By Judy Berman
What would you do if you were tossed ashore on an uninhabited island and you were the sole survivor of a plane wreck? Or, you were on your own and had no one to turn to when you needed help?
- One of my classes just finished reading Gary Paulsen’s “Hatchet.” Brian Robeson, 13, was on his way to visit his father when the pilot of his plane has a heart attack, and the plane crashes in the Canadian wilderness.
- Everyday stresses that most of us just shrug off are overwhelming for many college students who are living away from home for the first time. One college in Orlando, Florida, is trying to help students cope with and overcome these challenges.
Those two scenarios would seem to require different skill sets to survive. In some ways, it doesn’t.
Brian was the only passenger on the single-engine plane. The plane plummeted into a lake on a remote island, and he lost radio contact with anyone who might be able to help.
He’s alone. All alone. He survived. But as he takes in the vast forest, he can’t help but wonder for how long.
Brian has only his hatchet and the clothes on his back. He needs shelter, food, fire and the will to continue until help arrives.
In time, he finds a way to fend off wild animals, keep mosquitoes at bay, hunt, fish and eat something other than berries until he is rescued nearly two months later.
For college students, the basic needs that Brian faced have already been met. Their challenges, during their first semester away from home, are not having the support system they had at home
When the going got tough at home, they knew they could rely on their parents. Or they could turn to friends that they’d grown up with.
Now, they’re on new turf at college. When a relationship ends badly, some feel it’s the end of the world and threaten to harm themselves.
Breakups can be devastating. I recall my first time on my own and crying buckets when my boyfriend broke up with me. One of my best friends came over to cheer me up … and … I moved on.
Something I hope all can do when they’re faced with a setback.
Here are some coping skills that could be helpful when things are down:
- Reach out for help. Sometimes, you just need to connect with someone who is a good listener.
- If you are feeling depressed or overwhelmed, talk to a teacher, a school counselor or someone who deals in crisis intervention.
- Try not to isolate yourself as it only makes the depression worse. Get up and out, and involved in something positive.
- Cultivate supportive relationships – ones that will help bring you up.
- Learn to recognize and express your emotions. This will help you be flexible and bounce back.
- Here is a link to HelpGuide.org for more information: http://www.helpguide.org/articles/depression/depression-signs-and-symptoms.htm
Do you have any suggestions to help people cope when they’re depressed and/or alone? Please add them in the comments along with any setbacks you were able to overcome.
Main Photo: Cover of movie “Cry in the Wild” based on Gary Paulsen’s novel “Hatchet.”
Photo: American cartoonist – William Steig’s illustration of “People Are No Damn Good”
Photo: Dancing – taken by Jesus Solana, Madrid, Spain – April 6, 2009 http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/fa/2010_-_A_year_plenty_of_Hopes.jpg/640px-2010_-_A_year_plenty_of_Hopes.jpg