How do I get my new college roommate in the loop about my anxiety and depression?

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My First Kodachrome and My Last KodachromeJuliana S. asks:

I’m a 19-year-old about to start my second semester of college in the fall. I’m going to be assigned a roommate and we’ll share a 12×15 room. I’m totally fine with all the normal roommate issues, but I withdrew from school partway through my first semester due to an enormous and unexpected episode of major depression and anxiety. I’m dealing with it a lot right now, so hopefully it will be under control by then, but I am going to need to warn my roommate anyway. What is the best way to do this, and what should I ask of her — at both an absolute minimum and a normal friendly-roommate level?

I’ll start! I’ve dealt with anxiety, and my best advice for cohabitating is to be open (but not too open). Most people with overactive anxiety put off a vibe when they’re feeling upset — some are snappish, some are withdrawn, some drink a lot. There are a ton of responses. No matter your flavor, anxiety often affects those closest — physically and emotionally — to the sufferer. So it’ll help you both if you are up front, but if you just blurt out, “I HAVE ANXIETY AND I AM ON XANAX,” things could get awkward, especially with someone you just met.

The most important thing your new roomie needs to know is that this isn’t about her. You can keep it non-specific and say something like, “I’ve had a hard time adjusting. I’ve learned a lot and I’m working to take care of myself, but I want you to know that if I [resort to my coping mechanism], it’s not about you.” And then, keep her updated without oversharing. On days I’m feeling high-strung, I’ve learned to give my husband a heads-up: “I’m sorry that I snapped at you/don’t want to hang out/need to be alone. I’m feeling anxious today because of blah blah blah…” I’m a very insular person, so I don’t even like to go into detail, but just that simple bit of info helps a LOT — he no longer feels like he has to walk on eggshells when I’m acting weird.

What do you think, guys? What’s the necessary amount of information one needs to share with a new roommate about problems like this?

Comments on How do I get my new college roommate in the loop about my anxiety and depression?

  1. I’m not really sure. What I can say is that I spent a year sharing a house when I was in the depths of depression, cried every single night, couldn’t face getting up every morning, and couldn’t tell anyone I lived with. And because I never brought it up, they never said anything. Worst year of me life. However you say it, has got to be better than not telling them and struggling on your own x

    • I second this. I never shared my depression/anxiety issues with my freshman year roommate, and it was also the worst year of my life. She really did think I was completely insane, and refused to talk to me :-/ There was also much gossiping done about me in my hall, which really helped my social anxiety and poor self esteem. So saying anything is better than saying absolutely nothing, for sure.

  2. I wish I could provide some good advice, because having a roommate my freshman year compounded my depression/anxiety issues by a thousand (I’m a neat freak who needs my sleep and privacy, she…was not) and it was pure misery for both of us. However, suffering through those months made the next three and a half years so much more bearable, because my parents’ frantic calls trying to find me some kind of relief yielded the info that my problems actually qualified as a disability that made me eligible for a single room (which there were usually long waiting lists for). By spring semester, I had a sweet corner room all to myself, and after a year and a half of that I got bumped up to a nicer dorm that had private baths too.

    So good luck with your roommate, but if you’re the kind of person whose anxiety makes living with other people impossible (I feel you), start checking into whether your school has provisions for this kind of thing. You might be surprised.

    • THIS. Also, your RA is there to help you, if you have such a thing. If not, your college will probably offer free or highly discounted therapy to students. It’s not the same as having your old familiar therapist, but college therapists often focus on college or transition-related issues. They might have resources or suggestions that are more tailored to your needs and your college.

      • As a former RA I would suggest that if you’re comfortable with talking with your RA that they can be an asset. From my experience and the training I received RA’s are full of suggestions for helping to make the transition into college easier. A RA may also be able to help you talk with your roommate about your concerns about cohabitating. Also if you cue your RA in on your mental health history as it relates to your college experience she may make an effort to check in with you more and make sure that everything is hunky dory with you and any issues you’re having with a roommate. I know I made an effort to check in on my girls that I knew were having a difficult time so hopefully I could help them find the best resources and support before the issues they were facing became overwhelming. A well trained and knowledgeable RA can be an asset or even just a set of ears and a shoulder when you’re frustrated and feeling alone.

