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Dealing with Depression During the College Years

By: Guest Blogger

I walked off of the graduation stage believing that all my anxiety, depression, lack of happiness and the negative feelings I had experienced through grad school were going to disappear immediately.

Little did I know… reality was about to hit.

I have always been both a straight-A student and a planner. During my four years of college, I made sure I graduated before all my classmates. I did it with honors, a dissertation, and an award.

To do that, I had unhealthy habits. Yet, I thought it was fine. That I could do it all.

So, when I decided to move from Mexico to the U.S. to pursue a Masters’ Degree, it was no surprise. What I did not know, was the amount of emotional labor that came with attending grad school in a different country. Not only was I dealing with being away from my family and my local church, I was now all of my classwork in a foreign language.

I served in housing overseeing a building of 600 first-year students and dealt with drugs, alcohol, sexual misconduct, and even bees in an elevator (but let’s leave that one for another time) daily.

I spent the past two years feeling a need to be perfect.

Failure or weakness was embarrassing to me. I struggled with depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideations the whole time; yet, no one knew about my struggles.

In my social media, there are no clues to those hard times.

What is in there are photos of my trips around the world and my nice outfits. Lies and lies. On top of that, I isolated myself from everyone because they did not understand me. And how could they if I was portraying something different?

Have you ever felt that way?

I was so focused on myself that I forgot to live under any truth. I blamed my graduate program and the circumstances around me for my unhappiness. So, when graduation was approaching, I thought I was finally going to be happy. I was wrong. Graduating without a job or not knowing where I wanted to continue my career took all my mind once I finally walked that stage.

Up until this moment, I do not think that I got to rejoice for earning a Masters’ Degree. All I could think of was how miserable I was and how my life had no purpose. I spent days crying, not eating and dealing with constant panic attacks. Still, social media portrayed a successful woman with perfect hair and makeup, and a big smile.

Realizing that graduate school was not the root of my struggles was hard.

I needed someone or something to blame. I knew that my heart had been away from God and his commands, and I did not want to admit it. It was scary to think of the consequences of my time away that I would rather continue living in a lie.

Yet, on one of those nights crying, I let my heart listen to his words. I went to my drawer and opened the Bible. That night, I felt peace. It would be more lies to say that after that night I did not deal with depression or anxiety anymore. Yet, with time, I have learned five improtant lessons.

5 Lessons I learned During Grad School 

1. Circumstances are important; yet, they should not define our reactions. Our heart is deceitful (Jeremiah 29:7). When we let our hearts decide how we live our lives, we often feel isolated and unsatisfied. Nothing will completely satisfy us but God. Everything else will pass.

2. We live in an era where it is easy to portrait perfection. Yet, how much of that is true? Proverbs 31:30A reminds us that Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain… Yes, all of what we see in social media and around us will disappear because it is not centered on what is eternal.

3. When you feel incapable and unworthy, ask God for his strength. Depression and anxiety are real. And, God has provided us with specialists, biblical councelors, and friends who can be there for us during those times. It is okay to ask for help. It is within our weaknesses that God’s power is bigger.

4. I am not perfect, nor I will ever be (until I’m perfected in Heaven). And no one is asking me to be.

5. Finally, it is important to hear, speak and live in truth. Even when you do not want to, read your bible, attend your church, talk to your friends about your struggles. Do not isolate yourself.

A few things to think about:

  • What are the things that you are valuing more than God’s truth?
  • What is the lie you are believing about your worth or who you are?
  • Where is your heart and what are you prioritizing?

