Welcome to Better Than Your Horoscope, where you ask me your questions and I answer them to the best of my ability.
Do you have any mental health advice regarding diagnosis or healthcare or day-to-day life?
I do! But I am also not a professional, so take everything I say with a grain of salt!
During this time of term, it’s especially important to check in with your mental health. Between classes winding down, finals and figuring out summer plans, it can seem like everything is crashing around you. Adding depression, anxiety or just feeling plain bad on top of that stress is a recipe for some not-so-fun days.
If you’ve been feeling not like yourself, or just bad, for a while now, then you might be interested in receiving some sort of diagnosis. Defining your mental illness is a step to coping with it, whether that be through counseling or medication, or both.
Going to counseling is a good place to start — even if you’re not looking for a diagnosis. Our counseling center has three counselors in addition to one counselor just for intake appointments. Hopefully you’ll be able to find someone you mesh with, and if you don’t, there’s always the option of finding counseling elsewhere, even over the phone.
There can be a stigma around going to counseling, but as roommates say, everybody should go. It’s an opportunity to get in touch with your emotions and process your feelings, past, surroundings and life in a productive way. What’s wrong with that?
I can confidently say that I would not have made it through this year without seeking counseling in the fall. While the diagnosis I received was more of a soft one, having a definition for what I was experiencing helped me come to terms with how to deal with it. Having brushed my feelings under the rug as “stress” and “feeling bad” for so long, it was nice to be validated.
And if you don’t believe me, you could always watch the “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” episode where the main character, Rebecca, gets diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. Because that’s some powerful stuff.
The counseling center can also point you to the nurse practitioners in the health center who can write you prescriptions for antidepressants or anxiety medications. Pretty much any nurse practitioner can prescribe these medications for you, so you could also talk to your family doctor or an OB/GYN at Family Planning in town.
In terms of living day-to-day with a mental illness, or generally being in a low place, it’s so important to take things one day at a time, but to also set goals for yourself. If you’re someone who works better with tasks, ask your counselor to give you a “homework assignment.” Even if it’s just to write in a journal or take a bath or call a friend, that can be pretty huge.
It’s important to find what works for you in terms of getting through the day, the week, the term. What helps you get out of bed or go to that party when you really don’t want to. For me, I have to give myself something to look forward to, even if that something is just alone time at the end of the day with a book.
It’s hard to give advice when everyone is experiencing something different and deals with things differently. You have to listen to yourself, and reach out for help when you need it.
But even if you don’t think you need to: sit down and take stock of your emotions. How have you been feeling lately? How do you feel about the upcoming weeks? What can you do to make things more manageable? Should you cut down some things on your schedule? Should you add more things to your schedule? Should you make some more time for yourself? Should you get a head start on your work? Should you reach out to a friend?
Only you know the answers to these questions, but I think it’s important to ask.
Good luck with the rest of the term and everything in the future!
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