        • I totally agree. I worked as an RA at my school, and my husband at his. We recieved extensive training regarding how to spot depression/anxiety and were instructed in all of the campus resources centered around helping students cope. It has helped a lot, even in my post college experiance. My husband has been using his training to make sure I’m not suffering from post-partum depression. I’ve been able to help my younger brother with his depression.
          Talk you your RA about it. Even though we are trained to spot it, sometimes it’s still hard. I had 60 students on my floor, so it’s easy for things to slip through, but if students came to me I was more than willing to help.

        • Firstly, Juliana S., I want you to know that you’re not alone. I went to college straight out of high school at a school that was a terrible fit for me. On the wink/nudge from my choir director, I grabbed a shiny brass ring that wasn’t actually anywhere near what I wanted/ needed in a college/academic environment. I withdrew after a full year–most of which was spent basically hiding in my dorm, trying to hide from my anxiety as well as all of the problems it had created. I was put on academic probation, I was gossiped about, and people were generally afraid because they didn’t know what to do or how to act around me–even toward the end when I finally told people. So, it’s partly telling them that helps, but also telling them early, and, honestly, you’ll probably have to remind them often because it’s generally not something they think about/ deal with. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, you don’t need an anxiety Twitter feed or anything, just… as it happens.

          ANYWAY… RAs are typically especially good at finding a way to talk with your roommate. They basically train as mediators in order to do the RA job, and that’s often what you need. What might be ultra good for you might be to talk to the school therapist right away when you get on campus, then, armed with the information you glean from that first session or two, go to your RA, who can help you figure out how to go to your roommate. In my experience, the RA will often have you set up a time where you can both go into the RA’s room/ what have you, and have a safe, mediated discussion about it. That often helps in that you don’t have to do it alone.

          Anyway, I am SO SO glad that Ariel has created a community in which people like you, Juliana S., can feel comfortable looking for advice. If I’d had it at your stage in life, my life may have played out much differently. Good luck to you, dear!

    • I work professionally at a college, and part of my job responsibilities include being a resident director for several of the residence halls. Anxiety and depression are considered to be valid disabilities, and all colleges that receive federal funding (which is all but five of them, so odds are very good that if you’re in the US your college receives funding) must abide by the Americans with Disabilities Act, meaning that whenever possible, they must meet reasonable requests for accommodations. So if it seems that living with a roommate may be stressful, or if it turns out to be too hard, get documentation from your psychologist/therapist/whoever stating that you need this accommodation and bring it to the disabilities specialist at your college (if you call the Dean of Students Office/Student Life/Student Affairs/whatever it’s called at your college they can help you get it to where it needs to go). Colleges will work to make sure that you get a living situation that better works for you. Keep in mind that singles are often difficult to come by, and getting into them during the school year is a lot harder to do than before the school year begins, but they’ll do their best to work with you to make your college experience better.

      Talk with your RA, but don’t forget about your RD! Lots of us are professional staff, and many have master’s degrees in higher education or counseling education. We can also help you if it turns out that you need to give another roommate a shot (as typically RAs can’t initiate room changes).

  3. While not having experienced serious mental-health challenges myself, I have had a few roommates who have. Here’s what I can tell you from experience: if you’re not open about what you’re dealing with, your roommate will worry about you. I definitely noticed when a roommate got really withdrawn, slept all day, drank more than usual, or seemed checked out from life–even if we weren’t close friends. It’s important for you to give a bit of information about your experience, but make sure to frame it in a positive way. Highlight what you’re doing to take care of yourself and reassure them that they don’t need to worry if you seem to be having a bad day–that it will pass and you’ll be okay. Just as you may tell yourself these hopeful things, say them out loud. Let your roommate know if you’re taking medication, seeing a counselor, exercising, eating well, whatever it may be that shows you’re being proactive and self-aware.

