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Dealing with mental illness in grad school


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Hey all!


Currently a first year MSW student right now and have been struggling with my eating disorder since October. I was wondering if any of you have experience, and are comfortable with sharing your experiences on how you cope. I know I need to reach out and seek help, but I don't have any money to afford ED specific therapy out of pocket and my health insurance won't cover much.  I'm seeking out therapy on campus but I have to pay out of pocket and making appointments are extremely difficult due to my busy schedule and the counseling centers lack of availability. I typically have 10-17 hour days, with field work, classes, and a part-time job, which makes seeking help even more difficult. I'm not sure what to do. How long do I wait till I start talking to my professors and advisors and let them know about my situation? My focus has been completely shot lately (i.e. it's taken me 4 hours to write 3 paragraphs tonight) and my energy levels completely down. I'm just not sure what to do or if anyone is in any sort of similar boat. 


Thanks guys!

Edited by sarbear
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I'm very surprised that you have to pay out of pocket to use the school's counseling services. That's the kind of service I expect a school to provide to students. In my limited experience, my schools have provided these services for free, although I believe they limited how often you could visit.

I don't have an eating disorder, but I do have problems with social anxiety disorder and depression (which resulted from the anxiety and isolation from others). I struggled for a long time as an undergrad. I did use school counseling services, but the anxiety ultimately stopped me from going eventually. I really didn't cope. Some semesters I was ok by sheer luck, others were disasters. Untreated mental illness is not a good thing to have when you are pursuing an education. Well, it's never a good thing to have, but considering all of the stress and responsibility in grad school, it could really cause problems.

I personally would talk to one professor you trust about it first (such as your advisor) before bringing it up to others. They might be able to guide and support you or may know of some free or cheap resources to help you. I have tried discussing my issues with professors in the past. Some have been very sympathetic, cut me some slack when I missed class, and helped me get through it. Others told me to suck it up and basically told me they'd have no mercy on me, nor did they offer any help. I suspect these professors thought I was making it up. The bottom line is not all professors will care about your mental health and even if they do, they aren't really qualified to help you and the best they can do is be lenient with deadlines and attendance.

The most important thing you can do is get some sort of help, even if it's reading a self help book or posting to a support forum. Don't try to ride it out, and certainly don't go it alone.

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Definitely talk to a professor you trust. Also depending on the type of insurance you have just contact them they should have a list of therapists then you can call and find out what they specialize in. I know it's difficult but you can get through it, also are there any eating disorder centers?

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