I’m 17 now and should be off to university next year, but I’m so scared I don’t know if I should. I have a history of depression, really bad self-esteem, and I know I show many symptoms of OCD and anxiety, specifically GAD. The thought of going to university at this point terrifies me as I am worrying that all of my problems will get worse and worse to the point that I can’t cope anymore. In fact the only reason I think I’m dealing at the moment is because I have friends to talk to when things are getting tough, but I won’t have them when I go to uni. I just really do not know what to do at this point. I keep changing my mind between definitely not wanting to go (like now) and thinking that it wouldn’t be too bad. I admit I have spent most of my time in the not wanting to go category though. I have applied to go and got a couple of places so far, but even applying took a lot of convincing. I’m just so stuck and panicked. (age 17, from UK)Mental Health Worries and Whether to Go to University
Mental Health Worries and Whether to Go to University
I think the important thing to understand is that this decision you are grappling with doesn’t have to be a permanent one. You can proceed as if you are going to go study at a university and wait up until the last minute to decide if you really are ready, you can go and then decide you aren’t ready, or you could give it a try and find that it’s a great situation for you. There are ways to handle any decision you might make and you are putting too much pressure on yourself now to know your future. Your future can be fluid. You are always allowed to change your mind.
The other important thing to know is that you can line up support for yourself ahead of time for if and when you go to college. Most universities have wonderful student counseling centers, as well as departments set up to help with all types of disabilities, including mental health conditions.
I’m assuming that you have a therapist or psychiatrist since you are listing several mental health diagnoses. You need to be talking about your fears with your provider and develop a reasonable plan to help you with your decision. If you aren’t currently working with someone, by all means, please get help. Feeling better and developing healthy coping strategies are more pressing issues than whether or not you go to university.
All the best,
Dr. Holly Counts