This post was written by Georgia, who blogs over at The Lazzzy Student. Here, Georgia shares her personal experience with anxiety and how it was exacerbated by the pressure she put herself under at university.
When I first came to university, I felt great! First year flew by, while I joined loads of clubs and societies, making lots of friends. Unfortunately though, because I was spending so much time on my social life, my grades from my first year were not ideal. I got 2:2’s and 3’s, despite aiming for a 2:1. I was disappointed in myself as I knew that I was capable of more. This is when I started focusing way too much on my grades, forgetting to have fun.
During my second year, I changed my subject from Film and Media/Psychology to just Psychology. I began to realise that I was pretty rubbish at all of the maths involved in Psychology, and despite all of the effort I was putting in, I was getting a 3rd. This was not good enough for my goals, and this is when I began to start putting even more pressure on myself. See the pattern beginning to emerge? I carried on with Film and Media until half-way through third year, but quickly realised that despite my love for the subject, I was under performing in this as well. I can pinpoint this as the exact moment my anxiety started to get progressively worse. I was putting so much pressure on myself academically, that without even realising, I was slowly began to fade away from the things that were causing me joy.
The next step was third year, where I took an extra module and transitioned in to Politics. Studying an extra module was a lot of work, but I was determined to make it work. Politics is what I hope to graduate with in a couple of months’ time. Sure, I am interested in Politics, but the switch was for a 2:1, not enjoyment. I wanted to make my family proud, and taking the only subject I seem to excel at seemed like the only option. Unfortunately, this has factored in to a lot of unforeseen problems, such as my increased anxiety, which I think has been exacerbated by this switch.
I get bad migraines, which used to barely hit me, but now can land me in hospital. The doctor thinks it is linked to stress, amongst other unknown factors. (Unfortunately there is no cure for migraines.) So, with the increase in debilitating migraines has come an increase in absences from my course. It has also caused the final decrease in my ability to stick with my hobbies and see my friends as often as I like. This piled on with my fourth year dissertation being due has allowed me to wallow in self-pity and use as an excuse to become a little lazy. I don’t know whether it is all of this stress solely causing it, but my anxiety has gotten pretty bad this past year. I hate to complain, because aside from a bi-monthly panic attack, I am ok. I know that other people have it worse. But I can’t help but feel like university just was never for me. I never really wanted to go, and I have learned the hard way that studying something you don’t love, or even have more than a veined interest in, is pretty tough. It has taken me a long time to realise that I need to start pulling myself up and stop wallowing!
I am a pretty easily panicked person, and a perfectionist. Something I am working through with my therapist. I put far too much stress on myself, and although university has been the best time of my life, it has also been the very worst time. However, I am thankful for it. I believe that everything happens for a reason, and even bad things lead to a world of good.
So, I can’t despair too much, or feel sorry for myself. Not even for a minute. I met my amazing boyfriend at university, some great friends, and I suppose, looking at it positively, at least now I have found out I definitely don’t want a career in Politics! I have loved the societies I have been a part of, and I’ve found out so much about myself. I have moved away from home, grown as a person and found a love for blogging. I am still working through my anxiety, and I know that it is slowly creeping back in with dissertation deadlines looming. However, I have learned to love myself, which is so important. I am sharing my story because I want you to know that it is okay to feel lost sometimes. I am the perfect example that not everyone has their lives together. Even if people who know me think I always do. Everyone is struggling with something, and we need to support each other, and try to understand that none of us are perfect and we are all just trying.
Never be afraid to seek help for any mental health issues you may face. Seeking help to talk things over with a therapist has been one of the bravest and best things I have done, and I encourage you to do the same if it’s something you are considering. I have begun to feel a lot better about things, and I am learning to manage my stress and stop taking everything so seriously! I know it can be scary, but you are a wonderful human being, and feeling down will never take away from that. Never let someone tell you otherwise. So please, never be afraid to seek help.
If I could pass on any wisdom from my experience of university, it would be this.
Please always do your best to take care of yourself. Practise self-care as much as you can. Keep a routine, it can help ground you and stifle a feeling of hopelessness. Read loads of books, not just the ones on your university course! Meditate at least once a week, and take a road trip at least once a year! Attempt to make new food monthly, and order take out if it turns out rubbish! Laugh all of the time. Hard. Stay off your damn phone! I swear no-one talks nowadays without peering over a screen. Always be doing something that you love. Stop forgetting to live! I promise that you aren’t going to look back and smile about all of the times you tried simultaneously watching tv while you were on your phone! Find a great hobby, and always pick yourself back up after every heartbreak, failed test, bad occurrence. It makes you stronger. Never settle. Be Kind. Love unconditionally.
Georgia is a fourth year Politics student at The University of Stirling. She loves to write about a variety of topics including, but not limited to; study tips that work, decorating on a budget, and cheap but tasty cooking tutorials. You can see more of her on her blog and social media:
To find out more about #TimetoTalk, check out this link and get involved.
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health then please don’t be afraid to reach out and talk to someone. You are not alone and help is available. By opening up and starting the conversation we can move forward together and look to a mentally healthy future. Below are links to a range of fantastic organisations that can provide information, advice and services.
The Samaritans: http://www.samaritans.org
Young Minds: http://www.youngminds.org.uk
Papyrus (prevention of young suicide): https://www.papyrus-uk.org
Self Harm UK: https://www.selfharm.co.uk
Time to Change: http://www.time-to-change.org.uk
Rethink Mental Illness: http://www.rethink.org
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: https://www.afsp.org
Please do not struggle alone.