My mental health battle, improved by running.
I started university in September 2016, studying sports therapy. When I applied to uni, I had no idea that it would be a rollercoaster of emotions. I did not know I was such a home bird, even though I was so domesticated and confident at home. I moved in to a room, which unbeknown to me, had a problem with WIFI and mobile phone signal connection. How was I meant to study when the WIFI didn’t work in my room?! As soon as you stepped foot in my room, the WIFI mysteriously cut off. This made me very stressed and homesick! Not even phone signal could save me as there were specific parts of my room which could get it. After countless emails and phone calls to the technicians, I managed to swap my room to an upstairs room in the same hall! The room had a different lay out, less storage but other than that, it was pretty much the same.
I chose to move in to halls that had a shared bathroom, because those halls had a catered option. The catered option enabled myself to get hot and cold meals every day. It worked by adding £45 on to my uni-card so I could spend that money on food in the university’s food stalls. This was a beneficial decision as the food was incredible!! Especially the chicken nuggets!! I ended up spending over £1000 on food in my first year so that was a great choice!
Midway through semester one, I chose to go home every weekend to see my family as I was struggling mentally with being away (which I will get into later). This meant, I had 4 days to use £45 worth of food. This was easy!! Chicken nuggets every day for tea, and crates of Dr Pepper zero to use the remaining money up. I finished the first semester for Christmas and had 40 bottles of pop left over! It’s safe to say, I had great revision motivation!
In the first semester, I hated university, I don’t know if it was a big step up and I felt like I couldn’t handle it, or whether it was just homesickness. I would spend most my days in my room just waiting for the time to pass until I could go home, it was horrible. And even now, (almost finished second semester of year 2) I still struggle with it. My best decision was when I decided to come home every weekend, honestly, I wouldn’t be at university still if I didn’t come home. It meant I got to spend time with my parents and made me feel happier, even when I felt I wasn’t.
Having 2 weeks off for Christmas made coming back so difficult. I did not want to come back at all!!!
I came back into 2 weeks where I had exams on random days, and nothing else!
I WAS BORED SENSELESS!
I would spend my days crying on the phone to my parents/boyfriend. I wasn’t upset about the exams, I was just very homesick! I got so down that in the second semester I was researching apprenticeships in physiotherapy. I wanted to jack the whole university degree in. I was done. I was depressed and now, almost 2 years on, is the first time I can talk about it without crying.
Without my friends, Jenna and Becca, my councillor, Alex, and my parents/ family, I would not have been able to carry on. I went in to second semester feeling negative about university, with only 2 people I trust. Fortunately, I wasn’t going through it alone, my councillor was great. She gave me lots of coping mechanisms and we discovered I felt my worst when I was bored. I was fine doing my work however I got upset when I stopped my work. I was very thankful for my boyfriend’s Netflix subscription. That saved me!! I watched series repeatedly to get me through it, again, with the chicken nuggets!
Another contributing factor to my mental health was receiving the closer of being diagnosed with dyslexia. At the time, I thought this was the end of the world. I hated having to tell everyone that I struggled with some things, like reading and sentencing etc, but now, I wish I’d have embraced it. Despite this, I did tremendously well at uni, but again, that didn’t make me want to stay.
Starting second year was harder, I’d just had 5 months off uni for the summer and I did not want to come back at all!! I had to move into the town into another type of accommodation, this time with my own toilet! The same issues arose with homesickness and for the first semester, I was crying a lot and on the very first day, I was minutes from quitting the course! I had the biggest breakdown ever and I think that was a blessing in disguise. It made my mother understand what was going on and now I am happy that that happened.
I really wish I’d have found running earlier. I started running in January 2018, for RED January, for mind. My personal tutor from my course noticed an immediate effect. I was more with it in lectures and I felt happier in myself. If it wasn’t for running I don’t think that I would still be at uni.
I shared my story through RED January for the very first time, and I really didn’t believe the response. People don’t understand what you go through unless someone close to you goes through it.
I am now in a happier place, I sometimes have down days, where I don’t want to get up or even out of bed. I have taken part in some races and am training for a half marathon!
Running has been my saviour!
I honestly recommend running as a bit of a release!
It's OK to have a mental health issue, it's OK to talk about mental health, and it's OK to ask for help.