Monday 27 March 2017

Coping with Anxiety at University

Jasmine talks about her battle with anxiety whilst at University

I am a very anxious person and occasionally, when things get too much – say I get a bad grade or deadlines are piling up I’m prone to having a bit of a breakdown. Yes, I did consider this as a con when deciding to move away from home for University, but at the end of the day, my love for trying new things and the University that I chose overcame these cons. 

I’m relatively independent; I like alone time and I’ve never been one of those people that has to rely on their parents 24/7, so during the first month of University my anxiety never really got the best of me. However, when my required reading started piling up and I began getting grades back and realising the extent of how hard University can be, I then realised how far away from home I really was. Breakdowns aren’t a new experience for me, between GCSE’s and A Levels and the surge of hormones you’re gifted with during adolescence, I’ve had more of them then I can count, but usually I have my support system around me to calm me down. Back at home I could go to my mum for a hug, or meet up with my friends for a relaxed outing to distract me from my thoughts. However, being in a new place, I didn’t think I was close enough to anyone yet to reveal the “anxious mess” that I could occasionally become.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d made friends and I wasn’t alone at all, but we’d only known each other for a few weeks and I didn’t feel it was appropriate so show up at someone’s door crying and asking for a hug and some support. However, late one evening, after a horrible day consisting of dealing with a panic attack alone in my room, I decided to join everyone for a night out and take my mind off things. It’s University, I’ve been out a lot, but going out on this night in particular is probably one of the best things I could have done. On the way to the club I started getting into an emotional (granted, slightly alcohol fuelled) conversation with a girl from my halls about how rough my week had been only to have her turn around and tell me she’s experienced the same thing so many times! Words can’t describe how much of a relief it was having somebody tell me they understood what I was going through and were there for me. To this day whenever I’m feeling low or stressed I know I can go to her for a hug and a hot chocolate and she knows that she can do the same, and it’s made dealing with University away from home so much easier.

I cannot stress how important having some sort of support system is. Feeling alone whilst anxious or stressed is a horrible feeling, and it will only get worse if you feel the need to hide your anxiety and stress from people. I’m not saying that you should shout it from the rooftops and load your problems onto every single person that you meet, but you’d be surprised how much sharing your issues could help you in the long run. Now, having completed my first term at University, I would say I have 5 to 6 people that I know I could go to in tears, free of judgement and have them listen and help me, and it’s such a reassuring feeling. None of that could have happened if I hadn’t felt like I could share my issues with those around me.

University is tough. You’re away from home and courses are difficult, it’s okay to have the occasional panic or down day, but my advice to you is to build yourself a support system. It could be one person, or it could be 20 people – it’s different for everybody but make sure that you have someone! Trust me, it can make all the difference.

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