Wednesday, August 10, 2011

On being a student

Anyone going through mental strife has it tough, but perhaps none more so than a student. As if getting good grades aren't enough pressure, a lot of high school and tertiary students can find themselves with stresses coming at them from all sides. Some examples I found from my own experience as a student included:
  • a desire to be a high achiever
  • wanting to be liked by those around me
  • processing big questions about God, the meaning of life
  • dealing with unexpected changes in life circumstances
  • deciding what my next steps are once I complete high school or university

    The list of pressures can be long and perplexing. Add to it mental troubles and life can be seriously difficult.

    For those who have been diagnosed with a condition such as depression, bipolar disorder or anxiety, one fear can be what others will think. While it is up to the individual as to who they want knowing about it, my experience has been overwhelmingly that other students respected me when I did happen to share with them something about my condition. The stigma surrounding mental illness is steadily being eroded and this erosion in my view is assisted by sufferers (for want of a better word) being open about their difficulties.

    Of course it helps to be wise about how much information I share and with whom. For example until I recently decided to be completely public about having bipolar disorder, I would tell people I didn't know well that I had (or was going through) "a rough patch with depression", and kept the identifying of my condition of bipolar to more trusted friends and family.

    It is important for any student to know they are not alone with their mental trouble. Most students have people in their life who are trustworthy and would love to listen and help. Of course getting professional help in the form of a counsellor or a doctor may well be necessary to address the presenting problem/s, but like I have said previously, talking things through with someone you trust is a positive way of thinking through the best course of action.

    Here is a trailer to "The Hurricane", a movie that inspires me greatly starring Denzel Washington