What to do when you get depressed at college

Loser101 asks:  You’ll be glad to know that I’m overcoming my slight body dysmorphia and I finally think I’m pretty good looking haha, and I’ve gotten into my dream university. Life’s going pretty good but I feel lonely, all my friends are drifting away, they’re busy with their own lives, and it’s kind of hard to accept. I’m learning but it’s a slow process. I’ve been doing the exact same routine of checking my socials continuously every day for the past two months, and it’s a drag honestly. I’m aware of this toxic behaviour but I can’t let it go. I want to feel wanted by people. I broke up two months ago – the guy was toxic so it was good I guess, but I miss having someone to talk to constantly. It’s hard really, I don’t know why, but I can’t focus on myself like some of my friends tell me to when I’m telling them these things. Recently I’ve started getting into prayer and meditation – they do help but I relapse at times.

Hi Loser101 –

         I don’t know where you live, but if it’s in the northern hemisphere, I’m going to tell you that you’re right on schedule.  The January/February time is known by many colleges and universities as the highest time for Depression and Isolation there.  I’m not sure why – maybe because people have just reconnected with their families, or maybe because it’s winter and harder to go outdoors, or perhaps just because it’s that time in the transition from everyone you know there being strangers into friends into people who will matter to you the rest of your life. 

         Whatever the cause, what you’re experiencing could not be more normal.  The alienation, the questioning.  Especially, ESPECIALLY, because you broke up with that guy two months ago.  I’m sure you’ll be better off in the long run, but for right now, you’re remembering how nice it was to have a boyfriend!

         So I have two recommendations.  First is to accept that this is just a transitional time, and to make some plans over the next couple of months to get away when you can.  Do you have someone you’re friendly enough with to take a day-trip on a weekend to visit somewhere nearby?  Or maybe you have some family you could visit for a day or two?  Just get through this time – things WILL get better, and likely that’ll happen when the weather improves and everyone around you develops better moods!

         But second, spending all that time on social media, while it does help you feel less alone, just keeps you more connected with your “outside” life, and less with the people you’re near right now.  Can you spend part of that time getting together with some of these new people and doing something fun?  Seeing a movie, grabbing a meal, or just complaining about how damned depressing everything is?!

         We dogs don’t really experience what you’re living.  For me, the most depressing times I’ve ever known have been when I’ve been locked up in a pound, a kennel, or a veterinarian’s office.  And all those times I’ve been literally  kept away from everyone and everything I know.  Other dogs experience being given away by their families, and maybe that’s closer to what you’re going through – even though you’re where you are as a choice!

         What we dogs are great at is what you’re not doing right now – exploring our world, finding ways to socialize, ways to make life interesting.  I’m guessing you’ll have no trouble doing just that, around March. 

         But for now, just do your best.  Get through this time, and see if you can make some good experiences.  Before you know it, everything will likely change and your current blah world will become your favorite place.

         All my best,


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