    Tell her also how she can help. Don’t ask excessive things of her or make her feel like she’s walking on eggshells in her own room, but have those conversations all roommates have about sleep hours, noise, cleanlineness, guests, whatever. Let her know what you would like from your shared space and work to find compromises that keep you both healthy and happy.

    You can also help your roommate feel more comfortable by giving some information about when she does need to worry. Is there a behavior that would signal a really concerning trend in your wellness? Let her know what to look for and how she can contact your parents, therapist, or whoever else is important in your treatment. Don’t ask her to be your babysitter (again, reassure her that you’re taking care of herself). But a bit of information will make her feel better because she’ll know how to distinguish a bad day from a really concerning day, and she’ll know how to help. Knowledge is power.

    • It’s good for roommates in any circumstances to give each other emergency contact info: for severe allergies, medicine reactions, low blood sugar moments, etc.

  4. I think Cat’s advice to warn your roommate not to take it personally is very important. I have been fortunate not to suffer from depression or anxiety but I have lived with two roommates in the past who were manic-depressive. One I lived with for four years of college and it had a very negative impact on the way I view my college experience. It was hard watching her stay in bed and skip classes week after week knowing that she was already failing. She did not take out her anxiety on me but she did on her boyfriend and it was also hard to stand by while she screamed at him. Taking care of yourself I think is the best thing you can do for the people around you. It can be very hard to lead a happy life when someone so close to you is exhibiting signs of depression.

    I also lived in an intentional community for a while with a woman who turned out to be manic-depressive. She was my closest friend in the house until she inexplicably cut me out of her life. She was embarassed to admit what was going on with her and refused to take medication. Towards the end of her time in the house she walked around all day with sun glasses and head phones so she did not have to interact with anyone. Again, if she had just taken care of herself, eveyone would have been better off.

    • I think it’s also really important to be reminded that it is a condition, not a crazy. I started having massive panic attacks in my sophomore year, and I always just thought I was crazy, so I kept my mouth shut. Later I found out that the girl who dropped out around the same time as me was experiencing the exact same thing and just thought she was crazy. We became close friends later and both often talked about how embarrassing it was, and how foolish we were to not talk to each other about it openly. We were twenty feet away physically and 50000 miles emotionally distant from everyone. Ooops!

      I always preface this in new living situations by stating that I’m not crazy. Sometimes my body feels and reacts a certain way for no real reason. The worst thing in my experience, was having a flight of fight response in my body, when absolutely NOTHING was wrong. I would always tell me roommate/friends/loved ones, that not only is it not about you, it may not be about ANYTHING AT ALL.

  5. I would say to remind your roommate that you are not their responsibility and that you’re not asking them for help. Preface the conversation with “I have some medical issues you should know about–they’re [X, Y, Z]. I’m dealing with them [this way]. I felt like you should know, because they can affect my day-to-day life, but I can handle them. I don’t need you to take care of me, and if I need help, I’ll figure out how to get it.”

    If you and your roommate develop a closer friendship, you can add her/him to your support structure later. At the beginning of your relationship, however, it’s important to express that you’re going to be their roommate, not their responsibility.

    I’ve been on both sides of this issue–I’ve had the roommate with serious mental health issues, and I’ve struggled with my own while in a roommate situation. Taking responsibility for myself was a big part of my recovery/coping process, and I think letting my roommate see that I was taking care of myself took a lot of stress off her mind.

    • I think you can tell them that you’re taking care of yourself with out telling them that you don’t need their help. As a previous roommate of people with various issues (from depression to just being bad with money), I’m always willing to volunteer to help – whether its making you get out of bed and go to class/work when you’d rather stare at the ceiling all day or setting up a separate bank account for you at my credit union and giving you a weekly allowance from your own money.

