*This post is super long, if you can’t be bothered to read the entire thing then skip to my overall bit at the bottom. I have’t really proof read either so I apologise for any mistakes in advance.*
This post is going to be very hard to write and I’m going to try and make it sound as undramatic and uncringe as possible. I want to try and write what I have been living with for God knows how many years without the specifics in the hope that it will help someone else.
My memory is awful but I know I had anxiety at least from 17 as I went to a psychologist for CBT. This was utterly crap. The woman who saw me was the most patronising woman I have ever met and I wanted to punch her in the face every session I went to so I decided to stop going. A few weeks later, a letter appeared at my house addressed to me and it was a personal letter from this woman talking about how she feels I should go back and basically mentioned loads of things I had discussed with her. This wound me up so much because everything that I was feeling anxious over was now in this letter on this piece of paper that anyone could have opened and read. I shredded it and cried.
Jumping to a year later when I joined university, my anxiety was still there and I remember getting right up to the student counsellor’s door and just walking away believing I was stupid. This happened at least four times before I finally went in my third year. During my time at university I went to see a few different gp’s who would give me numbers to call people for counselling or CBT but nothing ever worked out. I would think that I was just being stupid.
My second year was the hardest. I didn’t get on that great with the people I was living with, my uni course was getting ridiculously hard and I think this was the year where I started to feel really depressed. I was having huge breakdowns where I was would scream and lash out at my fiancé, scratch my face and punch my head in full force. It sounds absolutely ridiculous, trust me I know, but it happened and it was bad. In March 2016 during my second year my Nan suddenly passed away. We found out three weeks before that she had cancer and I was travelling to and from uni to see her. My Nan would be lying in her hospital bed unable to do anything and I would be worried about my next uni deadline. I just needed time to stop. I was close with my Nan, she was basically my second Mum so this hit me really hard and I still can’t believe she’s not here now.
I can’t put into words how I felt other than completely broken. People were saying how strong I was keeping it together but I wasn’t strong, I was depressed. I felt either numb or just pure pain with what was going on around me.
A few months later I took my exams and failed two. This meant I needed to retake in the summer, meaning no time off for me. No time to mourn my Nan, no time to stop and take in everything that was happening. I passed one exam and failed the other again but this was enough to get me into my third and final year. Whilst also revising for my summer exams I had a summer job and once my exams were over I had two weeks of ‘summer’ which I spent working 11 hour days, 5-6 days a week.
At some point in my second year, I did go onto the waiting list for the counselling service at university. I finally got an appointment after weeks of waiting and it was a disaster. This woman made me feel stupid and she spent more time talking in the session than I did so I never went back.
Third year starts and I get so depressed that I go to the gp and I just ask them to put me on anything, any tablets that were going to help. I didn’t mention this before but my parents didn’t really agree with antidepressants saying they’re awful for you and addictive so whenever I went to the gp I always refused medication believing the same thing. One day it just got too much, I didn’t want to be alive anymore. I knew I loved my fiance and family but I couldn’t feel it. I was just angry or sad all the time. Talking to people became a huge effort, I would find myself laughing and realising that it was fake. I broke down in front of this doctor and I started on 10mg of Citalopram for anxiety and depression. The side effects weren’t significant I just got the shakes in my hands and legs but it wasn’t awful. This didn’t really help me much and after a month or two I went up to 20mg and this is the dose I am still on now.
I didn’t notice anything change right away but I realised after a while that I didn’t find myself wanting to just lie on my bed staring at a wall doing nothing. I felt better in a way but it was more like a blanket had been put over my issues so I knew it was still there and sometimes it would come back but never as bad.
I applied for counselling, went to the first assessment session and it went amazingly. The lady was so nice and made me feel super comfortable so I then went onto the waiting list to see the next available counsellor. Well bloody hell it turned out to be that same woman. I didn’t realise at first but she recognised me and it was super awkward. After that I wasn’t going to go back but then again there’s so many other counsellors, surely I can ask to change? So I called up the counselling service and explained what happened and at first they didn’t know what to do cause it’s rare for someone to request a change but I went back on the waiting list for someone else.
