“You are not alone” is a phrase we hear so often in response to people experiencing a difficult time but for the people currently in that period it can be a hard thing to believe.
For me, I never realised how easy it could be for negative thoughts to swallow you whole and leave you in a low state you think is impossible to fight through. But that’s exactly what happened to me when I left home for university.
When I was first unpacking my new room in halls I was very excited. I couldn’t wait to begin my course and meet new people. Living in halls would be great too; independence from parents and a whole space to yourself, what’s not to love? The first day kept my excitement up, the homesickness hadn’t hit me and I felt ready. The second day was a different story. After sauntering around my new flat I remember looking out a window in the kitchen and everything just hit me at once. Homesickness. Dread. Worry. Anxiety.
My anxiety issues are something I’ve only recently managed to accept as a part of myself. I always knew I was a worrier but I felt almost guilty claiming I had anxiety since I hadn’t been properly diagnosed by a professional. Earlier in the year I had gone through a long period of heightened anxiety following overworking which really affected both my mental and physical health. I didn’t feel like what I was going through was serious enough for help (spoiler: it was) so I refused to work through my issues properly. I just waited for it to pass, allowing room for them to come swarming back.
For weeks I hit a low point. It affected my workflow, made me physically ill. I was too anxious to eat and I was constantly upset. It was then, however, that a determination sparked within me. Enough was enough. Following talks with my wonderful family and friends, (particularly for me; dad, my close roommate and my partner) I formed a plan of self help where I focussed on recognising the signs of anxiety or overthinking and working to avoid falling into a loop of them.
Meditation also helped me. It sounds weird and daunting but it’s a lot more simple than it seems. It’s not for everyone but for me, taking 10 minutes out of my day to breathe and let go of racing thoughts was a blessing. As time went on I was able to recognise when anxiety was creeping up and work on squashing it before it even began.
I now realise how important it is to have proper coping methods in place to help you when your in low place. I finally stuck a pin in that name and identified my main issue: Anxiety.
My university life has improved greatly, I have friends, societies and an interesting course to occupy my time. University can be daunting for almost everyone no matter how it may seem, so no matter why or when you’re struggling make sure to remember: “You are not alone”.
I, and many others are right there with you. Make sure to speak out.