig’s office and with my friends. I’ll eat sushi ’cause it makes me happy.

I get my work done, even if it’s delayed and maybe not always my best.

But if I didn’t meet my basic needs, that work would be a lot worse.

Maybe it is just me, but I have to make the time to care for myself and be OKAY so that I can do everything else. ‘Cause if I’m not okay, nothing else can get done. I have to be ALIVE in order to get my schoolwork done.

And that’s what it comes down to at the start of each day:

Survival. Surviving. Being a survivor.

 

 

❤ ❤ ❤

 

20. Under Attack | #Blog4MH

I’ve tried and thought about writing post #20 about three different times now. Mainly, I’ve tried doing yesterday’s daily prompt yesterday, the recovery A-Z challenge the day before that and yesterday as a SADIM post.

Yet, here we are now.

The past few days have been a bit of a roller coaster ride. Monday night I started my period. Oh fun. Monday is also when I started feeling the effects of a cold coming on. Plus it’s near finals time. What a great combination!

I’ve been getting triggered from twitter lately, as you guys have heard. I had a slight altercation with someone on twitter the other day that left me shaken and vulnerable. I had a moment of stress and a small crisis Monday night, after hearing some information about doggo related stuff that I hadn’t been expecting, mainly more responsibilities stuff and also the lack of faith in me that I can care for another animal.

I realized after I made a tweet that I was very much capable of self-harming and had a mental image of doing so that led me to text some friends. That helped. I bypassed that.

Tuesday was all right. I worked on some school related material. But I haven’t been eating well in the last week. I’ve been hungry but not interested in eating. My self-care in that sense has been off. I also have had trouble staying asleep. Even with my naps during the day a bit.

Any who, with that altercation on twitter I felt more vulnerable on Wednesday.

What happened later is a friend of mine was telling me all about their school workload and the hours they had to work and I got overwhelmed from THEIR stuff. I made a joking remark that in their situation I wouldn’t have been able to handle all that.

Then I realized I wasn’t joking.

And I accidentally triggered myself with those memories, thoughts and feelings.

And my anxiety skyrocketed.

And then I was in a crisis.

I felt unsafe in my safe place.

I couldn’t move, I needed to, wanted to, but couldn’t. Because I was hungry the anxiety was even worse. Because I was tired the anxiety was worse. Because I was already stressed and vulnerable by other factors in my life, the anxiety was worse.

I was a solid 90 on the 100 scale.

Having the intrusive thoughts made me even MORE anxious. I was physically shaking, my heart was racing and beating irregularly here and there (which was uncomfortable by so much) and I was having racing thoughts and talking very quickly.

Another friend of mine that I was actually with at the time helped to be there for me. They asked me what they could do. We played with some modeling clay. (which helped quite a bit). I tried texting a couple other friends but they were busy.

I needed Craig and he wasn’t there, until he was. And I told him what was happening and he suggested going to the counseling center, so there I went.

That was probably a panic attack that I had, that I’ve never had before and hope I don’t again. It was terrible. I rarely get THAT bad of anxiety so it was all around new and terrible.

But I went to the center and I spoke with someone and I was down to a 40 when I got out. I went and got some sushi. Ate that. And just continued working on calming down thereafter.

 

Later on, the depressive slide came to me. So I had my parent pick me up. ‘Cause otherwise I would have needed to go back to the counseling center (which is all right, but I just wanted to go home).

And now we’re here.

Having to recount the story multiple times wasn’t all that helpful for me. So I didn’t mention it right away last night. We got some Little Caesar’s pizza and my favorite breadsticks and I ate dinner and then went to sleep around 8p. I felt bad for not doing even a SADIM for a song that helped me the night before but…

It’s been suggested to me that all this focus on mental health may be triggering me more than helping me. I don’t know about that for sure.

I don’t have many people believing in me right now and that hurts. I’m under attack, mentally and physically. I don’t know how I’ll make it through the summer. I don’t have perspective. I don’t know how to move through this.

 

But I have a few days left of the semester. I have a few essays left to turn in and a final on Monday at 3p to study for and read and watch movies for. I think I will watch movies this weekend and be spreading out the reading assignments from now til Sunday.I have a couple of emails to send my professor’s about extensions, particularly in sociology for a late paper I’m turning in.

I want to say more, but I’ll do it separately. Otherwise, I’ll just be deleting this. I’m sorry. 😦