Sometimes depression doesn’t start at uni but resurfaces at uni. D. talks about her depression stemming from childhood trauma…

“My depression stemmed from childhood trauma , followed by a break up and being in intensive care for four months. After coming out of hospital and returning to uni after a year out to recover , I realised I couldn’t do things as before.. I suffered mild memory loss and gaps in my concentration and ability to do my work which triggered a depressive episode. The group of people I had started uni with had progressed so I didn’t have my usual close friends to share how I was feeling with and was away from my normal health team and mum. I became very depressed due to the pressures of university and feeling so alone in my situation , so fell behind drastically with coursework and slept most of the time in addition to eating so much and piling on weight which added to my depression. It was a nasty cycle… Christmas 2014 when I tried to overdose , was my wake up call.

Things I’ve learnt: Be compassionate and honest with yourself. You are hurting , you are in need of help. Get to the root of why you are depressed. Do not be afraid to speak out and tell people how you are feeling. (People you can trust or health professionals)

Don’t let people shame you for how you’re feeling or dismiss your feelings. TAKE SOME TIME OUT if you need it. Your degree isn’t going anywhere. University will always be there. Do what is best for YOU. No one is feeling how you are so don’t let them dictate how you should live your life Work closely with a mental health adviser at your university (they should have one) Take advantage of the extra help that is on offer Lastly don’t feel ashamed , you’re on your journey to healing. Oh one more thing – God sees the pain you are going through – cling to him. This worked for me – D

D also has a video where she talks about her experience, check it out.

Embrace Awareness

G.talks on how important embracing awareness was for her…

I was diagnosed with severe depression in my final year of my undergrad and then with severe anxiety in the first semester of my Master’s degree. I was acting out of character, speaking out of turn, getting easily irritated, my eating pattern fluctuated, and I spent days, sometimes full weeks in bed without even leaving to wash. If it wasn’t for my friends, I may have suffered in silence without knowing I was acting differently to my ‘normal’ self, or I may have abandoned going to my appointments once I had actually taken that first step. Of course, I have some practical advice for anyone struggling with their mental health. It’s the same as the NHS will tell you. It’s the same as your GP will tell you. Yes, remember mental health is the same as any physical health issue; this is, thankfully, now starting to be widely acknowledged. Like a cold, it will pass. Sometimes you need a doctor to help when that cold turns into flu. But you’ll get there. This is all wonderful to know, but alongside this, I’d like to give some little tips that I have learned from my own experience.

My advice to anyone suffering is not radical or dramatic. Within each individual’s own terms and boundaries, it is simply to embrace awareness. Be aware of your friends’ advice. Be aware of any differences from your normal routine. Be aware of the help around you. Be aware that depression is not something to be ashamed of. But do be aware that some people can feel uncomfortable when discussing it; share of course, but do it with an appreciation for others. Be aware of your own self; if you need time out, take it. Be aware it’s okay to skip lectures occasionally, but try to remind yourself that the feeling of having gone is always better than the feeling of having stayed in. Be aware that when you feel good again, your friends could find it hard to snap back to ‘positive’ support mode. This has caused me some issues, but I now aim to be frank when I feel low/up, or can feel a mood change coming and I let others know.

Be aware, others’ lives run alongside your own. Everyone has their own shit, and any act of support is an addition to that. Be aware of the magic of exercise – realising this changed my plans from deferring final term to coping with the final term. Join a sports team, or a gym, or even some 15 minute jogs in the evening – whatever works. Be aware your therapist or doctor’s job is to listen; you are not a burden to them. Be aware you are not alone.Make your friends aware. Make your family aware. Make your nearest and dearest aware of when you start to feel unwell again so they know you could dip. Make your tutors aware. Doing this helped me so much, and allowed me space to breath. It also turned out my tutor’s wife suffered in a similar way to me, which meant he had a lot of empathy and understood far better than I could have hoped for.Make your GP aware. Tell them what works for you, what doesn’t work. But go in open minded, and try anything that could help you. Make future ‘blue you’ aware, and leave little notes in places you’ll find, or advise others on how ‘blue you’ feels and how to handle it.

Make your friends, who you trust to kick you up the backside, aware of when you have appointments. (My best friend, who was by my side from my second year to my fourth year, literally forced me into appointments, and called me after to find out what guidance I had been given so she could chase that up. I can’t ever appreciate that enough.) Just be honest with anyone you feel you wish to tell, and you’ll be surprised how many people are warm, kind and genuine in their support.  – G.

L also touches on the importance of awareness here…

Look at your surroundings. This is vital. Your aim is to become better and happier. So be around the people who will bring that to you and make you a much better person. – L

How To Deal With People Thinking You’re Lazy…

This is something I dealt with regularly during my Masters, especially concerning group-work. When you don’t turn up to lectures or meetings on time or stroll into a three hour lecture after the break, people start to draw conclusions and more often than not they’re wrong. See here’s the thing, for a lot of people it’s easier to assume someone is just lazy or un-serious than actually ask them whether they’re okay. University is naturally competitive and you’ll find that your course-mates are always trying to find out who has completed the next assignment or more specifically who is more behind on the work to make themselves feel that much better about themselves. Very rarely do you find someone who asks with the sole intention of ensuring that you’re alright or someone who is willing to extend a helping hand if you’re falling behind.  Don’t feel obliged to tell them exactly what you’re going through or answer their questions, but try as hard as you can not to take it personally, at the end of the day, they do not know.  As for people at uni that are quick to assume, try and be more sensitive to the fact that not everyone is lazy and there are various reasons why people may be slacking. If your teacher is the one calling you out in front of everyone it may be time to tell your personal tutor if you haven’t already, your personal tutor will then inform all your lecturers, don’t worry they don’t need to go into extreme detail if you don’t want them to and then you will find that your lecturer will be a bit more understanding when relating with you in classroom settings or at least should be.

We’re nearly there guys thanks for sticking with us…there’s one more post after this and then our series is complete. I really do hope we’ve managed to shed some light on the several ways in which you can cope with depression at university and don’t be afraid to let us know your thoughts.

 

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