Don’t Stress Out, There’s Help
College is stressful, especially when you move miles away from home. Class assignments pile up, maybe your employer is pushing you to work more hours, midterms are coming up, and don’t even think about getting sick.
Personally, I’m not ashamed to admit that college started to get the better of me roughly a year ago this week. Between all my work, my assignments and projects, plus my personal life, I was starting to get really stressed, which caused panic attacks. Luckily for me, a friend told me about the counselors we have on campus at the University Health Clinic.
At first, I blew off the idea of going to a counselor, even though counseling services are covered in our tuition and fees. I couldn’t help but think about the stereotypical image of laying on a couch with some stuffy old guy saying, “How does this make you feel?” with a funny accent.
Talking to my counselor was more like a conversation with a close friend who always gives the best advice and outlook on the situation.After about a week, I finally decided to give it a shot, and I got an appointment with Kristie, one of our counselors at ASU. When I went in, I told her my friend sent me to her specifically, and she had to ask a lot of routine questions, like “do you or your family have a history of…” kind of things. After we got that out of the way, all she said was, “So what brings you in? What do you want to talk about?”
From there, we started talking about things that were bothering me, and I realized that seeing a counselor wasn’t anything like the stereotype. Talking to my counselor was more like a conversation with a close friend who always gives the best advice and a new outlook on the situation. Sometimes, our conversations are so scatter-brained, neither of us can keep track of the original topic, but I always walk out of her office feeling better about whatever was on my mind.
Fast forward a year later, and I feel like I’ve made a complete turnaround from where I was. I’ve urged friends to go see someone, and they’re doing much better as well. I think the biggest issue is people not knowing that we have this service available. You already pay for it, so why not give it a chance?
Counseling tends to have a bad reputation, like you belong in a straightjacket if you regularly go to a counselor. But try not to think about it like that.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness reports that one in five people will be diagnosed with a mental illness of some sort in their life, and three quarters of them will be diagnosed before age 24.
I would hate to think of what could have happened had I not gone to a counselor and seen what it did for me. It’s a great services offered at many universities, and it certainly can’t hurt to give it a chance.