“What’s the rationale behind not letting me have the time off?” I asked, my voice noticeably less brave than my question.
“Just because. This is just how we operate with agency staff. You’re to be flexible to our needs, we can’t allow you flexible working or time off to make your therapy sessions. But put your health first”.
I keep replaying those words over and over in my head. Hoping I could unscramble the paradox. How can I put my health first if I have no structure, no stability, no financial independence?
Two years ago, I started to experience mental health difficulties for the first time. What I mean by that is, two years ago I first became conscious of my own mental illness. My close friends will tell you that this all started long before two years ago. They are probably right but my own awareness only began when I was forced to retire from sport with injury in June 2017, aged 20.
When I was younger, I had an idealised view of university. I created montages in my head of joining societies, making life-long friends and enthusiastically walking to lectures and seminars. In 2016 however, my outlook was different. Throughout my adolescence, I had struggled with anorexia and after a four-year battle, I was now able to become a Psychology student. Yet instead of feeling optimistic, I was filled with an intense fear.
In 2013, during my first year of university, my grandad passed away. Although he‘d led an excellent life, he was the hub of the family and his death left a big void. My response, as is a lot of people’s response to grief, was to keep busy and do things that made me feel like I had a sense of control. I found myself balancing 3 part time jobs on top of university. This need for regained control spilled over into my daily life in the form of my diet. I started to become addicted to the control that I had over what I ate and the weight began to drop off.