A letter to depressed students on “Wash U Confessions”

Rima Parikh | Contributing Writer

Thanks to a new administrator, the “Wash U Confessions” Facebook page has recently enjoyed a newfound popularity. I decided to check it out after my glassy-eyed stare and slight dribble of drool slipping from the corner of my mouth indicated that it was time to take a study break.

I expected to find the typical spectrum of college confessions, such as, “hey, person X from class Y, you’re really hot!” or even “lmao I peed in my roommate’s shampoo bottle and he has no idea!!!” Instead, the confessions I found were much more startling: almost every other submission involved students spilling their innards about their struggles with loneliness and/or depression.

Despite the smiling faces that grace the covers of our brochures and viewbooks, unhappiness certainly has an ominous presence on campus. I guess it isn’t completely surprising that this is such a common sentiment—after all, Washington University is an intensely high-pressure environment. It’s almost too easy to fall into the clutches of feeling inadequate, overwhelmed, lonely and everything in between.

But it still breaks my heart. The frustrating thing is that, even though I can read about how you’re feeling, the anonymity keeps me from being able to help you. The problem, unfortunately, still remains. While “Wash U Confessions” is a great place for purging emotions, it doesn’t actually solve the mental health issues that many students are battling. As a personal plea, I really encourage you to seek professional help.

I know, I know. You’ve probably heard this, like, 17 times. There might be reasons that you haven’t reached out. Perhaps you feel awkward or embarrassed about not being able to live up to this expectation of happiness. Or perhaps you don’t want to burden anyone with your problems. Maybe you think your problems are too trivial to even be discussed.

Don’t apologize for how you feel. You’re not weak or stupid because you’re depressed, nor are you alone. If “Wash U Confessions” is indicative of anything, it’s that you’re not the only one who feels like you’re disintegrating into pieces.

Depression makes it seem like things are hopeless—but they don’t have to be. By utilizing the resources available on and off campus, you can work toward getting yourself to a happier state. Here are a few that are worth looking into:

Uncle Joe’s: Located on the South 40, Uncle Joe’s offers peer-to-peer counseling. Walk-in hours are from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. every night, but you can also call the 24/7 help line (314-935-5099). If you’re still feeling uneasy after speaking to Uncle Joe’s, it can refer you to other resources within the St. Louis area. It’s nice talking to someone who doesn’t know you. You get the benefit of having an outsider’s perspective, and you don’t feel like you’re being judged by someone you know.

Resident Advisers: If you live in the dorms, you can also talk to your resident advisers. No, they don’t always have to be your enemy. Yes, they’re actually very lovely people who want you to feel safe and supported. If you feel like you’d actually be more comfortable talking to someone you know, as opposed to speaking with someone from Uncle Joe’s, your RA is there to help you.

Student Health Services: As the official University health center, SHS provides a variety of services for mental wellness. You can schedule a preliminary “intake” appointment with SHS, from which you can hear suggestions on the next steps that would be best for you. Some students have painted SHS’s services in a negative light, but hey—it’s worth a shot, right?

Keep a journal. Write for a few minutes every day in a journal—retrospection is seriously the best way to understand yourself and your emotions and figure out what you need to be in a better place.

Find an extracurricular that you really, really love. This will take time, and you might have to do some guessing-and-checking before you find a group that you get along well with. However, when you do find that group, the payoff is incredible—sometimes, having a group of like-minded people with whom you click can make all the difference.

Heck, just come talk to me if you need to—I know I look unfriendly, but I swear it’s only to keep campus missionaries from handing me Bibles. I won’t be able to give you professional, life-altering advice, but I will listen to you. And probably also tell you embarrassing stories about my life, if that makes you feel better—even if it’s only for a second.

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