A Unique Perspective on School, By Guest Blogger Madeleine Chill
Madeleine Chill, Manchester Community College Student
Welcome to August. If you’re anything like me, you’ve just realized you haven’t ordered your books yet and you don’t actually know the exact date your semester starts. You may also have mixed feelings about reentering the routine of school; “the grind,” as my sister calls it. You may have even been hit with a couple good punches of homework stress already.
I have a bit of a unique perspective on school. I was homeschooled my entire life, and in a very liberal, unregulated fashion. Homework, tests, and even a particularly regular schedule were foreign to me until a year ago, when, at age twenty, I enrolled in college and began my first ever semester of school.
I think I’ve learned a lot since then, academically and otherwise, and here I want to talk about the “otherwise.” I’ve dealt with anxiety and depression since I was about eleven years old. I’ve had highs and lows of all shapes and sizes. With the help of therapy, my community, and my own straight-up trial and error, I’ve developed a good understanding of how to take care of myself and my mental health. Starting school put that to the test. For me, it was a totally new environment, schedule, and set of expectations. I finished my first year with new insight into what self-care looks like during a busy semester, and a greater appreciation for its importance. As I get ready to begin my third year, here’s what I’m reminding myself:
- Give yourself time to adjust. Even if you weren’t homeschooled your entire life, transitioning between summer break and school is a big deal. This is especially true if you’re leaving home to move onto campus. Make room for this transition! I know I tend to have a hard time the first couple weeks; that’s okay. In fact, that’s completely normal. Don’t beat yourself up for it, don’t assume (like I sometimes do) that something is gravely wrong with you and you’ll never feel better. Give it some time, lean on your support system, and most likely it’ll smooth out. (If it doesn’t, of course, make sure to make an appointment with someone in the counseling office!)
- Take care of your body. This may sound a little trite, but I swear, this is the most underrated self-care tip. The mind-body link is incredibly powerful; on several occasions I’ve thought I was entering a full-on anxiety episode only to realize I was just sleep-deprived. Prioritize sleep, get some exercise and sunlight (walking counts!), stay hydrated, take your meds (if you’re on any), and make sure you’re eating regularly and incorporating fresh fruits and veggies when you can. You won’t believe the difference it makes.
- Reach out. When you’re stressed or having a hard time, it’s easy to feel like you’re being a bummer by talking about it. Having been on both ends of such conversations, I promise you that’s not the case. Let people know if you’re not doing too hot. Cry it out. Even complain; sometimes that’s all you need! If you don’t feel comfortable talking to friends or family, make an appointment at the counseling office or with a private therapist. Don’t carry it alone; you are not a bummer. You deserve to be heard and supported.
- Prioritize your mental health. This one is really the core tenet. Self-care looks different for everyone; as long as you’re making your mental health a priority and tuning into your needs, you’re on the right track. Check in with yourself every day if you can, when you wake up or when you go to bed. How do you feel? What do you want and need in order to feel well today? Yes, school is important, but your health, on every level, is even more important. Good grades can feel a bit hollow if they cost you your wellbeing. It’s a constant balance, so take a little time every day to tune in.
Hopefully these tips are helpful as you get ready to make the transition back into school. Enjoy the rest of your summer, and remember to buy those books!
If you need support now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, or, text “START” to 741–741 to get help 24/7 from the Crisis Text Line.
If you or someone you know needs help, visit the Jordan Porco Foundation’s resources page.
The opinions expressed in this blog are personal, and not those of the Jordan Porco Foundation. The information in this blog post is provided for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as mental health advice from the individual author or the Jordan Porco Foundation. You should consult a mental health professional for advice regarding your individual situation.