My Mental Breakdown Caused By College

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I’m the type of person who can handle a lot of stress in my life as long as I am the one who imposes that stress. As soon as anyone pressures me in any aspect of my life, I can’t handle things. I break down. I don’t think. I can’t do anything but sit there.

I live in a high-stress environment. I work thirty hours a week at three different jobs. I spend a couple hours a week volunteering for and playing roller derby. My three majors, journalism, Spanish and comparative literature, take up the rest of my time when I’m not writing for College Magazine or doing layout design at my two internships. Add onto that a thesis to write and relationships to maintain, all while trying not to break down.

It feels like trying to stay afloat at sea while every stressor in my life weighs me down. When too many things pile up, I lose strength and just start to drown. Sometimes “just keep swimming” is harder than it sounds.

This week it just wasn’t possible.

While on the phone with my mother I couldn’t begin to express the stress I felt. At this point in my life, when finding a journalism job seems nearly impossible, I can’t see the point of writing my thesis. It’s the only requirement holding me back from finishing my degree with honors, and it would take me another semester of school just to do so.

When it comes down to two resumes, one “with honors” on it and the other without, the employer will still want to see writing samples. Why stress myself out for something that probably won’t mean anything and forces me to stay another semester at school?

At this point I couldn’t function. My advisor kept pushing me to write my thesis and just that little bit of pressure was enough to make me lose control of other aspects of my life. All determination to go to class, write and finish necessary work disappeared as the pressure coiled around my lungs and suffocated me.

With an apathetic heart I shut down. I left my apartment and didn’t go back. For the next 24 hours I stayed in my friend’s apartment, drank hard liquor and watched television. That day I stepped down from Amanda Dash, workaholic extraordinaire, in exchange for a stress-free day. I completely shut myself out from the other side of my life.

There were no articles due, no classes to attend and no responsibilities other than my own happiness. As much as I mastered my destiny that day, I couldn’t help but acknowledge the façade. When I returned I would have to atone for missed classes, turn in my article and edits late, explain my whereabouts to my boyfriend and ultimately face the facts of my situation.

So I returned home today. I finished my article edits and instead of writing my originally planned article, I wrote this. In some cases, it turns out apathy leads to inspiration. I still feel incredibly stressed, but taking the day off gave me a little more drive to keep going. I hated that I wasted time and that I had so much work to make up for, but I couldn’t help but feel that I made the right choice in taking a personal day.

I know stress will return, and I still haven’t decided what to do about my thesis. But I feel that sometimes I need that mental breakdown so I can look at what I need to do and change in my life.

My way of dealing with things may differ from others. You may want to meditate in a forest and I will still probably run away from my problems until eventually returning to face them all over again. It’s my own way of dealing with the pressure and stresses provided by college and life. I just hope that I’ve learned to reflect rather than avoid.


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