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College Student in Distress


hhyle001
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I am a freshman in college and hating it. I suffer from depression that stems from genetics, my environment, and circumstances. I lived with my mother until I graduated from high school; she also suffers from depression, and I received a lot of verbal abuse from her as I was growing up. She was on medication but did not take it correctly. Now that we do not live together anymore, it's not as bad. Over the summer, I felt happy for the first time in a long time because I believed life would be better once I left for college and got away from my mom.

I was wrong. Once I got here, I immediately disliked having a roommate. Because I have no source of income and no money whatsoever besides what I received in scholarships, I cannot move to an apartment or somewhere besides a dorm. I also have no car, so I must stay on campus where everything I need is within walking distance. I dislike having a roommate because we have nothing in common, and she is slightly disrespectful. She has daytime sleeping habits and does not respect my nighttime ones. She plays loud music and invites friends over often. She seems to always be in the room when I am, and this is a big problem because I grew up very accustomed to a lot of alone time and privacy. Now that I have practically no alone time/privacy, my depression is intensified. I tried contacting the housing department and explaining my situation, requested a private room, but they told me no private rooms are available. I am stuck here; I can switch roommates, but this would still not satisfy my privacy issues.

I am loaded down with a full amount of credit hours and responsibilities to keep my scholarships, including participation in many student affairs as well as volunteer work. Although it is not as bad as when I first got here, it still gets quite overwhelming at times.

I have very few friends because I do not like the majority of college parties (which feature alcohol, weed, and more alcohol). I also do not stay here on weekends when most of the parties take place - I go stay at my sister's apartment. I am thankful that I have this bit of refuge.

I have been trying to make an appointment at the counseling center here, but there are a limited amount of counselors for a large student body. It is difficult to get an appointment - mine is not until next week, and I scheduled it back in September. I would like to go on medication as well but have no health insurance and probably cannot afford it.

I really do not know what to do, but perhaps getting all of this out is a start.

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I don't know the situation in your dorm, but usually there is a way you can request a change in roommates because of your situation. State the difference in sleep patterns and her disrespect of your sleep time. Even if you have to go to the dean of students, you need to get that situation changed!!!

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Since I'm a junior in college, I hope I can relate to a little bit to what you're going through. I lived in the dorms for two years and let me tell you that a good roommate and an awful roommate can make all the difference. A bad roommate can ruin your year, even if you're not depressed! I was also depressed my freshmen year, but it wasn't from a genetic background, it was merely the pressures of adjusting to a new schedule, a new way of living, and a different work load than what I had been used to.

It sounds like you are doing a good job taking action already. Being involved in activities can not only help you stay active and optimistic, but can keep you out of the room. My advice is, if you can absolutely not find a roommate more suited to your living situation, just stay out of the dorm. I know not having a car is rough, but find activities to do on campus - there are so many opportunities! Make some friends and hang out at their dorms, apartments, or home. You don't have to go to a party to have a good time.

I know school is overwhelming, but you just have to balance yourself and not try to get too pessimistic. I think seeing a counselor may help, especially if you start making it a continuous thing. Maybe a counselor can even help you confront your roommate. I know it's hard to be forceful with someone you're living in such closed quarters with, but you don't have to be friends, you just have to live together.

I hope this helps!

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Guest ASchwartz

Hi, hhyle001:

And, thank you to everyone who has responded thus far. I can tell you, not just as a therapist, but as a Dad who put two daughters through college, that the first year is absolutely the worst. Also, having the wrong roomate is too common. You really can request a change of room. Trust me from experience, there are other freshmen and sophmores who are unhappy with their roomate situations. The chances are that a dorm switch can be done.

Also, in terms of the counseling center, you have to be "pushy." I know that when you are depressed it is difficult to be assertive. Yet, if you demand to see a therapist or counselor because of the level of your depression, you will be seen. Tell them that its an emergency and, it really is, so that you are telling the truth.

In fact, if you are having any thoughts about life not being worth living then, use that to illustrate how bad off you are feeling.

Believe me when I tell you that the colleges and universities are very, very worried about the rate of suicide on campus. So, make it clear that you are in serious need of counseling.

Keep writing to us. This is a good place, others are or have been in your situation and can be warmly supportive.

Where is your father? Are there other relatives available to be supportive?

I agree that you are doing things correctly. You just need to be more insistent about the dorm and the counseling center.

By the way, this is a good chance you would benefit from medication and that could help you see things in more optimistic ways.

Allan

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Hi hhyle, I understand how overwhelming university work loads can be. Even when I began to appreciate how much I learned and improved, the pressure never seemed to abate because as one task ended another started. My expectations and those of others seemed to crash into each other; and, without defining and redefining my goals, I found it awful to forget why I was getting a degree in the first place. So, if you are interested in learning tricks to organize your goals and schedules, I suggest Getting Things Done, by David Allen. The book elaborates upon personal organization skills indirectly taught from K-12, but it provides suggestions and instructions to apply these skills directly.

