Friday 29 September 2017

Never Giving Up

Living away from home isn't always easy, especially for those of us who suffer from mental health difficulties. But there are other ways to complete your degree whilst living at home...

- Katie

Hi, I’ll start this off by introducing myself: I’m Katie, a history student at Queen Mary University of London. Oh, and I suffer from GAD (Generalised Anxiety Disorder). As fate would have it, my mental health started deteriorating just before I started my first year at university (I know. Great planning, brain). Let’s just say first year wasn’t exactly a walk in the park for me, but I got help and I got better at dealing with my difficulties.

Of course, mental health issues don’t just disappear: instead, you learn what makes you feel better and what makes you feel worse. By the end of first year, I had realised that what really made me happy was my family. We have always been an extremely close family. Throughout my first year I was coming home every single weekend. Home is where I felt safe.

When first year was finally over and I spent my long summer at home, I found myself dreading the idea of having to start second year and being away from home again. So many of my friends love being at University, having their independence and being able to go out when they want, to eat what they want, and to do what they want – but that’s not me. I even thought about dropping out, but I love my degree. I didn’t want my mental health to dictate my life for me.

So I decided that, for my second year, I would have the best of both worlds (don’t start singing the Hannah Montana theme tune). I would live at home, and complete my history degree, and begin commuting. I live in Norfolk, and it’s a four hour round-trip to and from university, which is one hell of a commute, but I knew that this was the right decision for me. Of course the thought of all that travelling and having to rely on public transport was scary, but as soon as I made that decision, it was like a huge weight had been lifted.

I’m not going to lie: it is a long journey. But I can read, or listen to music or do coursework whilst I travel, and I know that at the end of each day, I’m going back to my home, to my family (and my adorable puppy), and the commute is a small price to pay for all of this.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that mental health issues suck. No one wants them and they have a tendency to flare up at the worst of times, but we can’t let these issues dictate how we live our lives. University is a big deal and so many people experience it differently. Just because I live at home and don’t go out partying every night doesn’t mean I’m not a ‘proper student’. No matter how bad things get, it will always get better and there will always be a way for everyone to do what they want to do. I wanted to complete my degree but I wanted to live at home, and I got used to the commute. For anyone thinking about commuting: just give it a go. You might just find that it is the solution to your university dilemmas, like it was for me. Good luck to anyone who might be reading this, and however you’re feeling right now – anxious, apprehensive, excited – I hope that you keep fighting and never give up.

Hello, I’m Katie, a history student in her second year at Queen Mary University of London. Going to university while living with diagnoses of GAD (Generalised Anxiety Disorder) and OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) can be difficult; I am writing for Student Minds to share my experiences.

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