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Tips And Insights For Living With Mental Illness At Barnumbia

As finals week begins and the overwhelming stress that looms over our campus grows, it’s important to remember that students who struggle with mental health issues are everpresent members of the larger Barnumbia community. 

And, that finals season is but another piece of pressure added onto the complex layers of mental health that we struggle with year-round. From our house to yours, here are some neurodiverse Bwoggers’ tips and insights for getting through life as a Barnumbia student.

Gentle General Reminders:

  • Eat something! Try and get some protein and fruits and vegetables if you can
  • Drink some water and keep hydrated
  • Take your medication
  • Get some rest
  • Take a shower, wash your face, brush your teeth
  • Get out of bed (if you can)
  • Change your clothes
  • Make your bed and change your sheets
  • Talk to your friends, therapist, psychiatrist, professors, parents, anyone11
  • Put your chin back and fix your posture
  • Breathe
  • Go one step at a time

Dealing with College and Academia:

  • SLEEP.
    • I really can not stress this enough! That all-nighter, 3-5 hours of sleep, cram-induced head of yours will not prevail during finals
  • Make your study materials ahead of time
  • Budget your whole schedule around getting 8+ hours of sleep
  • Skip a reading or something small if you just can’t do it
  • Take classes that you know you’ll actually like doing the work for (if you can)
  • After a final, take a long break and do whatever it is you feel good doing
  • Plan the week out, set aside time to eat and sleep, set reminders if it’s hard to do it
  • Plan for the break!
    • I personally get anxious about going home because of the fear of being alone and missing my college friends. Brainstorm ideas for hometown activities, come up with a plan to bang out those internship apps, and hit up that old summer job, so you have enough to do over the Barnumbia hiatus.
  • Have something to look forward to!
    • Whether its a club meeting, seeing your dog over break, or a good book waiting for you in the package center, it’s so helpful to have a light at the end of the tunnel. I started a book club this semester with my friends where we eat snacks, read short stories and hang out and it’s my favorite thing I’ve created at Columbia. I also have a D&D group with some friends that absolutely gives me life. It takes some work, but you can build these spaces and communities for yourself.
  • If you’re having trouble with studying, try the 40/20 method! Study for 40 minutes, break for 20. Try doing something off your phone for your break (e.g. get a snack, write, draw, make). Remember to walk around once in a while; sometimes when I’m upset, stressed, tired, etc., my body wants to fly away, so take a walk around the library/study space you’re at, get some fresh air, and let your body move!
  • Or try the Pomodoro method! Study for 25 minutes, take a 5-minute break, and after 4 of these sprints, take a 30-minute break, then start again (if you still have work to do)
  • Tell yourself it’s okay to struggle and grades do not mean everything, EVEN if you are going to grad school. You’ll get to where you need to go regardless of finals.

What’s On-Campus:

  • Group therapy
    • I know people have negative experiences with CPS and that’s a real, pressing issue but the Getting Things Done group that I joined through CPS my freshman year helped me deal with my unmedicated ADHD, adjust to college, and generally understand myself better. I wouldn’t have passed without it and I honestly probably would still be suffering in a major I hated.
  • Utilize the counseling centers, even if for one appointment, a recommendation, or if you just need to rant and let it all out
  • Use the Biofeedback and Relaxation Suite at Furman
    • They have a massage chair, weighted blankets, and a zen garden, as well as a computer program that tracks your heart rate and essentially guides you through exercises to help lower it
    • Does require a 30-minute training session to get in
    • More information on Furman services (biofeedback information is on the bottom!)
  • Go study or relax in one of the campus’ many quiet spaces
  • Go to Furman listening hours in Plimpton or Elliott
  • Go to CPS drop-in hours (information on the bottom!)
    • They also have drop-in hours for specialized issues like problem-solving and sexual and gender identity,
  • Find a space on campus that none of your friends know about, and chill there. Designate it as no work, no social media zone, and visit it when you feel like life is getting chaotic.
    • It could be a back row of the stacks, a faraway cafe, a street in a different neighborhood, an empty classroom, basically anywhere you know you won’t run into a single person you know, preferably not a single person you even recognize. New York often feels overwhelming, and for me, having ownership over a small little corner of it is incredibly grounding.
  • Sit on the Low Steps, stare at Butler and people watch
  • Get a coffee to stay at Joe in Journalism, stare at campus.
  • Get a smoothie from Diana at late-night! You’ll feel better knowing you put some kind of fruit and/or vegetable in your body
  • Check out Well-Woman at Barnard and get some chocolate, tea, and someone to talk to

