As someone with depression and anxiety, I have mastered the art of going unseen on campus. Here are a few tips to surviving school life while managing your mental illnesses*:
-Bring sunglasses with you and wear them wherever you go. It helps if they have super mirrored lenses so people can’t see your eyes. It gives me a sense of security to know that I don’t have to make eye contact with anyone.
-Arrive early to class. I commute, so I always make sure that I leave extra early so I get to class early. No walking into a crowded room when everyone’s already there. No interrupting the lecture. No searching for a seat.
-Take your time leaving. I always allow people to move ahead of me before I start to pack up my belongings. I use a lot of things in class (different colored pens, highlighters, water bottles, etc) and they all go in specific areas of my bag. I need to keep organized so I don’t fumble around and it’s embarrassing to get in someone’s way, so I just let others do their thing first and then pack up and go.
-Bring a lunch. I bring my lunch so that I can eat wherever I want, usually in a secluded area. I don’t have to go to a crowded cafeteria or anything. If I need a snack or drink throughout the day, I just go to the bookstore or if I REALLY need it, Starbucks.
-Get familiar with campus. I avoid crowded areas like the plague, so knowing when my favorite spots fill up is absolutely necessary.
-Do as much work on campus as possible. The thing that saves me is doing my work between classes. Since I commute and have a job, that eats up a lot of time. However, by staying on campus later or going earlier on the days that I’m there, I know that I’ll get the work done and won’t be distracted by Netflix or tumblr. I use the school computers to ensure that doesn’t happen.
-Bring headphones and listen to music that helps you focus. Campus can get pretty loud, so I need to use my headphones to drown people out (unfortunately, yes, even in the library).
-USE YOUR FREE PRINTS. My school gives us something like 250 pages or something a semester and it literally saves me. I don’t print anything at home. I print out articles, power points, papers, whatever it is, I print it. Bonus, you don’t have to worry about running out of ink or paper or your printer crashing.
-Double check your bag for all your materials BEFORE you leave your house. I forgot my id one day when I had a paper due and had to ask a classmate to borrow his so I could print! So horrifying and I absolutely never want to feel like that again!
-Drink a lot of water. I tend to lean more towards Gatorade, but water is better for you. It gives you energy and makes you feel better. Also, bring a snack and eat it.
-Know where the bathrooms are! I get anxiety when I have to get up during class to use the restroom. I hate doing it so I always try to go before or after lecture, especially because I like to sit in the back.
-Sit where you feel most comfortable. A lot of studyblrs tell you it’s better to sit in the front, but to be honest, it’s all about personal preference. I feel more comfortable towards the back, where I can spread out and no one is behind me and the professor doesn’t look at me too much. Find where you learn best and stick to that area.
-Wear clothes that make you feel good. You don’t always have to look amazing. Wear clothes that you feel comfortable in, that you can concentrate in and that won’t make you feel like people are staring at you.
*Disclaimer: these are things that have helped me, I don’t speak for everyone with a mental illness. Add your own if you have a good tip!