Ask a fifth-year: Counseling for one, counseling for all

Dear Sarah,

I’ve been struggling with life at Lawrence. I have a heavier than normal class load this term and I’ve been letting emotional problems get the better of my time. I finally reach the end of the day and I’m so emotionally exhausted and physically tired that I can’t bring myself to do any of my homework. I’m starting to fall behind in some classes and my friends are worried about me. They keep saying I should go to counseling services but I keep telling them it’s not that bad. The people there only deal with serious problems, right?

 – Struggling Sophomore

 

Dear Struggling Sophomore,

Your friends are on the right track. The folks over at counseling services will most assuredly talk to you about absolutely anything you find yourself wanting to talk about. You don’t need to wait until you feel that your problems have become “serious” enough. In fact, it’s better if you go sooner rather than later.

I’ve gone to counseling services in both instances—when life is at its very worst and when it’s more stable. And believe me when I say nipping the problem in the bud is a much preferable option. Lawrence moves fast. Probably faster than the real world. If you feel the earth starting to slip out from underneath you, it’s important to ground yourself before you completely lose control.

Don’t be worried about unfair judgment surrounding counseling services here at Lawrence. I can’t speak for everyone, but I am confident that no one would look down on you for seeking out help. In fact, I’m sure your friends and peers would be thrilled that you are actively trying to help yourself. After all, that’s what counseling services is there for.

Your friends are there to be your friends, not your therapists. I’m not saying you shouldn’t ask them for advice. I frequently have life chats during happy hour in the VR, or over dinner or coffee. But I have learned that you shouldn’t rely on your friends to fix all of your problems. Think of how stressful your own life is right now. Now imagine the weight of your friend’s problems on top of that stress. It gets to be a lot.

Let the folks over at counseling services do their job. They’re paid to help us be the best students we can and become better people. I recommend setting up an appointment in advance. Setting aside a time that is convenient for you means you are more likely to actually go. I couldn’t tell you the number of times I’ve planned to drop by sometime during their open hours and then found myself wrapped up in another project and forgot to go.

It is also important to mention that your first visit may not be a success. If this is the case, don’t give up and stop going entirely. The first person I worked with at counseling services was not the best fit for me. They will understand if you wish to schedule a new appointment with someone else. It’s like finding the perfect professor. Not everyone will click with the same teaching style; you have to find the person that works best for you.

To schedule an appointment, call 920-832-6574. 

Send in your questions to wagners@lawrence.edu and have them answered by Sarah, a double-degree student in her fifth year at LU.

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