Monday, 13 March 2017

Mental Health, University and Me

(photo by me!)
Hey beautiful people!

Yes, it has definitely been a while, but I have really needed this break, but I'm back and better, shout out Bryson Tiller. I have been meaning to write this post for many months, but I couldn't bring myself to do so and I started and stopped multiple times. I think it is important for me to speak of my struggles with mental health and depression during my first year of university.

So for a bit of backstory I studied paediatric nursing at the University of Nottingham. I was really excited about the whole experience and was really looking forward to immersing myself fully into university life and I definitely did enjoy it for a little while. Went to lectures, took part in Freshers Week, luckily my housemates were awesome and I just got on with life.

I first noticed symptoms of depression when I was feeling really demotivated and spending most of my time in bed. I had insomnia, I was binge eating, didn't leave my room and my personal hygiene was terrible. My housemates were really observant and I asked me how I was feeling as they had noticed I was a lot more withdrawn from when they first met me. I decided to google the symptoms of depression because I collated all of my feelings and that's where it seemed to point. Using the NHS website which is the health service in the UK it confirmed my suspicions that I had developed depression. When it comes to self diagnosis, there are extremely mixed feelings and mental health goes much further than depression and anxiety so it was fairly easy for me to then book an emergency appointment at my university GP but for others self-diagnosis is their only immediate option. What I will say is I absolutely recommend going to your GP if you can as it allowed me to explore my next steps and have that professional confirmation. 

Depression noticeably affected my studies and attendance and I had an amazing personal tutor that I met with and we discussed my condition and what my next steps would be. I was diagnosed just before the Christmas and myself and my doctor decided that I did not want to be placed on medication immediately, but wanted to see how I was once I spent some time at home with family and back in familiar surroundings which did make me feel better. University is very hard on mental health and it is a very intense environment. Paediatric nursing is half placement based with full time hours, which I started after Christmas so it was extremely important for me to keep a close eye on how I was feeling. My struggle with insomnia improved slightly with the help of my family over Christmas, but soon after I returned to uni it returned with a vengeance. Consequentially, I missed a lot of my first placement and it was clear that studying as a whole was becoming too difficult for me. I kept my tutor updated with my progress and she put things in place to help support me during practical exams and assignment deadlines. Due to the time I'd had off which made me fall behind in my studies I decided to take a year off uni in April to just work and rest which I definitely recommend to anyone that is really struggling.

I did enjoy Nursing as a course but I don't think I was prepared enough for how different it was as a degree and I don't think there was enough information given on the structure of placements and what goes on during otherwise I may have made different decisions. I'll hopefully be returning to university in September to study a different course so stay tuned for any updates.

My main aim in writing this (longer than usual) blog post and being more open than usual is to maybe help someone else by talking about my struggle with depression as I think a more open dialogue is important in removing the stigma and helping people understand them as it is extremely common. 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year (source) so understanding what they are and how to deal with them is important.

Thank you for reading and if you have any questions then you can '@ me' on Twitter, ask me anonymously via Curious Cat or leave a comment below.