#GirlBlog: How university impacted my mental health

University might not have caused my mental health issues, but it brought them to the surface. It was a painful experience but now I know this was totally necessary to move forward. Here’s my story.

”These will help,” said the doctor who prescribed me anti-depressants. Who actually wants to hold out their hand and accept they have to take those? My inner soul sighed. Where had the old me gone?

Those days of ‘black cloud’ moments were becoming increasingly worrying. Trying to describe the feeling was crazy. It’s an empty void rather than total despair, although those moments had been flitting in and out too. Feeling thankful for my inner support network, I knew I wasn’t in overly terrible danger. Yet, this wasn’t something I could take for granted.

If the pills helped and saw me finish my degree, then why not give them a shot?

According to the Higher Education Statistics Agency, the number of students who disclosed a mental health condition almost doubled between 2012 and 2015 to nearly 45,000.

How had I reached this point? So blue. Not in control of my crazy emotions. I was always the strong one. I had dealt with massive life challenges like single parenthood and breezed through it. So how was I struggling so much with the science I was hoping to learn? Why had it tipped me over the edge?

I reached out, but the help I asked for mostly fell into a vortex of nothingness.

Until the university got involved and put me forward for counselling. Oh goodness, did this bring up some crazy stuff! Not realising those thoughts I had always had were not normal, but in fact  they were anxiety. Then we ended up knowing I was ‘ruminating’ – which was a word I had to Google. It’s a posh word for over-thinking.

Yes that is me. We ended up bringing up a lot of my childhood stuff and how I had been parented. Which is something I still struggle with but I know I can’t change what happened. Only how I now try to tackle it. They were wrong, my parents. They should have told me they loved me and are proud of me, and encouraged my dreams.

Things could have been worse.

Excited to finish my undergrad, I was super ready to step into a less stressful situation with my MA which was a total lifelong dream of becoming a full-time writer. Yet that very first day, familiar feelings came up. Shocked to the core I had to acknowledge the university had been nothing less than perfect and these feelings were totally mine to own.

So now it was about ‘learning to dance in the rain’, knowing there were going to be good times and bad times.

Riding this wave of life. Rollercoaster riding with white knuckles. When I’m up, I’m up. I need to soak those images creating the good memories into a photographic brain to store away and hopefully use as my rocking chair memories.

Knowing that without those down times, life would be flat and unrecognisable in the up times.

After a few years of down moments, I write with joy in saying today is an up day. I smile needlessly with a thought and a stomach flip and these are thoughts I will cherish.

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