Nobody should feel like they can’t speak to anyone about their mental health or think there isn’t light at the end of the tunnel.
Mental health is complex and needs working on, but you can achieve positive results. I mean, I got into university, so that’s a good enough result for me - proving that there is light at the end of the tunnel!
I'm in ‘remission/recovery’ after being diagnosed with separation and generalised anxiety as a teenager. I usually manage university well but I do have specific triggers, including alcohol, over-tiredness, a want for academic perfection and loneliness.
Does any of that sound familiar? Let me tell you what helps me manage my mental health:
1. Noticing the signs
How do you feel? Sometimes, being anxious can feel ‘normal’ when it shouldn’t be. Feeling physically ill is not normal and needs addressing. Acknowledging my anxiety helps me to put the steps in place to stay well.
2. Get out
When I’m feeling anxious, I isolate myself but if your friends invite you out, go! If you’re not comfortable with the plan suggest something else, maybe go for a coffee instead? Short walks even just to the supermarket really help me. No matter how small, achievements shouldn’t be over looked.
3. Taking breaks
When working on an assignment I can sit at a desk for eight hours without a break but this doesn’t help. University can get quite stressful especially once you’re into the swing of everything but having ‘you time’ is deserved and well needed sometimes!
4. Talking openly
To family, friends, a lecturer, university wellbeing services, or anyone I trust. Talking about what’s on your mind really helps to rationalise anxious thoughts. A problem shared is a problem halved - cliché but true.
5. Eating & sleeping properly
Filling my body with good food helps me instantly feel better. If you’re struggling with anxiety, there is the temptation to stay up into the early hours but that’s not productive. A good sleep makes the next day a lot more manageable.
6. Admit that you’re struggling
Admitting it to yourself and to others can be the hardest step as you don't want to be seen as weak. But it’s not! If you're struggling with extreme feelings of fear around university make sure you talk to someone. Academic tutors, university well-being services, your friends are all there to help.
Now that you’ve settled into university life, you may feel overwhelmed or starting to miss home and you’re not feeling like yourself – if any of Rosie’s blog has struck a chord with you, seek advice.
There are many sources of help and support available:
- DCU Student Support: The Counselling and Personal Development Service is a professional and confidential service, which is available to all registered students.
- Jigsaw: is a free, non-judgemental and confidential support service for young people aged 12 - 25 living, working or studying in Dublin. They provide guidance and support for young people who are going through a difficult or distressing time.
- Samaritans Helpline: is for those who are experiencing high levels of distress. Whatever you're going through, you can call free anytime, from any phone on 116 123.
- Pieta House: provides a free, therapeutic approach to people who are in distress. Have a look at the website for your nearest Pieta House.