Depression in College: Bad Living Situations and/or Going to the Wrong School (Part II)
I want to return to the issues of studies and irksome classmates I raised earlier, but first, a reader brought up two important factors that can lead to depression: (a) going to the wrong school and (b) dealing with wacko roommates. (I wanna thank one of my readers for adding these dimensions to the present discussion about depression in college).
These two things – knowing that you’re going to the wrong school and dealing with wacko roomies – shouldn’t be taken lightly either. A few years ago, I had a friend who became deeply depressed after she moved into a dorm room with her then best friend. After a few months in college, her best friend became sullen, withdrawn, and passive aggressive.
To make matters worse, her roomie acted out in petty, cruel ways. At the time, my friend felt trapped, because of her contractual agreement with the school and had to wait it out. Things were so tough, she sought counseling, and was able to use that as a channel to relieve stress and anxiety about the situation. When you’re in a living situation that’s gone bad, and you’re either (a) stuck in some contractual deal with your university or (b) bound to a lease, those feelings of being totally out of control can become very overwhelming. I won’t even venture into the realm of “unsolicited invitations” in which you’re exposed to your roommate’s sexual indiscretions. (We’ll deal with that later).
As for me, I haven’t had a bad roommate yet (I knock on wood), but I lived in a despicable situation a few years ago. My address was at the intersection of Student Ghetto Blvd. and Sketchy/Bar Ave. I have never in my life seen so many male you-know-whats relieving themselves at all hours of the night. It was terrifying – not the male genitalia per se, but the seediness of it all. Hat’s off to y’all who like that type of neighborhood, but, as a young woman who owns a dog (and must take him out late at night), I absolutely hated it.
Although I didn’t have a tyrannical roommate, I fell into a deep depression myself, because I was locked into a lease for 12 months. I felt desperate. The apartment was loud, too. The walls were made of Kleenex, and the winter air blew over my legs while I sat (on rare occasions) on my sofa. It was so bad, that I had to find a psychiatrist who prescribed me sleeping pills. Although I hate sleeping pills (no matter how small the dosage, I always, always have a “hangover” the next day), it was the only way I could fall asleep.
The woman above me had a pit bull, and she fancied fights at 4 in the morning with her boyfriend. I also suspect that she was practicing her bowling, as she dropped bowling balls over my head the moment she blasted through her door. Oh, and the pit bull. Yes, the pit bull. As soon as she neared the place, he ran back and forth for about twenty times – he was the size of a walrus, too. With the thin ceiling, the pictures on my wall shook violently. I won’t even get into the frigging parties. That deserves its own section! (We’ll get to that, too).
So, if anyone’s curious about finding new digs in a new city for school – if you can, visit first! I made an egregious error and rented “sight-unseen.” I learned my lesson. If you can’t visit, do as much research on the city and find out where students live. Reach out to students at the university, and ask everyone about the ideal neighborhoods, etc. – trust me, you’ll be glad that you did.
Let’s say, however, you are depressed for another big reason: you’re consciously aware that you are at the wrong school. First, please allow me to express my condolences. That sucks big time. Luckily, the reader who brought this up in her comments is leaving her school and going to a larger university. Given her comments, I suspect that she’ll be much happy next year, and I wish her the best of luck. If you have a gut feeling, feel totally out of place, don’t relate to the curriculum, etc., then I advise you to change schools as soon as possible!
Now, that’s not to say that I endorse “school hopping” (I had a friend who did that. She has a checkered B.A. past, and that’s not recommended). A type of decision like that takes a lot of time. Talk to your parents (if they’re cool), your friends, or a counselor at school about your dissatisfaction. If you’re seeing a counselor already for depression, broach the subject! That’s why you see them, right? If you feel like you’ve tried, you’ve stuck it out, say a year or perhaps even two, and it isn’t jivin’ with you, then it’s time to step back and reassess your college career.
That can be depressing, too. I want to warn you. It might require taking a year off – many college counselors at Ivy League schools recommend, even encourage, students to take time off while they are pursuing their B.A.s – to determine where they’ll succeed.
Once those melancholy clouds have cleared, and you’ve made a decision, you’ll be at peace with yourself. As for those who are living with wacky roomies, well, hopefully that lease is up soon, and your freedom is just around the corner. In meantime, hang tight, have patience, and bury your head in your book – just remember, your situation is temporary.
Again, just focus on your studies, or spend time with good friends. With good grades at the end of a semester, having dealt with a bad roommate/living situation or contending with your mismatched college will only prove that you can weather a lot of things as a young adult.
But wait! Wait! What about if my roommate’s cool, but his/her partner stinks? Also, what if I’m depressed because of a failed relationship? And what about irksome classmates? Stay tuned (I haven’t forgotten)…