Getting Off Of Campus:

  • Walk down Broadway! It’s free and there is literally so much happening all the time. You can take your mind off your troubles and just people watch!
  • If financially possible, eat some non-dining hall food
    • Black and white cookies from Wu and Nussbaum have turned my day around
  • Go to a park! Play your favorite music or audiobook and sit on a bench. Smile at passerby (lots of babies in strollers!) and ask to pet dogs. Run or skip if you feel up to it!
  • Check out one of the many quiet spaces off campus
  • Go to a museum! New York has so many incredible ones, and they’re really nice to explore either alone or with friends
  • Take the subway to Columbus Circle, walk around the shops.
  • Go to Trader Joes and get some (less-expensive) groceries and snacks
    • If you’re buying produce, get what’s in season! It’ll taste better and fresher
  • Explore Sakura Park in Morningside Heights
  • Walk down by the Hudson
  • Go literally anywhere in Brooklyn, but wandering around Greenpoint and Williamsburg is particularly fun, as is doing some work at Bushwick Public House (they have great paninis)

Self Care Inside Your Dorm:

  • Watch animal videos on youtube
  • Call your grandparents
  • Cry if you want to
  • Listen to some podcasts, whether you like the true-crime variety, comedy, opinion, the documentary-type, or politics!
  • Watch some bad movies while curled up on your bed
  • Text your friends, family, or whoever you want. Making conversation, even if it’s not in person, can make you feel so much better

Things to Remember:

  • Stop internalizing
    • Sometimes we can spiral because we think our problems “burden” those we love. The people that are closest to you want you to share what’s going on with them; You’re not a burden, and you may even be misinterpreting the other person’s actions.
  • Stop externalizing
    • Some of us also tend to over-share and accidentally spring their stress onto other people. In an effort to fill the empty/quiet/“awkward” space, we feel like we have to say everything that comes to mind. Breathe. You are wanted. You are loved. Spend your time talking about what matters most to you; It’s okay to have a little awkward silence once in a while
  • Procrastinating only makes you feel worse in the long run. Sit down and get it done
  • “Maybe the reason you don’t do your work is because you don’t want to”
    • Someone told this to me in my freshman year when I was struggling and it’s really been a guiding philosophy in my academic career as someone who struggles with ADHD and anxiety (especially the former). It’s so much easier to force myself to get started on a project if it’s about something I love (like monsters or science fiction or books) than something I absolutely despise. Not everyone has the luxury to study what they want without backlash from parents/loved ones, but choosing to major in my passion rather than what I thought would make me money has made my time at Columbia so joyous.
  • “You are not a burden.”
    • Five words I think everyone should hear at some point in their life. I heard this in high school while crying in the bathroom at summer camp because I had no friends. It was one of the most genuine moments of kindness and human connection I’ve experienced in my short life and I want to share that with you all as well
  • Your friends love you and are not mad at you for tapping out for a little bit
  • In the end, what happens happens, and this is only one very small part of your life. It will all be okay

pretty trees via Bwog Archives

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  • Tina Moran says:

    @Tina Moran There is no doubt the importance of getting involved yourself in any organization to support and protect people how are living with anxiety or any mental illnesses. These issues are alarming to all of us. All we have to do is to support them in time that they need our help.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous barnumbia is a beautiful name and i use it every day

    1. I didn't know. says:

      @I didn't know. “Anonymous” is a synonym for asshole? Who knew?

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Please stop using barnumbia. It is not a word that anyone on campus uses.

  • Barnumbia? Feh! says:

    @Barnumbia? Feh! Please give it up on that name. It really is silly.

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