      However, if someone starts out by telling me that they don’t need/want my help, I’m definitely not going to cross their personal boundaries by bringing up an offer to help out later. I think you can explain how you’re handling a situation in such a way that a roommate doesn’t feel an obligation to get involved with out closing the door to them volunteering to help out.

      • That’s a good point. I just really kicked my own ass trying to help a roommate who wasn’t ready to help herself, so it’s very possible I’m oversensitive. 😀

  6. i didn’t tell my roommate for a long time about my depression. and actually, she saved my life. we had only lived together for one semester and going into our second semester, my life seemed to come apart at the seams. maybe it had been going downhill for sometime.

    i didn’t go to class/leave our room/get out of bed for nearly a week. she took care of me as much as possible, trying to get me to eat, bringing water to me before/after her classes. she emailed my professors and told them i was dealing with some family bereavement or something, so i didn’t get put on academic probation. finally, she called my mom. and got me the help i desperately needed.

    i am glad that you are concerned about talking to your future roomie about it. i was so afraid of the overshare and admitting that i was failing at life, that i didn’t say anything. and in someways, that was worse. my roomie and i are still friends, though things were weird for a bit because of the situation i put her in.

    i think having a casual, honest chat is the best. also, if you can give your roommate an emergency contact (not necessarily immediately), it helps.

    • In fact, sharing emergency contact info is good practice for all roommates, not just those with health challenges. Make a point to either program this info into your phone or to post a list near the phone, on the fridge, or another safe place.

  7. All the advice so far has been great. I might also suggest asking the roommate if she has any major issues or needs herself. It makes the conversation seem less one-sided and more of a “roommate agreement.” (Although a written roommate agreement is also often a good idea, issues or no). You also don’t want to be contributing to your anxiety by worrying about your roommate! Laying out what she expects or needs can in fact help you focus more on yourself.

  8. I would just say, somewhat early on (email, even, if you want to) “Hey, just to warn you, I do have some anxiety issues and occasionally they can get the best of me and I might act a little moody. I just wanted to let you know ahead of time so that you know not to take it personally if I’m snippish, and to make sure you know that you can call me on my behavior if I’m acting inappropriately towards you. I’m taking meds and I do a pretty good job of keeping my problems to myself, but I wouldn’t want them to take you by surprise.”

    You can also mention things like “getting enough sleep is really important” or anything else that might affect your roommate dynamic, but make sure you make requests like that as politely and apologetically as possible- people don’t like to feel like their lifestyle is being encroached upon by someone else’s issues. Volunteer to do something nice in return, maybe.

    • I agree with everything except the word ‘apologetically.’ Anxiety and depression and other mental health issues are not your fault and you do not have to apologize for them. You should apologize for the inconvenience and for specific things that she deals with like ‘I’m sorry I kept you up last night’, but ‘I’m sorry that I’m depressed/anxious/whatever’ says that it’s your fault. This is not only untrue, but it can create a weird power dynamic in your relationship.

      As a former RA, current HM, I can tell you that the number one thing that creates weird relationships between roommates is unequal power dynamics. When both people think that they’re the more important person and expect the other person to make way for them, it creates a lot of drama. That’s the most common one, but actually the harder one to deal with is when one person thinks that they’re more important and the other person apologizes to relieve the tension. What happens is the first person starts to expect that the roommate is going to apologize or go out of their way and then they get offended when it doesn’t happen. I’m not saying that your roommate is necessarily going to be one of the ones who thinks the’s more important, but being apologetic is a good way to tell her that it’s an option. I advise not doing that.

      • Let your roommate know, let your RA know. Also ask your RA if she wold be comfortable being the go-to person for your roommate in the event that something comes up. Make sure that the RA communicates to the roommate that she is there for both of you.

