Saturday 20 February 2016

Studying An Online Degree- Feeling Alone In A Crowd

Troy writes about the isolation that comes with online degrees, and making a concentrated effort to reach out to overcome this.

- Troy Lambert

Attending college online seems like a great idea. You can attend classes when you want, and work them and homework around your schedule. You can balance your own life and manage your own time. You can also get pretty darn lonely.

I was doing more than balancing kids, study, and work. I was isolated in other ways too. My marriage was in the end stages, and working full time, managing the household, and squeezing in study time left little room for anything else. Friends, who were once close, were now distant, and I felt forgotten.

I drank a lot, but it wasn't for pleasure. Of course, I denied my motives. I stopped working out and taking care of myself physically, and I gained some weight. I moved to a new community, where I had even fewer friends and contacts, and started working from home, increasing my feelings of isolation.

It’s not uncommon for online students to deal with situational depression, and to share those feelings of isolation and loneliness. When I was in this situation, though, I wasn’t reaching out. I didn’t search for and empathise with others who were feeling the same way.

Image Source here

At least not at first. As bad as depression can be, it doesn’t have to last. Once I realised I was depressed, I determined I needed to do something about it.

I knew I needed to take better care of myself physically, but first, I needed to tackle my mental health, since so much of it was rooted in the physiological. So I started slow, with meditation. Once I regained some focus and mental strength, I added some yoga, and other low impact exercise.

I made conscious efforts to email my professors and interact with other students in online chats. But virtual interaction was not enough: too much time interacting exclusively online can contribute to depression, feelings of loneliness, anxiety, and other mental disorders. So I reached out, and became a part of an away from keyboard (AFK) study and writer’s groups.

It helped, a step at a time. My marriage ended. I quit coffee for a while, something that brought headaches and sleepiness at first, followed by more clarity. I drank less, and for better reasons. My schoolwork and my other work got better.

I’ve met someone, and my social life is certainly better. There are still times though, when e-mailing assignments or chatting with other students online, when the old feelings of loneliness comes back. Even when I am out in a crowded bar, surrounded by friends new and old who love me, I can still feel isolated.

Depression is tough, but even when I feel myself sliding backwards I know it wont last.

I’m not alone in a crowd, and if I can find the strength to reach out, I know others will be there for me.

For more information about how to get support at university for depression and feelings of isolation, click here.

For more information on our Ripple Campaign and how to get involved follow this link.

1 comment: