Information Mental Health

Going Back To College With A Mental Illness

I'm going back to college! I'm both nervous and excited!

I’ve just been accepted to my local community college and FAFSA. I’ll be going back starting Summer semester and wanted to give some tips on how to manage school with a mental illness.

I applied last week to a few schools and was immediately (of course) accepted to my local community college. They have a program that will transfer me after two years to a four year university. Do I plan to go the entire four years? You betcha. And an extra 2-3 years for my Masters Degree.

I’m 30 and for the last five months, I’ve felt nothing but shame and guilt for being 30 with nothing for me. I have always been fascinated by psychology. It’s something that’s always just drawn me in. I like learning how people tick and how our brains work. I’ve wanted my psych degree for as long as I could remember.

I went to college 10 years ago at 20 almost 21 and flunked out of both of my first two semesters. But during this time I had been physically abused by an exboyfriend and during the second semester, I was suffering from PTSD. It was hard for me

So here I am, 30 and headed back to school for my Masters degree in psychology. I’ve ALWAYS wanted to be a therapist/psychologist and help others become a better person. So please know, that now when I post things about mental health, I’ll also be learning about it. I’ll be able to provide better, more informative information.

I have always had a strong need/drive to help others become a better them.

Unfortunately, in high school my boyfriend at the time, continuously told me I couldn’t pursue these careers and they held me back from starting college right away. I wanted to be a lawyer at one point and he told me that would be too hard for me. I wanted to be a psychologist and despite my excitement for my Psychology class junior year, he questioned why I wanted to do that to the point that I was gas lit and believed it wasn’t right for me. When I settled for Journalism, he got me a shadowing to complete my graduation requirements but then told me that it was dying.

The only thing he wanted me to be was a nurse, despite me explaining that I could never be a nurse. (I could not imagine being one right now and feel so horrible for the nurses suffering through horrible things due to the pandemic…) He didn’t care. He convinced me that they make really good money, quickly and gaslit me into believing that maybe that was something I should do, even though deep down it’s just not for me.

(I have a lot of mental health stories coming about this one.)

A year after he broke up with me, I enrolled in a psych program at a different community college. (And, you know the rest of the story now.)

My husband is the best person on this planet. I would give my life for him in a heartbeat. He is one of my biggest supporters (next to my amazing mother) and I could NOT do this life without him. So thank you, Nathan, for everything.

Tips To Help You Get Back Into School When Suffering From A Mental Illness:

  1. Get a good counselor

The first step you need to take is to seek out a therapist/counselor/psychologist. Someone you can go to to talk about your feelings/life issues and get the help you need out of talk/CBT/DBT therapy.

2. Get on medications (if needed)

If your diagnosis will benefit from medications, I highly suggest getting on them. A lot of disorders are caused by chemical imbalances that you can re-balanace through medications. They can be intimidating but make sure to ask you psychiatrist/therapist about the benefits vs the implications.

3. Keep track of your moods/thoughts

I have the Daylio app which is free to download on iOS. It’s been so easy and accessible for me. It makes it easy to track my different moods each day. I can add activities that correlated with those moods and even add notes to explain why I was feeling the way I was. They include statistics so you can view all of your moods and which activities make you feel a certain way more.

4. Journal

This one is a given. Journaling is the best way for you to clear your mind of overwhelming thoughts and events that have happened. Journaling can be meditative. Or it can seem overwhelming. If it seems overwhelming, you need to start small. Go for once a month or week and then increase from there. It’s not meant to overwhelm you. It’s a tool to help you recognize certain thought patterns and to write out how you are feeling so that you won’t feel that way as much anymore. I journal 1-2 a week currently.


This is the BIGGEST piece of advice I can give you. I know first-hand how hard it can be to believe in yourself, but I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news. If you don’t believe in yourself you won’t be successful. Don’t hold yourself back. Start off my little mantra’s each day. “I am worth it.” Or “I am amazing.” Or “I can do it.” Just repeat something simple to yourself each and every day. It’ll make it easier when you reach a hard assignment/subject because you will know you can do it.

These are just a few tips I have to help you get going on your own college/career path. I hope my story and tips will help others get back to school (if that’s what you want to do, of course!)


  1. Great advice for those of us struggling period! Learning how to separate thoughts and emotions then deciding if they are constructive or destructive has been a big help for me.
    Often I don’t see it one way or the other until I realize I’m telling myself a story. It isn’t the real truth.
    Step back
    Ask what is this
    Building/ Neutral/ Destructive
    Then choose kind and be happy.
    What is a kindness and what will keep me happy. And donuts or ice cream are not always the answer.

    In other words your suggestions look great.

    1. Thank you so much. I totally agree that this could be used with just about anything. I really like what you’ve said here! I’m really working on the pausing and choosing kindness thing, especially after the year I had (we all had, really). Most of the negative things I say are about myself and I’ve been really trying to work on being kinder to myself so I can be kinder to others as well.

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