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What is it Like Being a College Student With PTSD?

Discussion in 'General' started by Anna5, Sep 30, 2007.

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  1. Anna5

    Anna5 Active Member

    I am a college student and have PTSD. I find going to school challenging and have special accommodation. I just want to find out from others what there experience is like. I know I am not the only one facing the challenges of going to college and have PTSD.

    For my english class I am doing an investigation paper on PTSD in young, college-age students.

    What is your experiences/challenges you face going to college?

    Does the college you are going to make special accommodation for you?

    What specific aspects of PTSD affect a college student?

    Any information that you have will be helpful.

    Also what questions would a general, college educated people have about PTSD? In my paper I have to an investigator coming up with the who, what, where, when and how question and then answer them. Having the common sense questions, would help drive my paper.
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  3. becvan

    becvan Queen of the Blunt! Premium Member

    Hi anna, welcome to the forum.

    I made it through college but had to drop out of University. I think where you are at in the healing process makes all the difference. I was in denial while I was in college but had just started healing and therapy in University.

    All aspects of PTSD affect everything IMHO. Also Not many people can even get a proper diagnosis to have special accommodations. It took twenty years to get mine.

    There are many students on the forum though. I'm sure you will get lot's of replies.


    BTW: if you are looking for an age specific, please state what ages. College and University accepts all ages. I went to college in my late twenties and early thirties. There are many adult students now-a-days. Is there a reason you have for excluding them?
  4. Anna5

    Anna5 Active Member

    I am 29 years old and I go to a University.

    bec you did make a good point about the age range. I am insterested in any age of students attending college/university and the challenges they faced. Whether they were diagnosed or not. By getting feedback from others in this group then I know where to focus the age range at and other aspects of my paper at.
  5. becvan

    becvan Queen of the Blunt! Premium Member

    Ahh thanks that cleared that up!

    BTW, good for you for going!!
  6. kers

    kers I'm a VIP

    I didn't know I had PTSD until last year, so I went through college knowing something was wrong but not understanding what. I wish I had known then, to save myself a lot of heartache and self-hate.

    What is your experiences/challenges you face going to college?

    I remember being so tired when I was in school. I'd be up with insomnia/fear until 5am and then go to class at 8. Studying was hard because sometimes it was so hard to focus because so much was going on inside me. I can normally focus quite well, for long stretches of time, but when my symptoms are going...forget it. I felt like something was wrong with me since I couldn't concentrate the way my friends could.

    It also made social life difficult!

    Does the college you are going to make special accommodation for you?

    Wasn't relevant then, since I didn't know my problems had a name. Now, I still go to school, but manage myself quite well so no one needs to know about my PTSD.

    What specific aspects of PTSD affect a college student?

    I think the nightmares are a big one, since sharing a dorm room is such a challenge. I kept myself up quite often and would sleep in lobbies, etc. to avoid getting into a deep sleep when roommates were around. Also, my concentration was very short so my academic performance was a challenge. My self-esteem was awful so I was highly critical of myself while being very demanding. I graduated with every honor I could earn but still felt like a failure. And my social life was affected by everything that affects even an adult's life...intense fear of closeness with others, deeply suspicious, etc. It made making friends a challenge.
  7. grace5555

    grace5555 Well-Known Member

    I am 32 and had to go to online classes only because of the severity of the PTSD. I cannot live in the dorms for the same reason. Even online classes have me to the edge and I don't know how much longer I can do it. I miss deadlines, etc., not even knowing what day it is. I think the university would make accommodations for me if I was to reveal the PTSD but that isn't safe for me. Hope that helps...

  8. Anna5

    Anna5 Active Member


    Mine is similar I do have low self esteen and highly critical of myself and very demanding. Even though I am in five hounor societies, I still don't feel smart. The challenges I face when I am in a warm classroom, put on the spot can be triggering for me. If my stress/anxiety level level is high I become more reactive. I know that I have to make sure I get a certain amount of sleep every night. I have to take my test outside the class in a quiet distraction free environment that way my anxiety can be reduced and can take my time on the test. As for taking notes in class, I am absolutly terrible at taking notes..it is hard interprete what the instructor is saying onto paper.
  9. cactus_jack

    cactus_jack Well-Known Member

    I have tried college, but back when I was willing to "confess" about my mental limitations, I got no accommodations. The last time I tried school I refused to tell them anything "new" about my impairments, they already knew enough, and they refused to enroll me. A cumulation of issues, really. They don't approve of my Christianity-based religion, then they don't approve of my reluctance to disclose my impairment's details.
    SO because of my quest to retain my privacy, I can't attend college. Boy, isn't THAT quaint.

