Major Life Changes Can Affect Your Mental Health

Dominique Kent/Contributing Writer

Mental health is an issue on college campuses. But it’s an issue that can be overcome.

Many college campuses in the country are populated with students like me, as we do our best to deal with these invisible issues. 75 percent of adults that suffer from anxiety experience their first symptoms before age 22, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. 41.6 percent of students are concerned about anxiety and 24.5 percent are on medication for a psychological issue.

I have personal experience with these numbers. In 2016, I made the transition from high school to college in Reno, Nevada. A few months later, I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder I, a legal disability. A few months after transferring to FIU in 2019, I found myself at Counseling and Psychological Services in the midst of a full manic episode and relying on the Disability Resource Center to avoid failing my classes.

The situation looked grim, and it looks grim for the many other students who struggle with similar circumstances. But I knew what I did wrong, and I was able to course-correct. I was supported by University services like CAPS and the DRC, as well as understanding professors and a strong home support system.

In an ideal world, transitions like mine should be taken slowly and carefully. My advice to others who might be going through a similar transition is to do your homework. For people who deal with mental illness, major life changes are often difficult and disorienting. It’s easy to feel weak or helpless – and even to relapse. To live a full, bold and healthy life, we need to listen to ourselves and our bodies and take appropriate precautions.

As a quick reminder, you don’t have to have a diagnosed disorder to experience difficult and even dangerous bouts of anxiety, depression and other symptoms. Anyone can struggle; there are days that bring anxiety or depression or struggle for everyone, and everyone is allowed to feel the full weight of those days and ask for the help they need.

I’ve had a long road dealing with my disorder, and I still do, but college campuses like FIU provide the support to help me keep moving. Teachers are trained to help students or direct them toward the resources they need. The DRC can provide accommodations for legal disabilities. At CAPS or the Student Health Center, students can receive free one-on-one or group counseling and receive medication prescription and management. There is a huge support system where the people who populate FIU really, genuinely care about making sure every Panther is safe and healthy.

With the help I received, I’m able to move forward with my life and with my school. Going into the spring, I have my resources in place and I’ve learned – or relearned – how to make it easier on myself.

Despite all my struggles, I made it through another semester. And whatever your struggles, you will too.

Featured photo courtesy by Kevin Simmons on Flickr.

 

DISCLAIMER:

The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.

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