Saturday 11 November 2017

Taking a Breather

Yasmeen talks about the struggle of maintaining self-confidence whilst pursuing your dreams, and how it's all about balance when it comes to surviving university.
            - Yasmeen 

‘If you were born with the weakness to fall, you were born with the strength to rise. Give yourself credit for how far you've come.'

I remember it like it was yesterday; all of the excitement and nerves that built up inside of me when I found out that I had been given a place at University to study Adult Nursing back in 2015. An overwhelming feeling. A mixture of every emotion. Then, a few months into my degree, I was diagnosed with clinical depression and generalized anxiety disorder. I had just started to embark on probably the biggest journey of my life and now I was full of many doubts. Could I make it through the whole 3 years whilst battling my own demons? Why was I feeling like this now? I had wanted to study Adult Nursing for as long as I could remember. Where had all my self-belief gone?

According to the Higher Education Statistics Agency, the number of students dropping out of university due to a mental health condition has trebled in the more recent years; between 2014 and 2015, a staggering 1,180 students left university early. I know this because I like to do my research to see how many people have actually acted on my daily thoughts. I was a lot more determined in my first year to prove myself wrong. Now I have just gone into my third year, and I feel like I’ve hit a wall. I feel like I’m struggling more than ever at the moment, with my anxiety taking over significantly. I struggle with social anxiety a lot where I find it hard being around too many people at a single one time- I have on many occasions been sat in a lecture theatre surrounded by all of the regular faces of the members of my cohort and felt like I needed to escape. My palms go sweaty and my heart starts racing and suddenly everything feels like a blur. I am trying to change my mindset towards my education, as I have felt on several occasions that I have wanted to quit and give up, to drop out and focus on myself and my health- but I am determined not to let my anxiety get in the way of achieving my dreams. A quote that I have always loved goes as follows: "The temptation to quit will be greatest just before you are about to succeed”- and I feel like that is my motivation to continue because I am so close!

Tips on dealing with mental health at University: 
  Ø  Use your universities support system! Take advantage of the available support that your university has to offer you. Whether that be a mental health wellbeing team or a counselling service. Having somebody to talk to at university can be useful.
  Ø  Do not be afraid to tell your lectures/tutors/mentors that you are struggling. These staff are trained at supporting students who have personal issues. They might be able to give you some additional academic support.
  Ø  Do not push yourself further than your limits. If you feel that your mental health is having a down period, do not feel guilty for taking a breather or a break from any work you may have to do. Giving yourself a break will allow yourself to work better in the long run.

I think the hardest part for me is finding a balance; a balance between looking after myself, my mental health, as well as putting my all into my degree and finding time for personal commitments. My mental health has taken over my life in more ways than imaginable. It has stripped me of my confidence and has affected my academic abilities. I feel as though I cannot function like I used to; I lack in concentration and motivation. It is such a huge battle, and nothing is more difficult than trying to better yourself whilst still trying hard to achieve your goals. I guess my main message is that it's ok to take time to breathe. Your degree is only a small number of years, but your mental health is life long. Your grades will never be more important than your health, and I hope anybody else experiencing what I am going through realizes this. Prioritise yourself and your success will follow!

 Hi, my name is Yasmeen and I am 21 years old. I was born and raised in East London and I am currently in my final year of studying Adult Nursing at London South Bank University. I have been suffering with Anxiety and Depression for around 2 years now and I see it as my goal to raise awareness about mental health, to change the stigma towards mental illness and to get people talking! Blogging my experience is a way for me to deal with my own problems and hopefully write about things that people can relate too.  

If you are considering taking time out of university due to mental health issues, speak to the student services and/or your academic tutors. 

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