March 4, 2015

I have struggled with mental illness for a few years, specifically a mood disorder. Bryony's blog2014 was a bit of a tricky year for me, constantly roller-coastering up and down but, for the majority of it, I was in a dark place. Self harm and thoughts of taking my own life consumed me. I had little energy to get out of bed and join in with what my friends were doing. If I was able to get out of bed, I would be constantly paranoid which lead to vicious cycle of self hatred and depression. Thinking about going to university was a very daunting thing. How would I be able to look after myself if some days I can’t face getting out of bed? Will they see my scars and judge me? All these worries meant I came to university incredibly anxious.

I have been overwhelmed by the amount of support and understanding I have been offered

Once I had moved in and, after much contemplation, I decided that it would be best for me to tell someone at the university about my illness. This is because I was concerned that if I fell back into the dark place I had been in previously, I would be all on my own, with no one to look out for me, and I could be at risk of harming myself. After telling someone at the student support services about my mental health issues, I have been overwhelmed by the amount of support and understanding I have been offered, from mentors to workshops on how to deal with panic attacks. Mental illness can make you feel all alone so it is a shock when you realise that so many people understand.

I have come to realise that many people had been through the same experiences as me

After a while I even discussed it with my flatmates, it turns out that many others are going through the same thing. I was scared of the stigma surrounding mental illness, but I made the big leap to tell people and it was definitely worth it. Being open about my mental health problems is not just beneficial for me but for the people I talk to. I have come to realise that many people had been through the same experiences as me, or have had family and friends who have, and were also relieved to have someone who understands them.

I am now trying my best to educate my family and friends in the hope that with education and openness, saying ‘I have a self harm problem’ will have as little stigma as saying ‘I broke my ankle’.

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