It’s common knowledge that exams are hard. I feel like I write about this every time major exam periods are coming up. That’s really the point of them, isn’t it? To be a challenging assessment of your knowledge. However, “midterms,” which for university students are more of a time period than a series of tests, consist of a lot more.
This semester, I’ve found myself struggling. Despite all of my efforts, scheduling, and reading way past my bedtime, I’ve still managed to fall behind — and it’s not just school work. Students, contrary to popular belief, are in fact real people. We have the same things on our plates that everyone else does. Rent and food still cost the same if we want to eat healthy and live in a rodent free house with working heating. Transportation is still a hassle. Jobs must still be worked. After half of a semester of the grind, it all fell apart.
They say that January is the darkest month. They aren’t just talking about fewer hours of sunlight (though that can be a factor). Some studies have shown that people in general are saddest in January and heading to February is not a whole lot better. It’s worse for people who are already living with mental health issues. As a person living with anxiety and depression on a daily basis, it can sometimes hit a little bit harder.
Right before reading week my anxiety hit about as hard as it could. I couldn’t control it and I had a very serious panic attack at school. I ended up having to leave a class and hide down a hallway that not too many people go into.
The worst part about having anxiety isn’t actually the anxiety itself, although that can be terrible. It’s the anxiety about anxiety. After a panic attack, I get worried. I worry that people are going to think I’m crazy, that they are going to say I shouldn’t let this affect me, that they’re going to be so disappointed in my lack of progress. It’s starts a spiral that I can’t control, in which I worry about worrying and can’t think about anything else. I want to force myself to work on homework and work, to clean my house or do some laundry, but everything comes with its own set of worries that eventually overwhelm everything. Whether I like it or not, I have to stop and do nothing for a while.
What advice can I give to others who are feeling the same way? Talk about it. Even though you might not want to, tell you professors and TAs about what’s going on and they may be able to help out. Think about what your priorities are and do what you need to do to achieve those priorities. You need to eat. You need to drink water. You need to pay your rent. Sometimes classes are not the highest thing on the list.
If you find that you’re more stressed than you thought, remember that there are services on campus to help you with any number of concerns, from financial to academic to mental health. Emergency bursaries and a food bank can be available to students with financial difficulties. Academic advisors are there to help with students who are questioning if they’re in the right program or not, and personal counselling services are available for students who need someone to talk to about everything from relationships, homesickness, stress, and many other things. To make an appointment visit https://brocku.ca/personal-counselling/
For information on dropping classes, check out http://www.brockpress.com/2017/09/the-pros-and-cons-of-dropping-a-class/ . The last day to drop D3 classes without academic penalty is March 9 (that’s NEXT FRIDAY).
Your mental health is important. If you are in crisis, there are services that can help. If you need to speak with someone right away, please contact the Good 2 Talk 24 hour hotline at 1-866-925-5454, or the Niagara distress Centre at 905-688-3711 for help. If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, please call 911 right away.