Madison: “Decisions, OWL, and the Buzzfeed Article I Never Saw”

It’s so difficult to decide on something which may affect the rest of my life. So far I’ve been fiddling with the idea of majoring in anthropology, with the hope to become a forensic anthropologist. I wanted to be a doctor, but now I’m not so sure. Classes have been tough, and on myself I’ve been tougher. I’m still waiting for this “fun” that everyone kept saying I’ll have in college because, as of now, I’ve been drowning in a sea of homework; especially that chemistry 103 pre-class and OWL. Weekends have seemed like normal weekdays; little relaxation, lots of stress, and hours spent on coursework. I’m anticipating winter break when there will be a temporary, well-earned break in the cycle. After that, however, the stress starts all over again.

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I remember reading those cliché articles for incoming college students posted by popular sites: “How to Get Along with Your Roommate,” “What to Pack,” “How to Have a Good Time but Still Get Coursework Done.” Despite these posts, I failed to see an article which addressed what the transition would be like for people with mental illnesses. For about two years, I have struggled with anxiety and depression. My family and I hoped that college would be the fresh start that I needed. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. Now I get to juggle my academics with sleeping, eating, showering, and making sure I get the mental-health resources I need in order to thrive. The demands and stress caused by college hit me like a brick, and I do not know how to handle it. Mix in the lack of motivation from depression and the frequent panic from anxiety, and I’m off-balance. I can’t help but think how wonderful it would have to be prepared and know how the transition of college would impact my mental health, but hey, at least I’ve got some DIY ideas for my dorm from Buzzfeed and teen magazines.

I’m hoping that this school year gets better. I’m hoping I’ll find what it is I want to do, whether it is through an investigation of my own or through career advising services available. I’ve been going to the math and chemistry tutoring at Gordon Dining Hall and have been practically living at the chemistry 103 help desk. Those services have been helpful, and I’m thankful that I can utilize them to the best of my ability. In the future, I want to help people, and I hope that, whether through forensic anthropology or becoming a doctor, my future career will give me some sort of satisfaction by doing something right in the world. As of now, I’m hoping that I will find other people like me to spend time with (more like study with, because I’ve found zero time for any social fun). Finally, I’m hoping that my health gets better. For those who are experiencing similar situations, I hope your health gets better as well. College should be a time for learning and growth, and either can be nearly impossible when your mental health gets in the way.

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On September 20, I was one of many students who participated in the “Dear World” project. It took me a while to figure out what phrase I should write on my arm, but I feel as though what I picked can perfectly apply to this prompt. So stay safe everyone, stay positive, and as I had written across my arm;

“Stay Hopeful.”    

Mental health resources are available for students. Visit your nearest University Health Services (UHS) facility, make an appointment online, or call their office at (608)295-5600 to discuss what options may work best for you. We are here to support and assist first-year students in whatever way we can. For additional resources, feel free to email dhoffman4@wisc.edu.

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