19 votes

Struggling with social life and depression at university

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10 comments

  1. [3]
    streblo
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    It sounds like you're doing everything right. Sometimes you just have to trust the process. It's probably frustrating to hear that and discouraging when the results don't line up with expectations...

    I don't want this to sound like I'm trying to throw a pity party for myself, though. While it may be that a lot of this is outside my control, I know there's gotta be something I'm doing wrong, could do better, or could do differently to improve my situation. I know that I'll make friends eventually, I just feel like it shouldn't be taking this long.

    It sounds like you're doing everything right. Sometimes you just have to trust the process. It's probably frustrating to hear that and discouraging when the results don't line up with expectations but that's just life sometimes. At the risk of sounding like an ultra-rationalist (which I can assure the reader I am not) using a poker-esque decision making framework of expected value (EV) instead of results can be beneficial. Worry less about outcomes, they're often random. Instead just try to do exactly what you've been doing -- try and maximize the chances of making friends. One thing that comes to mind that you could try is making friends through study groups. Particularly so if the academics are heavy. Studying can be awfully social as well -- we used to bring our laptops to the campus bar and do group projects over a few jugs of beer. It's also pretty easy to go from study partners to hanging out on the weekends.

    Here's my personal anecdote. I have two degrees from two universities. One school had a reputation of a commuter school -- less people living on or near campus and more commuting from the surrounding metro area. Lots of people would just head home after classes and it was a lot harder to make friends. Also, most of the commuters were commuting because they were living with their parents -- so they already had existing circles of friends and didn't need to make more. I eventually ended up with a circle of friends but it was harder, took longer, and was often depressing at first.

    The other school was radically different -- everyone seemed to be living a bicycle ride away at most and there was lots going on in campus. I was also in a much harder program and made friends with more of my classmates through the crucible of shared suffering. So making friends was actually quite easy and required much less effort on my part.

    So school culture definitely matters. Telling you this after you're enrolled might not seem super helpful, but at least you can adjust your expectations. You can't control your environment-- so just keep putting your best foot forward. You will get there, even if it takes longer. There's assuredly a bunch of people at your school in the same boat you're in, particularly with COVID going on.

    And I can't really talk about that sort of stuff with my therapist, because they'd be legally obligated to tell my family, and I don't want them to worry.

    Are you sure about this? I'm not sure where you live but that seems over-the-top. Maybe if they thought you were in danger of harming yourself but it sounds like you're more dealing with intrusive thoughts, which your therapist can definitely help you deal with. I'm not a therapist though, so please do talk to someone if you're actually thinking about harming yourself. Your family will be a lot more thankful than worried you decided to talk to your therapist in the long run.

    Anyways, I just wanted to confirm I read your post, thanks for sharing. Hopefully it will get better for you soon.

    9 votes
    1. TemulentTeatotaler
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Not a therapist either. From what I know a bit of this depends on your state, and it may vary at the discretion of the therapist, but mostly it comes down to whether they think you pose a credible...

      Are you sure about this? I'm not sure where you live but that seems over-the-top. Maybe if they thought you were in danger of harming yourself

      Not a therapist either. From what I know a bit of this depends on your state, and it may vary at the discretion of the therapist, but mostly it comes down to whether they think you pose a credible imminent threat to yourself or others.

      If that's something OP is concerned about they could ask their therapist (the questionnaire footer may differ from their answer) or look at the statutes of their state that hopefully are in that first link, which may look like:

      A duty to warn arises if the patient has communicated to the practitioner a threat of imminent, serious physical violence against a readily identifiable individual or against himself and the circumstances are such that a reasonable professional in the practitioner's area of expertise would believe the patient intended to carry out the threat

      Suicidal ideation is not rare, with ~11% of the U.S. population having seriously considered suicide (per the CDC, June 2020).


      A small bit of situation-agnostic advice (so ignore it if it doesn't apply) is that you may be better off just speaking honestly to your girlfriend or family. When you're close to people they often can tell when things aren't alright, and the blanks they fill in may be more distressful than a sincere conversation where you say "I'm dealing with X by trying Y, let me know if Z gets hard for you so we can figure something out".

      I've had people in my life with whom sharing makes things worse, so I definitely don't think that always applies.

      Wishing you the best @ducc, depression and spiky-protein bois suck!

