You hear stories of how exciting, liberating and hard-working life at university is. You get told that the many parties and mingling with like-minded people will be ‘the best time of your life’.
When I think back to the start of 2009, when I started a web development course at Manchester Metropolitan University, I remember the good times, the parties, sharing a pizza with my friend who I moved to Manchester with. I had a great time at university.
That's what I tell people, that's what I say when I get asked.
My student life was a whole lot darker.
Walking into the counselling service and sitting down on cold hard chairs, I remember looking at posters on the wall with the message, “Talk to someone”. It wasn’t until that day I was able to open up, and being able to offload all my problems was just the beginning.
On the 4th November 2008, I got a call, the kind of call that everyone dreads. I immediately hung up after hearing the news that my uncle had died. My world became cold and dark on hearing it from my Mum. I stopped still in the street as my world came crashing down around me.
How could someone that you love so much be taken away in an instant? The rules of the world I had surrounded myself with had been broken; for the first time in my life someone close to me had died, taken away from me, stolen, my heart ripped from my body.
At a time I was meant to be feeling liberated and free, I was being constrained by sadness. I always believe that things happen for a reason, but how this could be explained in simple terms, I never knew.
I spent the best part of a year feeling alone, in a dark corner of the world where you are invisible and isolated. I spent the best part of 12 months doing the things that you do at University in the first year, partying with friends and doing not much learning. It was during this time that I was being pulled closer to the demons that I had never met before. These soul destroyers would slowly draw me closer to the dark hole of hell.
Feeling myself losing my grip on the real world, I realised days became weeks and weeks became months as my thoughts and feelings merged into despair.
I remember the first time being given a prescription for medication to help me cope with what was seemingly just the real world. The real world was a glimpse away, as every morning I would pop two pills and feel healthy once again.
The pills helped control the sharp pain of feelings that plagued me day in and day out, the ups and downs, the crazy days and the bad days. I felt normal when I was on my medication; it made me feel like the old me.
As the pills became my a good friend, I saw a light that I had never seen before. I was strong and determined, the person I felt I hadn't seen since 2008, and this was now 2010. Two years of my life I had spent being someone else, and alone, but I was ready to battle my demons.
Throughout the later part of my student life, I found a passion for entrepreneurship. I was able to see what I was meant to do with my life. My energy for life was reborn once again, and the steps I needed to take were clearer than ever. This new energy consumed my life in all ways possible; I felt invigorated and alive, my eyes bright with life, my body felt awake and passionate for new possibilities.
I was supported professionally in the University, and it’s important that school, colleges and workplaces also break down the barriers that stop us from talking about mental health. If we all work together to promote that it’s okay to talk, then together we can remove the stigma associated with mental health. As an employer, we will be supporting Time to Change with posters, drop in sessions and giving our managers the tools to allow others to open up.
I will never forget my time in the dark, cold place that I once called hell; it was after all a part of my life that helped me become who I am today, the pain and torture my mind and body endured were evil. I would never wish it on anyone.
I’m sharing my journey of mental health to help others know that there is a better place waiting for you, and people wanting to help. You shouldn’t have to do it alone.
During the time described in this article, Mylo was helped by these great organisations: