Tag Archives: panic attack

College Students Discuss Struggles with Their Mental Health

College is a time for exploration – figuring out what we believe, learning what we want to do with our lives, and meeting a lot of new people.  It can be a time of great stress too though, and when we have a mental illness this can make our adjustment to college life hard.  Sometimes, just adjusting to college in general can bring depression to the forefront.  Here are stories from students at three universities, discussing their struggles with mental illness – everything from depression and anxiety to OCD and anorexia. 


Leeds University Students Discuss Their Mental Health


University College Dublin Students Discuss Their Mental Health


Trinity College Dublin Students Discuss Their Mental Health

Dissociation and Staying in the Here and Now.

Dissociation.  It sucks.  It has been happening to me a lot I guess.

My anxiety medication was making things worse for me, so I was taken off of it.  But while I was on it, my dissociation was even worse than before.  But even off of it, I still dissociate. It is completely frustrating

So, some of you might not even know what dissociation is. 

Dissociation – It can be mild detachment from immediate surroundings to more severe detachment from physical and emotional experience.

It does not necessarily mean you have Dissociative Identity Disorder (formerly Multiple Personality Disorder).  Dissociation can simply mean you , somewhat zone out, detach yourself from what is around you, go off into your own world so you do not think what your mind wants you to think or feel. 

Dealing with my past history of abuse has been incredibly hard.  Thinking of that, the sexual abuse, the rape, everything – it has just made me incredibly anxious and depressed and quite honestly, the suicidal ideations have been running rampant in my head. 

Sometimes, I don’t even have to be thinking about any of it, and suddenly a memory will just pop into my brain and trigger me and I either have a flashback, a panic attack, or completely dissociate.  During therapy, the dissociation has happened more frequently.  It is really frustrating.  Sometimes I come out of it and just want to cry.  I feel horrible.  I don’t want to talk at all. 

It is really hard to deal with.  Staying in the here and now – I guess I just have to keep learning how to do that.  I guess I need to practice using my grounding techniques more frequently when my anxiety is high and the dissociation occurs.  As my therapist says, she is there to help me through it when it happens in her office, but when she is not around, I have to learn how to do it on my own. 

Keeping a Routine – Essential but Oh So Hard!

Staying on a routine is incredibly hard for me, but it is one of the most important things to keeping me mentally healthy!!!

I am on disability and so I literally have almost nothing to do all day.  I try so hard to keep a routine.  I try to plan things to do – get up, brush my teeth, take a shower, ummm what else? What else is there to do?  I can’t spend money, I have no money.  I have no where to go.  I really don’t know anyone.  The people I do know are from my support group and they live like an hour away.  That’s a no go.  Hmm, what else is there.  Sit around, read, write, draw paint.  Walk.  Ok, but I can do those whenever I want.  Sleep.  Ruminate on the past.  Have a flashback, a panic attack.  Cry.  Ruminate some more.  Oooh hi anxiety, you are back for a visit! 

The most stable I ever was, was when I was in the state hospital for 6 months.  I had a set schedule, wake up, get ready, breakfast, community meeting, go to groups all day long (all of which I really enjoyed and learned from), made lots of friends, had lunch in between it all, came back for dinner, had option groups (fun stuff like cooking class, movie club, etc), and then we could stay up as late as we wanted to watch tv, read, etc as long as we woke up the next morning on time.  It was perfect for me.  I was held accountable to a schedule. I was expected to be somewhere at a certain time and I had consequences for not being there.  There was really no stress related to it though, if it didn’t happen, there was a consequence, (loss of off unit privileges etc) but I could talk through what happened with the therapists. 

My problem here is the stress of getting a job completely overwhelms me.  I will self sabotage because of the anxiety.  I have attempted suicide on multiple occasions before a job interview.  If I even get a job I end up getting so stressed out I just quit the job or call in sick all the time.  And now, I cannot even get an interview to a job because I have no work history for the last 2 years.  So I cannot even try to see how I would do. 

I have worked with my psychiatrist and therapist to discuss getting on a routine at home on me own – wake up, daily hygiene, daily walk, spend time working on my art, call someone each day (socialization of some time since I isolate), no electronics for more than 4 hours a day (not working so much since I started this blog!), and then a bedtime routine.  As much as I tried to do that, I just cant stick to it.  I am not accountable to anyone but myself and there are no consequences if I don’t do it.  If I had to be somewhere at a certain time to meet someone, I can follow through with that – therapy, NAMI group, those I can do.  But spend 2 hours on art, sure I will do that when I feel like it.  Call someone, I freak out calling people, so that will happen when I decide it happens – unless someone says I owe them a lot of money and I know that my bank account depends on it cause I cant afford it and I know it is a mistake.  Routines just don’t work for me!

I know they are essential to my mental health though.  I have talked to a lot of other people from my support groups and have heard it from many other therapists over my years in counseling and they all agree, routines make things better.  They help you stay focused and busy so you have less time to think about the negatives.  They keep you from ruminating on the past or what is going on. 

Do you have a routine? How do you keep your routine?  Do you feel like it helps with your mental health?