I’m sitting in the Accommodation lounge on what I thought would be a lazy afternoon, waiting on my laundry trying to think how to start off my blog. It’s a beautiful day outside and I’m watching other students milling around chatting to each other. I must admit I’m a little jealous, as everyone looks so happy while my brain is running at high speed, the images that flash past remind me of the ‘what ifs’ in my life. Then I remember that at least one person out of all the people I have seen are thinking the same way as me, its just that they hide it better than me.
And before I know it, I’ve got started.
I must admit that my mental wellbeing hasn’t been great for a good few years now and have been under the care of various NHS mental health teams for a while. When I moved into halls in 2017 it was like I was in another world. I mean culture shock was an understatement, I just wasn’t prepared for it, because I had never been in such an alien environment before and I had major issues with trust, I didn’t know who to turn to. So, I used my only coping strategy at the time to retreat into myself, trusting no one who could help me and acting like I was ‘fine’. So, I chose one of the various masks in my Narnian wardrobe and just got on with University life.
At first, I managed to hide my feelings not just from myself but others around me. I was very dismissive of my own opinions and was generally too scared to tell friends what I really thought. As the year continued and each of my masks crumbled to dust with my increasing anxiety/depression I found it ever more difficult to reach out to get help. My friends, PAT and others on the teaching team would keep asking me if I was alright. I would answer that I was ‘fine’ which was my go-to answer even though my head was screaming at me that I wasn’t. I started missing lectures/seminars and getting so behind in my work that I became even more anxious/depressed and distressed, I had impostor syndrome so bad. Thinking that I didn’t belong, and I wasn’t smart enough to be doing a degree.
I was very lucky in the respect that I had a great PAT and even though I went quiet on them for a long period of time, during the first semester and part of the second semester. When I did eventually pick up the courage go to them over my mental health. They were so understanding and non-judgmental, being judged by everybody has always been one of my biggest fears. I could finally take a deep breath and ground myself. I realized that someone had faith in me, to tell me that I hadn’t totally messed up and that I wouldn’t be thrown out of QMU as a disgrace. I had someone I could TRUST, someone that could signpost me to services within QMU, that I could trust in as well.
I must admit that it still hasn’t been an easy ride, it never is when you have issues around your mental health but one thing, I have taken out of last year is to not be afraid to ask for help. Whether its from your PAT, the University Wellbeing or disability service. It could be any of the lecturers that you feel you can trust. This year have been more active in keeping people like my PAT and others that I trust in the loop. I’m no longer ‘just fine’ yes, I have bad days, sometimes there’s more bad than good but instead of hiding from them I try to accept them (which is generally easier said than done) and when that’s not possible I ask for help.
If there’s one thing I would like you to take away from this is that there is no shame to ask for HELP.
One last point, being Eeyore is a good thing but only when you let others you trust be there for you.
* Anne is a pseudonyme