GUEST BLOG: My name is Génesis and I am originally from Mexico. I just graduated with a Masters’ Degree in the U.S. I have learned tons from your posts in the blog for the past year and I have loved it. As God is transforming my heart, I figured that it could be good to share about it. While English is not my first language, I decided to give it a try! 🙂 


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28 Responses to Dealing with Depression During the College Years

  1. Hope Hemsley says:

    What an encouraging story, thank you so much Genesis!! Even though I’m in high school, I deal a lot with perfectionism and wanting to make it appear as if my life is flawless. Sometimes I believe that when I finally go to college, my worries will disappear. But that’s definitely not true at all – there will be tough problems in every season. The important thing is to realize that none of us are perfect, we all have secret problems on the inside, but with the help of Jesus, his word, and our friends we can conquer them and move into all that God has for us. Thank you again! <3

  2. Josie Nyounai says:

    Thank you so much for sharing these lessons with us, Genesis! I can definitely relate to that feeling of wanting to display a perfect persona, and the lessons you shared have helped me refocus on the truth of God’s Word. Què Dios te bendiga!

  3. Abigail Snow says:

    I just started my grad program! This is a super helpful reminder. Thanks for pointing me back to the truth!

  4. Rachel Taylor says:

    Thank you for reminding me that perfection is an impossible pursuit in this life, that its okay to admit I am weak and ask for help. You did an amazing job on this essay. God bless you!

  5. Clarissa says:

    Thanks for sharing!! I have been dealing with some health issues for the past several years and many of my doctors have suggested a diagnosis of anxiety, yet as a believer I know that my mental and emotional health is secure in Christ as my Saviour. Do any of you have recommendations for how to deal with this when the medical community tries to say that your physical problems are not caused by mental problems, rather than trying to logically investigate this as a medical issue?

    • Clarissa says:

      *when they try to say that your physical problems ARE caused by mental problems

      • Kristy Bryson Loneske says:

        I have had similar issues. Of course, I am no doctor, nor do I know any of your struggles. However, I was extremely sick, where I would be wiped out for days. Often times I felt uneasy/ nervous about unnecessary little things. Doctors wanted me on some anti-depressant or other lifelong medications. God has been showing me to trust in Him lately. We zeroed the issues down to dietary issues and vitamin deficiencies. I know a lot of people are skeptical about anti-inflammatory diets, but I was hopeless. I believe God provided it as a way out for me. Maybe you would want to check it out? ~Savannah

    • Allison says:

      Anxiety is a medical issue, as are all other mental illnesses. The brain is a physical organ and can become sick. It can be a symptom of or caused by other medical issues, and a diagnosis and treatment of such a symptom is often a first step in “logically investigating”. Untreated anxiety disorders can also lead to worsening symptoms and increased risk of developing other physical and mental illnesses- mental issues can absolutely cause or exacerbate physical issues.

      Why would you entrust your physical health to a highly educated medical professional, but not your mental health, especially when the two are so closely intertwined? I am a believer as well, and have had serious mental health issues that were successfully diagnosed and treated by medical professionals through medication (which does not have to be taken permanently- I am no longer medicated) and therapy. Am I less a believer, or is Christ less my savior, because I sought and received diagnosis and treatment? God created those doctors just as he did you and I, and placed them where they are to help us. There is no guarantee that a Christian will never become sick, and no provision against seeking medical treatment for mental health issues. If “many” of your doctors have suggested an anxiety disorder, it is in your best interest to listen to them. Treatment may not even require medication, especially if you are strongly opposed- cognitive behavioral therapy is offered by many Christian therapists and has been shown to be highly effective in treating anxiety and a number of other disorders.

      It is our responsibility as Christians to maintain our bodies and minds in a way that honors God. Listening to a doctor and seeking treatment for a health issue in no way dishonors him, though one could argue that willfully discounting the advice of numerous professionals, whose talents are gifts from God, does. If, as I suspect it is, your justification for this is 2 Timothy 1:7 then I encourage you to examine exegetical commentaries of the verse, which generally qualify the Greek word often translated as “sound mind” as something nearer to “sobriety”, “prudence”, or “discretion”.

