College is not the most accommodating place for people with depression.
Depression means a lot of different things, and every individual affected by it has varying experiences, particularly academically and socially. A few Colorado State University students who experience depression provided insight into how their lives differ from students without it.
“To me, it’s a general feeling of sadness, I guess,” said Adam Giroux, a senior studying clinical counseling psychology who is diagnosed with depression. “It’s really an inability to do things like you have the desire to do stuff, but there’s this thing keeping you from doing it.”
According to Simone Ingram, who is diagnosed with both a major depressive disorder and an anxiety disorder, depression can be a physical feeling as well.
“I literally feel heavy all over; my body feels like a rock,” said the fifth year senior studying art with a concentration in sculptures.
Rose Kreston, director of the Resources for Disabled Students office, said this is a topic many people do not want to talk about and generally do not fully comprehend.
“It’s not tangible,” Kreston said. “They can’t see it so people don’t understand. But like all kinds of disabilities, depression is part of the human condition. Anyone can get depression at any time.”
According to Ingram, depression can be set in at any time and can be triggered at any given moment.
“It was my freshman year of college when I noticed it,” Ingram said. “I had two friends commit suicide in my dorm that year, and I think that’s when it hit me. I realized I had been really depressed this whole time and just didn’t know how to handle it.”
Kreston said the way the college system is set up creates a difficult path for individuals with depression. There is also the social aspect of college. According to Kreston, it can be difficult for students with depression to participate in activities like going parties and bars.
In college, there are early morning classes and hard deadlines. And according to Giroux, the pressure of completing a lot of tasks at one time can be overwhelming. He said it’s easy to feel as if you are falling further and further behind.
“We don’t necessarily have a system that accommodates to that kind of unpredictability,” Kreston said. “How can you predict when you’re going to be depressed? How can you predict when you can’t get to school?”
There are ways to work around this, however. The Resources for Disabled Students office offers support through academics by facilitating extensions, setting up times to take tests outside of class and serving as advocates.
There is medication to treat depression.
“I look at medication the same way as my wheelchair; if I don’t have it, I don’t go anywhere,” Kreston said.
But that’s not to say those affected by depression necessarily enjoy the treatment.
“I’ve tried medication, and didn’t like it,” Ingram said. “It made me feel flat, and I’d rather feel depression than nothing.”
In addition to the Resources for Disabled Students office, the CSU Health Network offers service as well, including five free counseling sessions a semester.
“My therapist at CSU was the one who actually diagnosed my anxiety disorder,” Ingram said.
For people wishing to be allies to those with depression, it’s fairly simple: give as much support as possible.
“Take the time to really listen to the people in your life that are experiencing it, and try to understand it,” Giroux said. “…I think (it’s) listening with the intent to try and understand.”
According to Giroux, one of the biggest things people can do is acknowledge it as a valid health concern.
“It’s really real; I’m not crazy,” Giroux said. “I’m not doing it for attention. This is legitimately how I feel.”
More about Recourses for Disabled Students:
- Website- rds.colostate.edu
- Phone- (970) 491-6385
- Location- 100 General Services Building
Collegian reporter Maddie Wright can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @maddierwright.