  9. Totally agree with all of the above. Just wanted to state the obvious – seriously work at establishing a friendship with your roommate. Put in a serious effort to communicate – not just about big important stuff, but about little things, “How do you like your classes, how are your professors,” etc. I’m just finishing my freshman year of living with a roommate whom I literally never spoke to. It was miserable. Establishing open lines of communication with the little things early on is a huge step in the right direction.

  10. you know I had this exact problem my juinor year of school. I had allot of social anxiety and never thought people liked me. I remember being on the phone and crying to my mom about be anxious and feeling alone. She said Heather just go talk to your room mate. Sit with her and tell her u just need someone to talk to right now. U dont have to tell her you are depressed. SO I did and thats all I said to her and she picked up on that. Right away I felt soo much better. My anxiety started to lesson and I became more confident in myself. I knew that if anyone came up to me and said this I would have heard them out and sat with them. Now she is my best friend and MOH in my wedding next month.

  11. If you had diabetes, you would want your roommate to know about it, know what signs to look for, and what to do in an emergency. Unfortunately our society continues to treat mental health problems with such a negative attitude that most people consider them deep dark secrets. Please be open and honest with your roommate. Someone who lives with you is in a unique position to notice when things are going well and can even give you a heads up before you realize you’re feeling bad. As someone else mentioned, they often do know when something is not right and are afraid to bring it up, unless it’s already out in the open. Definitely share your emergency contact info, both with your roommate and your RA. Also make sure you connect with a counselor at the college health center so you have someone to talk to throughout the school year. Good luck, you are not your anxiety/depression and it does not own your life!!

  12. My husband and I both have depression and anxiety issues. When we first moved in our tiny apartment, the first six months were rough. He withdraws into himself when he’s in a down cycle, and I become irritable with a side of ‘have to clean and reorganize everything.’

    I have to side with Cat on making sure your roomie knows it’s not her. Mr and I have had several feelings hurt and arguments because one thought the other was mad at them/not happy/doesn’t love them, when really it had nothing to do with the other person.

    I’m a talker, but my husband isn’t so it’s harder for him to say ‘Woman, please stop trying to hug me right now, I need space!’ We’re still working on it. If you let your roomie know the basics of what is going on, it will probably save you a lot of misunderstandings and hurt feelings.

  13. Ohhhh boy can I talk about this one.

    Me: dysthymia, mild anxiety, PTSD. I just finished up three years in college housing. So. Your usual grain of salt, because I am a stranger on the internet, objects in mirror may be closer than they appear, etc., etc. This all comes from personal experience.

    My mental illnesses have shaped my identity hard, and so they tend to come up in conversation, which defuses The Big Conversation. If you’re actively in treatment — anything from taking a daily antidepressant or antianxiety medication to going to the student health center for counseling sessions (which they should definitely offer) to working with a private clinician — mentioning it in an offhand, casual way is a good way to ease into it. For example, when I moved in with People I Did Not Know three years ago, on move-in day, I wandered into the kitchen and asked to borrow a glass, explaining I hadn’t unpacked my kitchen stuff yet, and I needed to take my lexapro. (I can’t swallow pills dry.) And I held up my little green thingie of pills, and said something about, “If you see this around, either don’t touch it or put it on my desk, it’s really important that I not lose it. Thanks!” And wandered back out. A little later, I used the actual words “depression” and “anxiety,” but they were already aware that I needed prescription medication.

    Know what your triggers are. If you need solitude or silence or not to be touched in certain ways or whatever, you (a) have the right to that in your own home, and (b) have to let people know, they will not magically read your mind and know that when you make that face, you are thinking, “way to send me into a panic attack, roommate evil.” If possible, tell them what your triggers are *before they happen* so it’s easier to frame it as “heads-up, I’m sure this won’t be a problem (because you are a considerate person who is not a sadistic jackass), but just in case, you should know that insert whatever trigger here.” rather than “when you do that, you are a bad person and you make me literally insane.” If you have triggers that would interfere with their reasonable expectations of communal life (I know someone who is freaked right the hell out by strangers in her space, and wouldn’t let her roommate bring friends over EVER. That was not a good roommate sitch.), get your university’s office of disability services involved. They can probably help negotiate a roommate contract.

