Well what can I say, I am crazy! I am a little bit mental……
Well that is what I thought when I was sitting upright in the middle of the night sweating, heart racing. In fact, it was so bad I felt motion sickness most of the time, I could feel the earth move underneath me and it was certainly not a good thing!!
I worked really hard to get to Uni and I love it! Let’s be honest I think we can all agree to the most part stage one is not that bad…
But I started to get tired working 40 hrs a week on top of full time study and having a family; I felt guilty. I was going to work at 7am then running (yes, physically) to lectures 15 minutes late, then back to work 15 minutes late – until eventually my body kept running even when I was stood still. I was nervous and on edge a lot of the time, it was picked up by some people but brushed off as just a temporary state. You see, I am a very ‘outgoing confident person who is super amazing at being able to do all of this stuff… it must get stressful’!
How many of you have seen the stress questionnaires flying around? How many of you have picked them up with your friends and laughed a little (because Uni is stressful for everyone right?) How many have thrown it down, making a mental note to grab it later when nobody is watching?
I probably would have done the same thing if I was even turning up to lectures. I was becoming unable to cope with anything, I could not sit still for a second without my mind racing to all the things that were on my to-do list. Many will have seen me sitting at the back of the lecture theatre next to the exit because of it!!
I couldn’t concentrate on anything. I would take days to complete an assignment writing it out 5-6 times before typing it up for fear I was wrong. Anxiety is not just sweaty palms and elevated heart rate like most of society believes… for me it was confusion, the fear of losing control, fear of the fear itself. Feeling like you’re walking around with invisible heavy books on your head or a hand around your throat, constantly pinching myself to bring me back to reality, but mostly living hell on earth thinking you are going a bit mad.
I received lots of support from my tutor, as well as other teaching and non-teaching members of staff. I was pointed in the direction of the learning gateway where I was encouraged to speak to the listening post who in turn put me forward to counselling.
Now I was mortified at the prospect, I certainly wasn’t going to shout about it. I decided to go along and continued to go along, and here I am feeling much better about my uni experience. My attendance is 100% better and I understand much more of what I am learning. I was put forward for disability assist who got me financial help to get technology to help me organise my thoughts a bit better, and a separate room to do my exams because the thought of sitting in the pavilions scared me half to death. My counsellor once said to me “when you first sat opposite me, you told me you didn’t know why you were here because you are a strong positive woman”. Guess what I am, but I am not immune to the stress and the strains of life, no one is.
The learning gateway is open all of the time as it is a drop in service, alternatively if this is too daunting you can self-refer online. Take it, it’s free! You won’t have to wait as long as you do elsewhere. From my experience, talking to someone is like decluttering your mind as you would your bedroom, taking all of the stuff and assessing whether you really need it.
Take care of your mental health! Talk about it. It’s not easy, but look I have.
Zoe Higgins, stage 4
Anytime advice and mental health helpline – 0800 042 0134