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

Posted by

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 Most people with overactive anxiety put off a vibe when they’re feeling upset — some are snappish, some are withdrawn, some drink a lot.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. Please forgive me if this very dramatic or considered drama. I am a depressed late 20’s male with injured/very weak leg for months (unknown reasons after many tests) causing much discomfort. I want to hear any advice about communicating with my new two mid 20’s European female roommates as of last month about my depression and severity/frustration with my leg. I wish could just give them some type of hints non-verbally that I am depressed preferably but may consider verbally with some guidance what to say if it would be much more beneficial? They only very briefly talk to me and only been in Canada for a year although they speak fairly good English. I wish they would talk to me bit more and anything else to help my mood but I don’t wanna be pushy or over worry them. Bit worried them not them knowing or understanding they are gonna get mad about anything unrelated, which could be avoided if they know how I feel. I don’t think they know I am depressed at all and very unsure about how much if any they understand my issues with my leg although they have seen my cane and me limping at least few times. Bit of frustration recently with them talking loudly early in morning when I am sleeping still and feel like I am getting bit lack of sleep. Very unsure what to say exactly about talking, after told them to watch wear they place shoes to trip or step on them in our narrow entrance and they have not totally changed after told them twice.

Read more comments

Comments are closed.