Certainly, reading the book will not alleviate the work load, but it will give you some guidance as to how to address it; and, it will encourage you to begin thinking about your goals on multiple levels - in other words, how your current actions for various goals are helping you achieve what you really want out of your academic career. This is important as the immediate tasks you undertake should contribute to your academic career goals, but in order for you to be certain of this you have to actually examine and define these goals for yourself. I understand that you probably are a very driven person, considering your full course load and volunteering commitments; but, from personal experience, while I rationally recognized the need to invest time to refine my academic career goals on a periodic basis, I almost always put off doing so in favour of my assignments. Thus, I strongly advise you to look at your goals when you have the time, study where they lead, and make some plans to learn more of other possible career paths - even if you are committed to a career path already.

When you are caught in the "rat race", the remedy is to take a few moments to remind yourself of where you are going, and where you are not going...if that makes sense. Really, the very metaphor of "rat race" is depressing; so, when you find yourself feeling like you are a rat in a maze it is time to sit down and check your goals. What I failed to realize as a student was that even if I was a rat, I could choose where the cheese was simply by making my own goals and following them through.

I hope this helps.

Edited by kaudio
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I am a freshman in college and hating it. I suffer from depression that stems from genetics, my environment, and circumstances. I lived with my mother until I graduated from high school; she also suffers from depression, and I received a lot of verbal abuse from her as I was growing up. She was on medication but did not take it correctly. Now that we do not live together anymore, it's not as bad. Over the summer, I felt happy for the first time in a long time because I believed life would be better once I left for college and got away from my mom.

I was wrong. Once I got here, I immediately disliked having a roommate. Because I have no source of income and no money whatsoever besides what I received in scholarships, I cannot move to an apartment or somewhere besides a dorm. I also have no car, so I must stay on campus where everything I need is within walking distance. I dislike having a roommate because we have nothing in common, and she is slightly disrespectful. She has daytime sleeping habits and does not respect my nighttime ones. She plays loud music and invites friends over often. She seems to always be in the room when I am, and this is a big problem because I grew up very accustomed to a lot of alone time and privacy. Now that I have practically no alone time/privacy, my depression is intensified. I tried contacting the housing department and explaining my situation, requested a private room, but they told me no private rooms are available. I am stuck here; I can switch roommates, but this would still not satisfy my privacy issues.

I can certainly relate to ALL of this.

ROOMMATE SITUATION

When I arrived at my dorm room the first day, my roommate's parents put in a ceiling fan and drapes; and my roommate grabbed the bed by the window. That side had more "amenities". She was very social as well whereas I was not (at all). And when it was time to pay the phone bill she did not move an inch (yes it was in my name). I would bring it up later and she did not say a word. Then her boyfriend asks me why I want to pay the bill "now" instead of later (it was not his business!). And even when I called her mother she did not understand. Well in the end I cancelled the phone service and that fixed that. Then mid year I switched dorms. And what a big difference it made having a new roommate! Believe me it is worth trying!

She became a good friend. She'd tell me gently the things she saw in me like I did not have anything to do with other people. There was a boy there that liked me and I liked him but I would not budge. I was terrified. Anyways she was a godsend. (and I was there first so I got the window! :rolleyes: )

POSSIBLE DISCONNECT FROM PARENTS?

The other thing is that I can certainly completely relate to your first paragraph. That could be me you were writing about! I really thought that the farther I got from home the happier I would be. But no, I became isolated and really needed my space. I would develop this cocoon around me in the dorm room and block out everything. I think perhaps that I was having trouble with dealing with this invisible psychological or emotional connection I had with my parents back home. I became very suicidal and had absolutely no one to talk to, or at least I did not realize at the time I needed to talk to someone. Well yes I did call my parents and cried a lot over the telephone. I look back later and wonder now if folks passing the room could hear me. I'd play my guitar in the stairwell (the acoustics are quite different in stairwells) and people would be so nicey nice. I'd think at the time, "do they know there is something wrong with me?"

I do not know if you are having the same CONNECTION problems I had or not. I just thought that perhaps I'd bring it up in case you were going through the same thing and did not realize this? Do you think that perhaps the connection with your parents has anything to do with how you are feeling now?

Then again I was slow developmentally, both socially and emotionally. I call it "stunted". :o

The positive things I remember about living on campus now, is that everything you need is there. It is like one little society of its own. My PO box was there, the cafeteria, practice rooms (for music majors), the clinic, a movie theater, tennis courts, ... I sat in on a psychology class when a friend told me about this professor. He spoke so eloquently, and you could hang on to every word. But then a teaching assistant took over and he was difficult to listen to. It was just not the same.

I do hope that things improve for you quickly. Keep writing to us. :)

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