How to Survive College with a Mental Disorder

Portrait of pensive student surrounded by books

I have Adult A.D.D. (Attention Deficit Disorder), G.A.D. (Generalized Anxiety Disorder), Depression and O.C.D. (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). You’re probably thinking “wow, this guy’s a mess!” and I agree. The thing is, once you have Adult A.D.D., it is not uncommon to develop G.A.D. and Depression as they these disorders typically feed off of each other (for more information on this topic, visit this website). However, this article is not about my story, it’s about helping you.

More information on my story can be found here.

I have tested each one of these suggestions and they were all extremely helpful for me.

Note: I have provided a link to every service mentioned.

  1. Go to the Accessible Learning Services office and speak with an advisor/case worker. This has to be the most important suggestion I can give. Many people aren’t aware of all the different services the accessible learning office can offer, even if you don’t have a disability/disorder. For example, the office can designate a note-taker for you. I was able get free text-to-speech software for personal note taking and I received training by a learning strategist who taught me about the different learning styles and how to properly study for my unique situation. They can even access government grants and funds to help (or fully) finance your needs and can provide you with additional time on your tests.
  1. Utilize the College’s Counseling Services. These services are typically free (as long as you are a current student) and have helped me a lot in my academic career. I would usually make one appointment per week, even if I didn’t need it. After nearly every appointment, I would come out feeling refreshed and quite happy. Many people don’t often realize how much stress they hold onto throughout the week and counselors have a way of asking the right questions to alleviate that stress. The brilliance of this service is that the counselor will likely ask questions that help you come up with your own solution, making you feel really happy with yourself.
  1. Pensive teenagerAccess the Free Tutoring Services. These guys really helped me out tremendously. I wasn’t the greatest at math during the start of my courses but, with just a single one- hour session, I was able to understand an entire week’s worth of confusing class material. You can usually book an appointment for one of their many tutors through the library.
  1. Find a quite, distraction-free, place to study. I would typically search for a lecture hall that wasn’t in use, plug in my laptop, turn off my wifi and hit the books … or keys. This helped keep me comfortable, calm and focused. Just make sure to keep your eye on the time every once in a while (perhaps set an alarm) for your next class.
  1. Lastly, form a relationship with your instructors. This is an important one. If an instructor can’t put a face to an accommodation plan or doesn’t even know of your struggles, then he/she will have a difficult time understanding why you may need help at certain junctures. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that the instructor will not help, accept or understand you. They just need prior notification and semi-frequent reminders of your situation. Reason being, at some point or another, there will definitely come a moment where you need help immediately. Having the instructor know you and your circumstances prior to this event will really save a lot of time and effort for both parties.

Cameron Andress– Cameron Andress
Architectural Technology ’11
Visit Cameron’s Blog to find out more and connect with him

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