Finally, I met someone I could actually work with, she was super lovely and not at all patronising. So the point of this little tale here is, if you go to counselling and it doesn’t work out, don’t be embarrassed to ask for someone else. At the end of the day, you have to do what’s best for you and I’m so glad I did because my counsellor helped me a lot.
Fast forward to February 2016. It wasn’t a great month for me, I was missing lectures, I was struggling to do work and I was getting depressed again. I didn’t even know what the days were or what time it was and because of this I missed two counselling sessions completely by accident and had to go back on the waiting list. So the time I actually needed it the most it was taken away from me (it’s ridiculous in my opinion but then again it gave someone else the chance to see a counsellor).
The end of my third year was a total disaster. Even though I started counselling again with the same woman, the doctor wanted to up my meds but I didn’t want to and my uni course just got too much. I didn’t want to do it, I had absolutely no idea what was going on, my housemates kept me up late most nights and I found myself watching Netflix all day everyday from my bed.
So I basically failed my final year and I was given the option to internally retake. *Side story. If you’re going through anything that is affecting your studies make sure you let the university know whether it’s through your welfare tutor or just your standard tutor. If you’re not sure who to go to then I’m sure there will be loads of info on your University’s website. If you let the university know in advance and then you fail exams or you miss coursework you may be given extensions on deadlines or the option to retake.* This meant that I wouldn’t have to do my project again or one 10 credit module as I passed those. Initially I was like hell to the no. There’s no way I am going back, I hate university and I hate this course. Well a few days later I accepted their offer in the hope that three months off will help me sort my life out.
So here I am, nearly three months later, preparing for my final year of university (again). I feel so much better than what I did this time last year. I’m moving into a two bedroom flat with someone who hopefully won’t get on my tits (hi Josh if you’re reading this 😉 ), I’m feeling so much happier and I’ve been so busy this summer seeing all my friend’s and just living my life really. However, as university gets closer I’m getting more and more anxious because I don’t want to feel as low as I used to, I want to be able to work and get my degree.
So, here’s what I plan on doing to not get myself into the same situation as previous years:
- I’ve decided to stay on my antidepressants until my degree is over as coming off them will be a big adjustment and I don’t want to have to worry about that.
- Join a sport of some sort to keep me active. Nothing that is going to take too much time or become a huge investment, maybe badminton or something.
- Attend every single lecture, even those 9am’s. Get into a routine so that even on the days where I don’t have a 9am I’m still waking up early.
- Don’t be worried to go to the lecturers to ask for help. Yeah, they may look at me like I’m completely stupid but I don’t care.
- Keep focused on the future. Keep up with my blog and get into my engagement/wedding scrapbook.
- Also get a job because I am so poor. Plus it will give me something that I actually have to get up and go to.
- Don’t be ashamed about how you’re feeling, you’re not being stupid. No matter how cringe or embarrassed it makes you feel, go to your GP/university services/anyone and tell them how you feel. YOU ARE NOT BEING SILLY.
- If you don’t want to go on antidepressants, that’s absolutely fine but don’t be so adamant that you’re not going to take them if you really do need them. I really didn’t want to go on them but it’s probably the best decision I could have ever made. BUT everyone is different and some people don’t need them at all. There’s CBT and counselling and there’s even a self help section on the NHS website here.
- If you’re at University, tell someone what you’re going through in case you need help with deadlines or just any support further down the line.
- If you try counselling and you hate your counsellor, don’t feel bad about wanting someone different. You need someone who you feel you can open up to otherwise there is no point.
- I just want to emphasise that YOU ARE NOT STUPID FOR HOW YOU ARE FEELING. You can’t help how you feel and you are definitely not alone. Get the help you need and fuck what anyone else thinks.
So yeah, I’m sorry this post was ridiculously long but I just wanted to get everything out there. Congratulations if you’ve made it to the bottom!