How to cope with depression at university/everyday life?

Hi everyone! Just wondering if anyone has any advice on coping with depression at university. I've had depression for 5 years and have tried medication and counselling in the past, the medication didn't work for me but I plan to start counselling again. My depression is largely down to family problems so I decided to move to a different country for university. I thought this would help and it has somewhat but I'm still finding it difficult to even get out of bed in the morning so my attendance is very poor and it's likely I will fail the year. I also feel extremely lonely a lot of the time as I had made a good group of friends at the start of the year but due to poor attendance/hiding away in my room/ making excuses to avoid social activities I quickly lost that. I spoke to the head of the course about my depression and at first they were helpful but since it has been going on the whole year it's got to the point were they think I'm just lazy/don't want to work. Lately, I've started to feel suicidal because I don't even know why I still feel like this, even though I'm studying the subject I love I have no passion/drive to do anything and it seems like no matter how hard I try to change things they never do.

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  • Hi Kate, welcome to the forum. There are a few students who post here and I'm sure they'll be able offer a better insight than I can, but I didn't want to read and run!

    It's funny how people can appear supportive at first, but they soon get bored of not knowing the right words to say. Does your uni have a counselling service which you could access?

    I think if you're having any kind of suicidal thoughts, it's important to have a chat with your GP, or similar. Don't be frightened by these thoughts, but don't ignore them either.

    When you say you went to uni in a different country, are you in the UK as a student, or abroad? Moving so far away from family can impact massively on your wellbeing. You say that family problems drove you away, but sometimes it's our families we need in times of crisis.

    Who is supporting you Kate? X

  • Hi Kate,

    Have read your post and it seems like the plan to start counselling again is a good one. Depression can easily be misread by people as laziness but the main thing is to concentrate on yourself and starting to feel better in yourself. It sounds like you have some insight into where your problems may be originating from so working through this with the counsellor sounds like the sensible thing to do. As an "oldie" myself I do think that University life and even life in general for young people nowadays seems to be getting increasingly stressful. There is so much emphasis on attaining grades and so please don't be too hard on yourself; you are doing the best you can at the moment. The main thing is to get yourself well. I just noticed another student made their first post this evening; sometimes having things in common can help and you may be able to support each other on here. Let us know how it goes. Gemmalouise

  • I have been to university and struggle with mental health problems. At first I was scared to let anyone know due to stigma attached to this, however, I found it very difficult to cope. Because my mental health problems are long-standing it is classed as a disability. I contacted the disability department in the university and they were really helpful and explained how I was better revealing my problems as I have more rights if I have a disability contract and less likely to experience problems by members of staff thinking I was lazy when unable to do things. It also made it easier for me to get extensions when struggling with work.

  • Hi, I am back as a student again after a number of years working. I am 37 and have had depression on and off since I was a child. I moved away to study aged 18, when still suffering quite badly after my dad died when I was 17. I struggled on through 9 months and the subject was something I absolutely loved, but I needed to go home. I was living with 5 other friends but felt so alone. Don't be afraid to take a break if you need to, you can defer the studies. You said the problem is family related, is it beyond fixing? I have tried many different anti depressants but also found counselling more helpful, but I have also used online help with CBT associated websites like Moodgym, which might be something you could try as it is hard to fit in getting better when you are pushed with studies. I returned to college after a break and counselling, but I completed a 2 year course over 3 years because I still struggled. The best thing I found was to be honest and upfront about how I was, with my GP and my college. They can help you if you explain how you feel presently. You could write it down if you struggle to talk about it. I have arthritis now and get very down but my university have helped when I explain each time and gave me longer for deadlines and been supportive. It takes the pressure off if you share somehow, even on here.

  • Dear Kate:

    I hope you will take a moment to review what I have posted elsewhere on this forum; nothing personal, at all, just limited time and a desire to avoid filling this space with more copies of what I like to share. I just now posted a reply to another uni student called "Moomins" who posted "Not sure if I have depression" (linked below) here on the forum, which was mostly a copy of what I posted eight days ago to another person. Best wishes for a successful journey!

    Cheers! -- Krishna

    healthunlocked.com/actionon...

  • Hi

    I was depressed when I was a student and found the student services counselling service really supportive, also it is important to discuss with your tutor in advance of any problems, as he/she will also be supportive if you do so and will allow for depression in terms of attendance and deadlines if need be.

    Sue

  • Hello Kate

    Welcome to our merry band, all are very friendly and supportive.