    You are probably going to have to make some compromises. If you ask your roommate not to do X, you absolutely cannot do X yourself. (Above chick who would not let her roommate bring people back to their place brought one-night stands into the apartment.) If you have particular ways in which your issues manifest which inconvenience other people, you should tell them ahead of time, apologize in advance, and apologize again, preferably in concrete form, if/when it happens. (Like, if you break dishes as a way of expressing stress, apologize, buy new dishes, and do all the cleanup yourself.) This doesn’t mean you’re apologizing for having a chronic illness; it means you’re recognizing how your illness affects others.

    It was really important to me that my home be a safe place for me, and I got lucky with my roommates, but at least some of that was how hard I worked at establishing clear lines of communication and making my disease familiar and not scary for them. It got to the point where they recognized when I was hitting my breaking point and would take my laptop away and say, “go lock yourself in the bathroom and meditate for half an hour, and I’ll bring you some tea after.” I honestly think that’s why I graduated with as high a GPA as I did, because the people around me weren’t adding to my stress. best of luck! ♥

  14. As someone who’s been on both sides of this fence, I think if you’re going to send them an email/letter ahead of time stating this, you may as well humanize yourself and let them know other things about yourself, too. Additionally ask questions to show your interest in them–find out if they’re neat/messy, watch tv frequently, are a night owl or an early bird.. if you define your anxiety/depression as a part of a whole person, so will they. Also: YES to the RA, mine was infinitely helpful with a bully situation my 1st semester. It’s hard to ask for help, but infinitely easier while you’re well! The more I learn to ask for help, the less I seem to need it..

  15. I’ve been there, 19 years old, living in a dorm with anxiety and depression. What I did was mention it to my RA, who would sometimes check up on me if he noticed I was acting a bit off. At my uni RAs are specifically trained in mental health first aid – that is that they know how to help if you’re dealing with a crisis or need someone to talk to.

    Depression and anxiety are so prevalent these days that when you do mention it you might find that your roomie has dealt with it themselves or knows someone who has dealt with it. I agree with the other posters, be as open about it as possible.

    My one condition is that I just wouldn’t mention it as a disclaimer when you move in, mention it when it comes up. It becomes your defining characteristic otherwise (particularly to the uninformed): “my roomie who has depression”.

  16. My former housemate had depression and told me early on. She brought it up one day and let me know that she had it under control. But if things get not-great, that’d be the reason why.

    Two years into our living together she decided to come off her medication (in consultation with her doctor) and let me know about it. She asked me to let her know about any changes I’d notice. She’s now medication free, which is a win for her!

    My point is that her telling me made it clear that it was her issue, not mine. It helped me to be aware and sensitive of that issue in her life, without feeling responsible for her. And it wasn’t a big deal to me that she had that problem – she was the one in charge of managing it, not me.

  17. All I can add is that looking back, I wish more then anything I had someone in my freshman year who cared enough about my condition. My anxiety and depression was caused by my move to college, and as I became withdrawn, my roommate didn’t want to spend time with me. Which made it harder on me.
    If I could go back and tell her, or my second semester roommate, that I have this issue, and that I’m just learning to deal with it, and to not treat me differently because of it (my first semester roommate treated me like I was contagious), i think I would have had a better time.
    so yeah… to reiterate what you already know, tell her.

  18. I was on the roommate side of this my freshman year. She had a number of issues, didn’t take her medication or find a therapist in the area and ended up institutionalized our sophomore year.

    We had a long chat about our personal histories one of the first few days we moved in together and she had some issues, how they were caused (she was in a accident, severe head trauma, which exacerbated her problems)and that she was on medication for them. It was great since it let me know what was up, without making a huge deal of it.

    I didn’t think anything of it until she started acting odd, I asked her what was wrong and she told me she ran out of her meds and hadn’t gotten around to getting more. After that it was pretty obvious to me when she forgot or chose not to take it.