      I hope I haven’t come off as too judgemental or harsh, but I too once believed the “prosperity gospel” of mental health, in which if we simply pray and have faith, our minds and emotions will work as they should. I suffered greatly for it, and people I love suffered even more because they were either denied access to or refused to seek treatment for the same reason you cite; that a believer’s mental health is entirely in the hands of Christ. This is no more biblical than refusing to see a doctor when you have strep throat or a strange mole. We are to trust God, but part of trusting God is utilizing the resources he has given us to take care of ourselves.

  6. Dave Smith says:

    Interesting post. What’s your masters in?

  7. Beth says:

    Thank you for this! My journey with chronic illness has led to struggles like you talk about, and your encouragement and courage in speaking about how God has led you along this road is a great help!

  8. Shay says:

    Which masters’ degree?

  9. Alyssa says:

    No offence to you all, but this post seems completely fake to me. I have no idea who “Génesis” is, but coincidentally she has the exact same writing style as you guys?? This post was also extremely vague, and not once were any of her personal experiences alluded to, nor did she even tell us which program she majored in (something a lot of grad students would take pride in). Also since “Génesis” is from Mexico, Spanish should be her native language. Even if her English is very advanced, there are often little quirks and differences in the way that non-native speakers write and speak a language that natives can easily pick up on. Also in my experience, students in grad school tend to be very serious about their studies. They have to work much harder than undergrad students, often juggling a job on the side, and therefore have very little time to go out and party. I have no clue what you two hoped to gain by impersonating a Mexican grad student, but just know that anyone who has ever read your blog posts before and has experience as a university student would be able to see right through this. I’m not sure if you guys are just running out of blog material but looks like next time you’re going to have to try just a little bit harder.

  10. Mac says:

    What college did you attend and what was your major? Please elaborate on your graduate thesis.

  11. Brittany says:

    This fanfic about a college student from Mexico …

  12. Liz says:

    Why are you faking posts now? This is strange, even for y’all.

  13. Mari says:

    This is a made up story. Any person who has actually attended or
    completed grad school will almost always indicate the topic of their masters (e.g. “while in grad school earning my masters in education”) because “grad school” is not a major unlike “undergrad” which can be general liberal studies.
    And any person who has ever actually been resident assistant will refer
    to it as “resident assistant” or far more commonly “RA.” The person who wrote this has a tenuous grasp on correct word usage and proofreading and not because they may be ESL, but because they have not attended graduate school, or undergraduate school for that matter.

  14. Rachel Kimzey says:

    Genesis, thanks for stepping out of your comfort zone to write in a whole blog post in English! Perfectionism, worth based in truth, and being who God made me (rather than presenting an curated image of myself) are things I struggle with a lot, and this post was super timely. <3

    • Dave Smith says:

      Amazing how her writing style is so similar to Bethany’s.

      • Kristy Bryson Loneske says:

        People are allowed to be influenced by others. God has used Girl Defined so strongly in my life. I could never express enough appreciation for this blog and these Godly gals. Please don’t be so critical of those who love Him, and desire to help the hurting.

        • Sarah says:

          I still pray you seek medical help for you depression. God loves you and wants you to be happy. He gave us doctors. As someone above wisely noted,you wouldn’t use prayer alone to manage diabetic issue. God Bless!

  15. J says:

    We can all see you are deleting comments. Screenshots are a thing that exist.

  16. Elisabeth says:

    Just cut it out those sharp remarks. You all know Bethany and Kirsten are both 110% honest and would never impersonate anybody else. If you wanna rat on someone, go elsewhere.

    I personally found this quite uplifting. I have just started my senior year of hs and am very thankful for this insight before I leave for college. I have also been struggling with depression and anxiety, and appreciated this post,

    Thank you Genesis. You’re a beautiful woman and I know you will encourage many people with your gifts of grace and love.

    God bless!!! 🙂

  17. GirlDefined says:

    So proud of Genesis for opening up and sharing her story 🙂

  18. Deklar says:

    Lying is sinful.

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