    If you can find a college that accepts you anyhow, no matter your impairment, I wish you the best of luck.
  10. No-Twitch-Tabitha

    No-Twitch-Tabitha Well-Known Member

    Hello, Anna5;

    I was diagnosed with PTSD long after I'd left college, though, looking back, I'd say I started manifesting the symptoms and behaviors at the age of 11 when I first became "depressed". My old sister tells me that my personality changed seemingly overnight.

    Anyway, I went into college right after high school and I suppose I had a normal enough existence -- on the surface. I wasn't ready to deal with my childhood and adolescent traumas at the time so I spent a good deal of time "going out", experimenting with sex and alcohol, and when I wasn't doing that, I was studying.

    My father has End-Stage Renal Disease, so I came home during my sophomore year (1997) to help her care for him. I had my first nervous breakdown shortly after I came home, bacterial meningitis that summer and into fall, and my mother died that October, as I started my junior year. I had to take on my father's care by myself, so whatever I was going through had to be sublimated so I could take care of him. I worked full-time, attended school full-time, what time I had left was caring for Dad, and going out when I could. I finally turned his care over to a half-brother (who stuck him in a nursing home, the bastard) and moved out on my own.

    Tried to go back to school and work, and by this time, the nightmares and flashbacks started. I knocked it back with drink.

    I have always been extemely private and a loner, so I hated living in student housing (like they make you do when you're a freshman). I couldn't wait to move out of the dorms. Too much noise, too much commotion, and not knowing how safe you really are (not very).

    I completed my schoolwork admirably enough, but I remember dissociating when I had to do anything public or whenever I was put on the spot. I remember having OBEs while doing speeches for Oral Communication! If I stayed in my body, I would have fainted. My self-esteem was in the crapper, which is why I drank and indulged in more "sensual encounters" than I would have had I any more self respect.
  11. Zamboni

    Zamboni Active Member


    I attended university and had a terrible time. I couldn't focus or I wouldn't be able to grasp concepts. My mind would just shut off. I felt stupid. But I started to figure out how I learned and to try and cope. I had to retake several classes and got straight A's. It is still hard at times...

    I thought I had ADHD. Dyslexic (sorry).

  12. Seeking_Nirvana

    Seeking_Nirvana I'm a VIP

    Hi, I went to college in 1994 after completing 2 years of therapy to get out of my OCB disorders. Over eating, anorexia, drinking, and shop lifting. I did considerably well maintaining 3.8 GPA. Then I was in a car accident and fractured my skull with brain hemorrhaging, and 6 other injuries that made me stay in the hospital for one month. I lost my memory for a month and it took about 4 months to remember most things. I have short term memory even worse after the wreck than before it.

    It took one year before I felt Ok and went back to school against the doctor's orders. I flunked all my classes the first two quarters.

    Finally, I started doing better in remembering and my grades went back up and was getting 3.2 GPA, but the PTSD kicked in. I didn't know I had it back then.

    I spoke to several teachers to let them know I couldn't sleep at night and was having nightmares due to the rape when I was 15. Some helped me out by letting me take my tests when I could, and turn in my home work late with no penalties, and others didn't care.

    I managed to graduate with my associate degree in the Paralegal Filed with a minor in Business Administration. The week of final exams my father was murdered and it took 3 months before I was able to take the final exams. But I did it, then had a nervous breakdown. Timing!

    I waited about a year and went to a university to get my bachelors degree, and completed all of my electives, but came to an impasse and didn't know what I really wanted to do considering I couldn't hold a job more than 3-4 months.

    For a while I felt going to school was a waste of my time and money (25,000 in debt from student loans) because I can't hold a job, and now going on disability. However, during this healing phase I'm going through now, I've realized that it was a wonderful experience. I learned a whole lot, and I actually completed something worthwhile even though I can't use it.

    I think you can complete college. It would be nice to find out which teachers will understand your situation and help you like they did me. Just be careful in knowing which ones you can trust. Try to stay away from your triggers as much as possible and just go into it with positive thinking that "You Can Do It"

    Good Luck and I hope this info helps you in some way.
  13. Anna5

    Anna5 Active Member

    What specifically was it about college/unversity that you had problems with? What was it like sitting in class? small? Large classrooms?
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