Purposeful Living

Q: I am a second-year chemistry major, and my grades have dropped from a 3.0 to a 2.3. I aspire to do great things, but I am worried that I have come to a peak in my life. My family is from the Caribbean, so the idea that I may need external help is not received as a good thing. Therefore, I have expressed my feelings of isolation.
— Via the Internet

A: You are just beginning your life. Although it seems difficult to seek assistance outside of your family, that may be the very thing you need. A college environment is the perfect place to renew your spirit. You can go see a counselor, the dean of your major, ask for a tutor, or call a social services hotline at your school. If you’re not comfortable making calls, see what types of services are offered on the school’s Website and go from there.

However, you should understand the seriousness of your condition. In your letter, you speak about feelings of isolation. It sounds like you may be depressed, which can lead to more serious disorders. In fact, in a 2004 survey by the American College Health Association, more than 40% of men and 50% of women reported feeling so depressed it was difficult to function at least once during the year. Therefore, I would strongly advise you to get help now, not later.

Be sure to discuss why your grades are slipping and what can be done about it. Meditation and prayer can be extremely helpful. Pick up the book Guided Meditations: For Calmness, Awareness, and Love (Wildmind Meditation; $14.95) to get you going.