Ok, so I have started this too many times to count. It’s not even procrastination as it’s something I actually want to do and volunteered for. My problem is anxiety. That little voice in the back of my mind saying, “But what if they don’t like it? But what if they don’t read it? Why should you bother?” that little voice that’s always been there since I was little but never knew what it was until I came to Uni where it chose to show itself.
Thing is, I’m the type of person who loves to present, who loves to cosplay, who is president (and treasurer) of a society and who loves being the person in charge of everything, a leader, a role model... Someone you look at and go, “they know what they’re doing” and even with anxiety, I can still put on a persona and be what I want to be, confident and happy. I’ve learnt to not let my anxiety get in the way of my life but it wasn’t always like that.
First year at uni...
Most people come to Uni feeling a full mix of emotions, I was no different. Excited, worried, prepared, clueless, optimistic, anxious, lucky... etc. I felt ready to take the next step in my life and the first year in halls was alright other than a few issues along the way such as trips to hospital (one time including me slicing my finger open while cutting pizza) or a major breakup resulting in downing half a bottle of sherry, listening to sad music, running away from friends wanting to know what was up and ending the night laughing at toast (don’t ask). I just put it down to being the university experience as I know of worse stories.
Second year at uni...
It wasn’t until second year that stuff started to go south very VERY fast. I was sharing a house with friends and it started off fine, but after a major problem (and that’s an understatement), everything went wrong and I mean EVERYTHING. Tension in the house, nights spent crying, mental and physical abuse, everyone getting involved in other people’s business, the feeling of isolation, the feeling of emptiness. The thing that I didn’t realise at the time was that other people have a similar experience at uni.
When people are nosey they forget that you’re a person with your own problems that you are trying to get over and you end up feeling like an animal, even if they mean well. Unable to leave your room, caged up by your own mind. Even writing this is leaving me with a lump in my throat. Being nosey is human nature, sure, but in the wrong circumstances can cause more issues. This dragged on for months when it really shouldn’t of. All of this resulted in broken hearts, trips to hospital, police being called out, feelings of hatred and betrayal and finally for me, the odd feeling of Just. Not. Caring. I even stopped giving my parents updates on how I really was, so not to worry them.
I felt like I’d fallen into a very deep black hole with monsters coming out of the darkness to get me. Only one small light, one last hope still remained but that was out of my reach, I couldn’t get it alone and I was too stubborn and scared to ask for help.
After being asked to leave the house one night forcing me to get my parents, who were in England for the week, to drive a 4 hour round trip at 2am to come and get me, I had had enough. Even when I was away from the house I was still involved in the problems which ended up in me realising that I couldn’t be stubborn anymore, I needed help. I couldn’t leave the house due to lack of finances, I had no family in the country that I could stay with and I was determined to pass uni even if it killed me and to be honest it almost did.
The week I got back I went to the Counselling and Wellbeing Service here at uni and I have to say it was like a miracle. They were so helpful and friendly offering me help, advice, even offering to see about deadline extensions. Alongside it I spoke about what I was going through with my GP and she gave me time off work (which wasn’t helping my state at the time) offered me medication and counselling. Now, I am not one for medication, I would rather learn to deal with issues myself than use medication as a crutch. I’m not saying that medication is bad, I personally didn’t want to go down that route.
As for counselling, it took way too long to get an appointment, I was happy with going to the uni councillor. One good thing that came out of the whole doctor experience is that she said I have Anxiety. It may sound strange but it was a relief to be told that it wasn’t just me making up the whole thing like people in the house were saying. It gave me the chance to read up on anxiety and to see how to deal with it. Even though there was still tension in the house, I used skills that my International Business Management course taught me, I used my strength and past experiences to push past it all. Even talking to my parents about my anxiety was a huge step for me and was glad I did as I found out my dad was in counselling for stress related anxiety due to his work, we could work through it together.
A while after that, things started getting better at home. The tension fizzled out, friendships started getting better and life started looking a bit brighter.
Third year at uni...
I am now in my third year. I have moved out of the house and feel so much relief and stronger. I am still in contact with everyone back there and feel happier seeing them weekly compared to 24/7. I still have anxiety and it does still get to me, I do still get triggered, but I know who I am and I know how strong I am. I have family, friends and a wonderful boyfriend who help me on my worst days. Do I regret anything? No. I would never wish it on anyone but I would never want to forget about my experience, I don’t regret it, I learnt from it, I learnt more about who I am.
My advice to anyone with anxiety:
I know it sounds odd but eat balanced meals, it’ll affect your mental health and is something I didn’t know.
At the end of the day, no matter who you are or where you are from, you are stronger than you think and it’s completely fine to admit to yourself or someone that “I am not ok”. If you think you need help, don’t be stubborn like I was at first or scared to seek help, be that talking to family, friends, the SU, university staff, a GP, anyone.
No matter what, you are strong and you can push past any obstacle!
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