      6 votes
    2. [2]
      Comment deleted by author
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      1. MimicSquid
        Link Parent
        From my experience, therapists are obligated to report if you have an active plan for how you'd end your life, but not if you have passive ideation. You should ask your therapist directly about...

        From my experience, therapists are obligated to report if you have an active plan for how you'd end your life, but not if you have passive ideation. You should ask your therapist directly about what the case is where you are, and they'll be honest with you about it.

        9 votes
  2. DepartedPretzel
    Link
    I also struggled with maintaining a social life and depression at a “dead” commuter school. Hello fellow human! Does the city outside the school have much life to it? Would you be interested in...

    I also struggled with maintaining a social life and depression at a “dead” commuter school. Hello fellow human!

    Does the city outside the school have much life to it? Would you be interested in activities that aren’t hosted at/by the school?

    One of my regrets was not exploring my school’s surrounding community, since there was an unspoken divide between the campus and everything around it. I find that every school campus has that divide. After I left school, I volunteered with a mutual aid group that operated a mere few blocks from campus. It was frankly a more fulfilling experience than the insular and homogenous student clubs where I participated.

    A list of off-campus social opportunities I can think of:

    Is there a hackerspace or makerspace you can try out? I used to frequent them years ago and it was a rad experience with lots of like-minded nerds. They usually have membership fees, but may offer student discounts or low-income pricing upon request.

    Any locally-owned cafés or periodicals? Pre-pandemic, I regularly mined café bulletin boards and magazine event listings for any interesting events. I also kept an eye out for flyers stuck to lampposts.

    Volunteering too – outfits such as mutual aid groups, food pantries, and DSA chapters come to mind. Any small volunteering outfit that isn’t a huge non-profit or an exclusionary place of worship usually has good sense of community.

    4 votes
  3. [3]
    suspended
    Link
    If you were to get a bid for a frat, then are you prepared for the hazing? I joined a frat when I was at uni because they abolished hazing. Have you tried going to small live music venues?...

    If you were to get a bid for a frat, then are you prepared for the hazing? I joined a frat when I was at uni because they abolished hazing.

    Have you tried going to small live music venues? Sometimes that's a good place to meet people. Also, are there meetup groups in your area?

    3 votes
    1. [3]
      Comment deleted by author
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      1. streblo
        Link Parent
        Uhhh didn't you make this? That's pretty fucking awesome man -- show up with that at the CS club and you'll turn some heads. Or try a few hackathons out, sometimes there is a counselor or someone...

        I think part of the problem is my lack of drive to be interested/passionate about something, and the fact that I don't feel like I fit into any particular religious/social/racial/interest group.

        Uhhh didn't you make this? That's pretty fucking awesome man -- show up with that at the CS club and you'll turn some heads. Or try a few hackathons out, sometimes there is a counselor or someone who can put teams together from individuals who don't have a group.

        11 votes
      2. suspended
        Link Parent
        You're welcome and good luck.

        You're welcome and good luck.

        3 votes
  4. [3]
    hungariantoast
    Link
    Would you mind telling us what university you attend? Odds are, if it's "a very large research university in the U.S.", then at least one person on this site does or has gone there as well, and...

    Would you mind telling us what university you attend? Odds are, if it's "a very large research university in the U.S.", then at least one person on this site does or has gone there as well, and could probably give you better advice than just generic internet stranger talk

    Also, if you're having such a bad experience at this school, have you thought about maybe just transferring somewhere else?

    3 votes
    1. [2]
      Comment deleted by author
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      1. teaearlgraycold
        Link Parent
        You're in control here - but I would recommend that you stop at nothing to put yourself out of situations that cause suicidal ideation. If you think that transferring will fix that problem then...

        You're in control here - but I would recommend that you stop at nothing to put yourself out of situations that cause suicidal ideation. If you think that transferring will fix that problem then IMO it's the right tradeoff. You'd need to have the mindset that even if it doesn't help your depression you're still alright. The last thing you want is to feel depressed and like you've thrown away an opportunity.

        2 votes
    2. nukeman
      Link Parent
      I was going to echo the second part of this comment; if possible, it seems transferring (especially to your GF’s school) could work wonders for your happiness.

      I was going to echo the second part of this comment; if possible, it seems transferring (especially to your GF’s school) could work wonders for your happiness.

      1 vote