‘Stress’ is probably the most common word used at university, with deadlines building up on top of deadlines, as well as the attempt to still enjoy your experience before jumping into the world of work.
As I enter my final few months at Birmingham City University, I reminisce on my move to the big city from a small village in Leicestershire.
In Jun 2016, before I started university, my mum was diagnosed with breast cancer. Questions were going around my head as to whether starting my course so soon after her diagnosis was the best option, but nevertheless my family supported my decision and I went off to university.
The first couple of months were an absolute whirlwind, moving to a new city, meeting so many new friends, attempting to attend lectures after one too many nights out, and keeping contact with home as much as possible.
In March 2017, my mum lost her two closest friends to cancer in the space of 24 hours. This was probably the hardest period of my life to date, but the bittersweet-ness of my mum loosing her two friends only made her stronger in her battle against the big ‘C’.
However, this is when I started to go downhill. I can only describe it as a blockage of thoughts and feelings; believing my mum didn’t have breast cancer. I hid my issues until it came to breaking point in October 2017. I felt like I had no support around me at university. I felt lonely, down and I didn’t want to leave my bedroom; all I wanted to do was go home. As I said earlier, stress was building up from all the work I needed to complete, but due to the lack of motivation I had, it wasn’t getting done and I wasn’t attending my classes.
Eventually my parents told me to talk to the person I feel most comfortable with at university, which was a course tutor, who suggested signing up to the university's wellbeing service, and I was quickly referred to a counsellor who I saw every week for 5 months, alongside taking antidepressants.
These sessions were amazing as they allowed me to talk about every issue, feeling and worry I had and how to overcome them. The service also provides extenuating circumstances on assignments if they were unable to be completed, and extra time on exams to deduct additional stress. I have progressed and now receive Cognitive Behavioural Therapy once a month which has fundamentally made me learn how to think positively, love myself and comprehend what I have been through within the last three years.
I would say that my university experience has been the hardest three years of my life, but without the support from the wellbeing services, course tutors and friends surrounding me; I would have just given up. I can’t thank them enough.
Author credit: Annabel Wright