- Aaron Fung
My Experience with Depression and Anxiety As An Undergraduate Student
I was diagnosed with depression in sophomore year of high school, which came to me as no surprise at the time. In one way or another, I was relieved to have a proper medical explanation behind why I continuously felt the way I did. The following year, I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder. Entering university seemed like an utterly impossible task then, especially with my inability to attend school continuously, or my inconsistency in maintaining friendships and social connections. I am very grateful to be an undergraduate student today.
Environment is one of the most important factors for mental health. Personally, it has significantly helped to surround myself with the right people and groups; people who will push you to improve and become better, people who will genuinely support your intentions and endeavors. One of the biggest changes I made entering university was the environment I surrounded myself with. Putting out positive energy does not necessarily mean you will always get positive energy back. Looking back, my environment in secondary school certainly played a major role in worsening my mental health. My morals and values did not align with the people around me, and that consistently left me in a state of confusion. Making steps to improve, I found it truly beneficial to take a step back and evaluate which friendships had genuine and positive impacts, and which ones became mentally draining to maintain.
Growing comfortable with being alone also played a role in properly confronting my anxious thoughts and moments. I realized I heavily relied on having company and not being alone in doing something, and when I felt alone, that is when I would become more anxious. I am not saying one must become this superhuman that does not ever need to rely on anybody. But I am saying that I started recognizing that being alone is somewhat of a skill that one can work towards and grow comfortable with. I realized that it is not healthy to be so reactive and become extremely anxious the moment I feel lonely or the moment the thought of being alone crosses my mind.
Finally, being my authentic self is the one thing that has undoubtedly improved my mental health to the greatest extent. Entering university, I realized that nearly all my anxious thoughts came from self-judgment and the fear of being judged by others. Taking small steps to embrace who you are, your humor, interests, and traits, can help so much in growing comfortable with who you are and your mental health. To end this post, I want to make it known that I have NOT figured everything out. I still have a long way to go, and I believe that everyone can always work towards being better and improving. The things I wrote are just a few note-worthy steps that have truly helped me with my mental health while transitioning into university. Seeking help from health professionals, getting proper treatment, acknowledging your situation, and validating how you feel and your thoughts, are all great ways with managing mental health. To anyone who may be going through something similar, remember to work at your own pace, and to celebrate your victories and accomplishments :)