    When I went to college it was really bad for bullying, and If you got behind it just got worse, I eventually bottled out and eventually learned my trade at work, that was now nearly 50 years ago. I felt the workload was to heavy and it was three examination subjects every quarter year and if you failed on exam you failed the lot, it was all sciences and Mathematics, it was a real headache, you felt you would lift the desk top if I had one and shout behind the top to rellieve the intensity of what you were learning.

    All I can say to you, if you are not happy, there is no reason to stay, try and do the courses at night or if possible become a part time student.

    You need to ask yourself, can I work at this until I am seventy, by the time you will most probably get your pension.

    Would it be better if possible to go home and do the course there, you would have the support of family and friends.

    When we move away we all need to feel comfortable in our skin, if that does not happen we do not thrive. If we are having problems at home it can be a subtle blackmail and we begin to wonder what the best way forward is, remember your life is just starting, so it seems that you need to make some big decisions. It is sad everyone has these to take especially when young you are deciding your future

    All the best

    BOB

  • Hi, I'm also a student suffering with depression with exactly the same fears of failing. My depression is also down to family problems, and I understand how hard it is to deal with this as well as your studies. I turned to one of my professors for help, and found a best friend in her. I think that telling someone at your uni, who you trust, would be really helpful. I've also felt suicidal in the past, and even turned to self harm. I would love to offer some advice on how to help you cope, but truthfully, I haven't found a solution yet. I'm still depressed, still not going to classes, etc. maybe even a break from your studies would be useful, to defer a year. I hope you find the answer, and I hope you start to feel less lonely by using this forum, people here are really friendly and supportive.

  • Hi Kate,

    First of all, sorry to hear you're suffering so much. My head is buzzing with ideas but because I'm tired I will keep it short and maybe review my response to you later.

    It sounds to me like you don't have anywhere you can call home which I know - from experience, can have a detrimental affect on our mental health, a safe base where we can go, be ourselves - feel protected, comforted, and loved, is difficult for a healthy person to go without, let alone when you're ill. And when we're vulnerable all we want to be is somewhere were we feel safe. Do you know what your living arrangements are going to be for next year? I think if you can get this resolved it will start the ball rolling of you feeling better.

    Also, do you have a firm diagnosis of depression? I say this because if you have a diagnosis you will be entitled to all kinds of extra support, which makes it fair and puts you on a more even keel with your peers. Due to some of my personal difficulties - I didn't make as many friends as I wanted in semester 1 for similar reasons to what you describe, so while most people knew they where they were living next year, I didn't. My uni has Halls for All policy so I did have the option of reapplying for that, although it's not the most comfortable and homely. However, with the support of my counsellor I am now on the priority list for staying the post graduate centre accommodation next year. This was thanks to having sufficient medical evidence to support this. So I'm wondering if it is possible if someone could help you arrange it. Have you tried looking in counselling at the uni? Also if you have a diagnosis you'll also be able to apply for more practical support which will generally reduce the stress and help put measures in place to help enable you to pass the year. You say it's a subject you love so I know it's important to you.

    I'm wondering what societies take place at your uni, obviously, due to the state of your health at the moment I can see some would not be appropriate (although you never know when you're stronger...). But I say this because they can be great for building a support network of friends. Just last night, I joined the tea society at my uni - all you have to do is drink tea and chat (if you want to be quiet that's also fine), and they were so welcoming, it was a diverse group of people, some with medical conditions, mental health problems etc and they were all really supportive. I don't know if you have a society similar at your uni, but it's definitely worth looking into. It's also about gradually placing new roots, having somewhere to make and call home. It's a slow process but it would great if you could achieve this.

    Before you consider any of this though, I really think you need to visit your doctor as it sounds as though you're going through and intense bout of depression at the moment, if it's affecting your daily functioning. Also, that's where you could get the diagnosis and the written letter for disabled student allowance. Is there any medication you would be willing to try? It might not be forever but just as a temporary measure to get you functioning better and increase your motivation. I understand you want to get through this semester, and I'm sure with a good amount of support I hope this is doable - although not without treatment. But maybe after this year you should reconsider taking a year off and going back to your studies when you feel stronger. I know home is an issue at the moment. Is there anyone you trust who you could have the option of staying with to recuperate? Grandparents perhaps? Or aunties and uncles even if they're not in your immediate family. If they know you're having issues and need somewhere to stay, they have a duty to look after you.

    I hope some of what I've said helps. I understand I don't know enough about your situation to resolve everything. Also, I didn't want to parrot what the others were saying, or could contribute with in the future, but rather give you things from a student's perspective, who has difficulties, and what has helped me to feel better.

    In the meantime, here's a (((hug))) from me :)

    Fay xxxx

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