In case you haven't heard yet, I am a psychology major (And a man with more secrets to spill that the FBI and CIA combined, so you'll prolly hear me say stuff like that a lot).
So I am going to take a break from my writings and give some (what I feel) is much-needed advice on said topics above. Its coming near finals. Finals. The time when every dumbass professor decides to make you question your sanity and your will to live by giving you every possible thing to do and then extra. Some depressed (I think a lot more than are willing to admit it, frankly) or will be soon. There have been losses. There will be more. This is not to depress you, its just to say that this is for everyone, either now or for you to tuck away into your belt for later.
The thing about stress, grief, and depression is they are remarkably similar on a number of levels. First they drain all the power out of your batteries, so to speak. They make you tired. They make you wanna lay down and nap, and make you feel a host of other emotions; anger, fear, anxiety, and so on. These "add ons" are different for each person, however they are there. The common exhaustion is linked to the chemical reaction that makes them so ignominious. My psychology professor told me this week that your body knows no difference in the reaction between physiological stress (an upcoming test) and physical stress (reacting to an angry bear trying to eat you). The chemical reactions are the same. And since your body has no one to fight off and it be over with, the continued strain has many negative side-effects. The two main chemicals involved are adrenalines (we all know what those do) and Cortisol (which elevates blood pressure). Cortisol is also used during the feelings of Grief and adrenals can be used as well. This is what causes the emotional instability; your body is changing literally, physically adapting to try and cope.
As your body is ravaging your mind, things couldn't be harder. Often this is happening when you need to think clearly. Boot camp in the armed forces does its best to help combat this and help one to think well during combat scenarios. And I commend them, they do an amazing job. However, there are still after affects such as PTSD from the ongoing chemical reactions. So how can you adapt and handle these things? Here are some tips that don't come from a text book, they come from my own life.
1) Acknowledge your feelings. Feelings are just that; what we feel. You cannot say "this is stupid, I don't need to feel this way." Well, the truth is you feel it, so don't deny that. It doesn't matter why your depressed or why you are stressed, dismissing it as trivial will only make it worse. If you don't know why you feel this way, take a few minutes of self-evaluation to find out why. I had to do this a lot as a teenager. It helps sometimes to know why so you can tease through it and reach closure.
2) Take time outs. Take times to get away from the hell-hole your in. Yes, it seems counter-intuitive to step away from the studying when your stressed out, or when your trying to "shoulder on" through grief. However, these things will not help you. Your mind is in a survival mentality that has helped the human race stay in existence for ages, however its not going to help you by kicking the can down the road, it only makes things worse. I have to remind myself to do this one, I am definitely an A-type person.
3) Accept help. Don't let your pride get in the way of those around you making it easier on you. They love you and chances are they already know your in trouble. Don't insult them by saying no. Give them the honor to help you. You will be glad you did. This does not convey weakness, it conveys gratitude that they care and often builds the relationship quite well. I have learned these things from personal experience.
4) Remember and look forward. Yes, remember the good times when you weren't stressed and when you weren't depressed or grieving. However, do not long for them, just remind yourself that life wasn't always this way and this too shall pass. The good times will roll in again, there will be peace in the valley, and the clouds will lift. Yes, for now you are in the pits. Don't deny that. Just acknowledge that there is hope. Acknowledge that you once were not in these pits. This is a rope to hold onto when all else seems lost. It is also your safety net to keep you from despair and depression. Trust me, the last thing you need when stressed or grieving is classic depression. (Note: grieving is not depression. They are different.)
Allow me to tell a very personal story that may help. This was the mos stressful time of my life when I garnered depression and even became suicidal.
It was two years ago, I was in my first year of college, spring semester. The first had been ok-ish except the first week, which in itself was hell. I was proud of myself, my work had been literally the number 1 of four out of five classes including Algebra and English Comp. The second semester I registered for Philosophy, English Lit, History 2, Astronomy, and Literature. The first two on that list were my first in-person college classes (last semester I had worked all online), the rest were also online. My philosophy teacher was a sweet, brilliant old lady who old enough to be all of our great grandmothers.
My other class had another old lady, this one was not sweet. Arrogant, cruel, playing favorites, Machiavellian, vindictive, and incompetent she refused to let anyone who was not her favorite walk away with an A. I was not her favorite. As an example, I turned in an assignment where she took off ten points because I used flashcards that were an inch too big. One freaking inch, people. She never talked about the assignments, never taught, only told us about her *cough cough* life, her son who was finally getting married, and her house. For real.
Around midterms, Texas Iced over. For real. Iced over. It was like someone took Alaska and shook it out over us. We lost power for a week and I had to stay at the church. Snow and slush covered the roads where it was not safe to drive. A tree fell on my house and all but demolished a section of it. Then things got worse.
My mother lost her hearing. Yes. Her hearing. The doctors didn't know what was wrong. Dad had to start working triple shifts to pay for the med bills and the house. By douche rude middle brother virtually said "This isn't my problem" and walked out on us. I had to drive on ice roads every morning to and from class--as a new driver. I also had to take my mother who lost 30 lbs from not eating to the doctor and force feed her. Did I mention that I also had to console my younger brother (who, btw, has mental disability and was 11 at the time) that life would be ok, and promised him that I was sure mom would be alright even though I was lying through my teeth.
During this time I went down from a small 124 lbs to 94. At just shy of 6 ft, that's not a lot. I didn't eat, barely slept, and you could tell. I had to talk more than one suicide down, not including my own. Stress wasn't a question during this season, stress WAS my life. But I learned. I got through it. I found these methods first hand and they saved my life. Literally. They can help you too. Give them a shot. If this helps any of you, then I am honored to have been able to impact your life.
As always, feel free to add other coping mechanisms bellow. Feed back is loved.