Life in college brings many fun and fascinating times, yet also carries with it many struggles, stresses and hardships. For many college students, it feels as if these challenges are causing them to sink, and they struggle just to get through the week.
This was the case for Leigh Carson who decided to withdraw from Northwestern in the fall of 2013 after being diagnosed with clinical depression.
“I wasn’t really angry with God when this was all happening,” Leigh said. “It was more, What this depression was supposed to mean? What could I learn from this? ‘What was there to gain through all this yuckiness?’”
One afternoon after a therapy session, Carson said she cracked open her Bible to a random passage and landed on Matthew 14:22-33, the story of Jesus walking on water.
“After reading that passage, it was very much an answer to prayer, realizing that all I really need is faith,” Carson said.
When Carson arrived back on campus this past fall, she began to talk to other people and realized that there were several others who had gone through similar experiences. After a conversation with a close friend, she was inspired to start The Waves Project to help struggling students with depression.
“The Waves Project is a group where people can come and talk about issues regarding living a faith-based life,” Carson said. “It’s a place where people can talk about the stress of being at school and also the anxiety that comes with that and how we’re supposed to deal with those in a healthy way in a relationship that is based on faith.”
Carson went to NW Chaplain Harlan Van Oort and bounced the idea off him shortly after winter break.
“This is a student-led initiative,” Van Oort said. “This is a good idea that a student is organizing. It is a group that is seeking to support one another through some challenging times in their lives, and trying to be encouraging and supportive of each other. I think it’s just a marvelous idea.”
From this project, Carson said she hopes that students will be able to learn to incorporate faith into their daily lives and to offer up their struggles to God. She also said she hopes that students will learn to listen to other peoples’ stories and be an advocate for those who are not yet ready to speak out about their struggles.
“I would encourage people to come to The Waves Project as a first step of ‘coming out of the boat,’” Carson said. “The meetings are a good time to take a break and be in community with people who are going through the same struggles. I think it’s important letting people know they are not alone in their struggles.”
“It just feels to me that this is how the body of Christ is to work,” Harland said. “It just feels correct. We are not meant to walk in faith alone, but rather together and that is what this project is all about.”
The Waves Project meets at 9p.m. every Thursday in the basement of the learning commons. A Facebook page is also being used to send updates on meeting times.
“I would encourage anybody who has questions about the group to talk to me, or Harlan,” Carson said. “If the issues of depression or anxiety are difficult for you to talk about, I’d encourage you to go to the counseling services here on campus or talk to me, someone who has dealt with the same issues. Don’t keep it to yourself.”