    Don’t make it a huge deal, and take care of yourself. Take responsibility for your own health and get set up with a local doctor and pharmacy as soon as you get on campus.

  19. I’m pretty sure my freshman year roommate hated me. I was super depressed during that time, largely due to being away from my family and having a tough time making friends (but also due to the fact that I have clinical depression). Sometimes even my medication wasn’t enough. The next year, while I was working as an RA (and had my own room) I informed my co-workers that I had depression. I was bad about taking my meds, so I told them that if I seemed off it was perfectly okay to ask me if I was keeping up with my medication. It was always nice when they did, because I knew that people cared.

  20. I too was the roommate. I’m a people pleasing saver and it was worse when I was 19. The one thing I would have asked for is a reminder of what is NOT my responsibilities to worry about. Also some key phrases to signal that she was getting out of hand. Followed up by an emergency call list for me to use.
    There were times she needed help, I wasn’t qualified, and frankly, I needed to pass finals and not chase her around the streets in a bikini in January. Not exactly a 911 appropriate situation but one a sober adult could have helped.

  21. I would like to add to this conversation, as a person who is in college right now. I have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, which for me really is depression and anxiety. I had a horrible freshman year, but I think it really helped that my roommate knew what was going on. I told her from the beginning, “I have bipolar disorder, and I take medication and see a therapist.” Letting her know what was going on was very important, because when I got really upset she didn’t freak out. Now she and I have been roommates for 3 years and even though we are not two people you would ever expect to get along, we are very close. I wish you luck in your next year of college – I know it can be hard living with a roommate and having mental illness, but I promise it can be done!

  22. Can I just say – this post and the comments have given me the push I needed to finally start dealing with some things. I’ve made an appointment to see someone. I really want to be an easier person to live with, and I can’t pretend I’m coping by myself any more. So – thank you everyone, you’ve made a real difference to me.

  23. I have severe depression (possibly bipolar) with a blotch of anxiety and my coping mechanisms were never the best. I got a lot of gossip about it from a lot of my religious friends (who are extreme cases, btw) but later on I found a friend whos mother has bipolar. And it’s better to tell your roommate that you have a hard time adjusting. It’s a pretty valid excuse, since most people do have a hard time adjusting to college. If you don’t want to get into details, just stick with that. It helps to talk to a therapist that understands that you have a medical condition and you don’t just do things for attention. They can teach you ways to prevent anxiety and possibly refer you if you need medication. Best of luck. 🙂

  24. I’ve actually been a roommate to someone who struggled with depression and anxiety. Unfortunately, she did not have hers under control, nor was she seeking help. I can’t stress enough the “not over-sharing” part of the advice. Nothing makes a living situation more awkward than knowing all of personal nitty-grittys of someone you barely know, especially if the information is unsolicited. And while I do recommend giving your new roommate a heads-up, it can be uncomfortable for both parties if the information comes about suddenly and out of context. Start a conversation with her and drop the information briefly and casually. It was alarming for me when literally the first words my roommate said to me were “Hi, I’m Kate. I just want to let you know right off the bat that I’m going through some severe anxiety and clinical depression.” I kid you not, these WERE her first words to me. However, if we were in the middle of a conversation about meeting new people and starting a new chapter of our lives in college (not difficult chat to start with a new roomie!) and she had casually mentioned that she had some struggles but was working on them, I would have been much more likely to share my own struggles with her and would have felt more comfortable helping her out with hers.

    Remember to try and find a space for yourself, too. Regardless of whether or not you have anxiety and depression, it’s always important to be able to find an hour in the day where you can just relax and center yourself. Living in close quarters, people can easily get on each others’ nerves even if they’re best friends. My freshman year in college, my schedule was different enough from my roommate’s that I could find that time in my room. My sophomore year, I would escape to a comfy chair in the library and watch cartoons on my laptop for my “me time.”

    Good luck!

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