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August 29, 2014 - Welcome Guest!

Advice » Mental Health

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Why can't I be happy?

Question:

I am a 19 year-old sophomore in a good university in NY State. I keep getting told that I was very lucky to be accepted into the communications school here, but I'm just feeling really bummed about being here, and I have felt this way since the beginning of my freshman year. I haven't been able to stand it being here, and the only reason I've stayed is because it has such a great reputation.

It's the fact that I miss my old life. I was happy then. I miss my home, my friends, my family, my boyfriend, my happiness. I used to believe that as long as I get out of here and back home, or even just out of here, often it's okay. But it's a matter of doing well that's kind of important too, and I'm just drowning. So many people tell me to just leave. But I don't know if I can do that. I like things about Syracuse. I love being on AWT, the TV show that I'm on here. I love rooming with Maria, my best friend up here. And I have pride in Syracuse, you know, like, if I see them on TV playing a game I can be like, "hey, I go there, ain't we great?"

But I'm starting to feel overwhelmed by everything. I'm just not much of a worker anymore. My grades are slipping... for the first time in my life they're going to slip beneath a 3.0, and I can't even find the ambition to do my work to try and bring them up. I've never been like that. I can't ever get my homework done. I wonder if I ever should have come to college. I feel like I'm staying here for all of the wrong reasons.

But I don't want to leave, because I feel like I'll really let my family down. And I know, my decision shouldn't ride on them. And it doesn't completely ride on them. I think if I leave I'll see myself as a failure too. And I can't really see myself fitting in anywhere else, I mean, I've gotten used to THIS campus, THIS school... I feel like going anywhere else would make me feel really awkward. And quitting school altogether... I don't know what I'd do. I want to take a music production class... I want to learn about laying down tracks and stuff... that really interests me. And I like editing stuff too. And I know that this is the school to take those classes in. But who knows if I'll even make it long enough to take them. Especially if I'm not even sure if I want to take them.

I hardly ever sleep on a normal schedule. I pretty much get 5 hours of sleep a night. And I go through phases in my eating. When I first got back up to school a few months ago, I really couldn't eat anything for a good week. Then I went through an 'eat everything' phase, and now I'm trying to get myself to eat well again. But it's so hard when I don't want to eat at all, I just want to leave, I want to drive my car, I want to be home, I want to be with my boyfriend, my family, my friends.

But I think what I want most right now is to know what to do so I won't fail. I want a good future so I won't fail my future family or children, but I don't want to fail out of college either. I want a good future, but I don't want to suffer this much in my present in order to attain it. I'm just so unhappy, I've never been like this in my life. I feel like I'm mean to so many people now, whereas people used to know me as being sweet and wonderful. But I just don't feel like I have the energy to be tolerant anymore. I want to be accepted, but yet I can't accept hardly anyone. I just don't know what to do.

God, I don't even know if I can be specific. What can I do? Is there anything you'd recommend for me? I just want to be happy again, and no matter what choice I take I feel like I'll be failing myself, either in my studies or in my happiness, or both. My mother mentioned that she used to have to take a low-dose anti-depressant, so do you think it's hereditary? I just don't know what to do.

Joon, 19-year-old woman

Answer:

The stress of college and being away from home may very well have set off a chemical problem; and a low dose of an antidepressant may very well help as would some counseling sessions, which I'm sure are available at the college. I'd particularly recommend a group counseling situation since I'm sure you are one of many students who are feeling overwhelmed and homesick.

This brings us to the entire issue of homesickness and college. Usually, when people feel homesick it because they are worried about what is happening at home. For example, "Is my boyfriend dating other girls? Are my parents getting along without me to help?" If you have those kinds of worries, they need to be articulated first in counseling and then probably at home.

Finally, remember that the best of colleges may not be the best for a particular person. For example, some people are overwhelmed by bigness while others need to feel the anonymity of a huge campus. There are many fine schools to learn the skills you mention; there may well be another one which meets your needs better. Sit down with your high school guidance counselor when you come home for a visit to consider transferring and which other colleges might make better sense for you personally. Remember that each college creates its own sense of specialness. On your campus, there is a great sense of the wonderfulness of that college. On another campus you would find an equal sense of being part of something and being proud to be there.

Sincerely, Ken Weene

This question was answered by Kenneth A. Weene. Ken Weene is a graduate of The Institute For Advance Psychological Studies at Adelphi University is a licensed psychologist practicing on Long Island, New York. His orientation is holistic and eclectic. In addition to a variety of contributions to the professional literature, Dr. Weene has published a number of poems. Before entering private practice, he directed Children, Adolescent, and Family Services for The Counseling Service of The Long Island Council of Churches. Ken's central belief is that life is a gift to be experienced, enjoyed, and celebrated. He knows that this is sometimes difficult in the face of physical, emotional, and other forms of distress and sees his goal as helping people to find their inner peace and joy in the face of stress and anguish.

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