University: My poor mental health is not a reflection on me as a creative.

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Have you ever spent a whole day in bed? Have you ever spent a whole day in bed unable to leave? Unable to leave because the sheets feel like they are keeping you there, the comfort. The comfort, so uncomfortable because your mind is uncomfortable. You have that knot in your stomach that has been there for days, but you can’t eat, you have no appetite. You can hardly see because your eyes wont stop watering, you’ve cried, several times since waking up, and now your eyes are sore and red and puffy.

You haven’t checked your phone for days, you don’t even know where it is, you don’t care. You don’t care about anything, as you run your fingers through your greasy hair, the stench of your armpit punches you in the nose, but you don’t care how bad you smell. The smell emulating from your body is the only thing you can react too, you can only focus on the bad smell. The only thing you feel is yet another tear running down your cheek, you hear another rumble in your stomach, and taste nothing but the dryness of your mouth. All you see is the room you’ve been wallowing in, watching day roll into night. Days become weeks and suddenly you’ve missed four lectures, a date, a night out for your friends birthday and a job interview. You stay up all night, thinking. Trying to talk to someone feel impossible, will anyone listen? Then you feel guilty, talking about your own problems, the nerves kick in and you shy away from talking about your feelings due to fear of being judged and shunned. You feel like you could lay in bed for the rest of your days, until something pulls you out of that hole. It’s hard too look forward when everything feels so unattainable and so hard.

For me, the breakdown came at the beginning of the month. I hadn’t been going to uni, I don’t really know why, I just didn’t want too. Every time I thought about walking up that hill and walking through those doors I felt so sick. I didn’t want to get ready, most days I woke up half an hour too late to leave myself time for makeup, so I’d get anxious about looking bad. I’d think of everyone at uni looking at my awful skin, my big bags and my dirty faded hair. I didn’t want to wear bright colours because I felt so low, I’d throw on stained black jeans and a hoodie, I didn’t bother showering, I didn’t bother eating breakfast. I’d go to walk out the door and then cower away, I could’t physically leave. So I’d turn back around and go back to bed. I’d go back to bed and live with the guilt for the rest of the day, worrying about my attendance and what my tutor would think. No matter how hard I tried I just didn’t want to go into uni, I couldn’t face it, I was embarrassed and ashamed. One morning I woke up and I’d had enough, I broke down. I phoned my mum after texting her saying: “mum I can’t do uni anymore I give up” with two of the saddest crying emojis I could find. She replied saying how proud her and my dad are, and that made me cry even more. I explained to her that I failed my last project and I was so angry and disappointed because I was really proud of what I had managed to produce, despite missing weeks of uni before christmas for the same reason, my mental health. After a long and very emotional phone call I decided it was best for me to take a break from studying.

I have been studying non stop since leaving secondary school with twelve GCSE’s. I went straight to work, then college for three years studying fashion design and an art foundation course, then to university. I’ve never taken a gap year or a break and I’ve always worked while studying too. The past four years of my life have been so busy and non stop, I didn’t have time to even think about being depressed, I was too busy focusing on other people and balancing everything. After my breakup last year it was a slow spiral into the deep dark hole I didn’t realise was depression. I’d never dealt with my own emotions because I was always focusing on my ex boyfriend’s issues, which I didn’t mind at the time being the naive love struck girl I was. It took me months to realise I had my own problems and my own mental health issues, At this point I was already two months into university… First year was a struggle but I pulled through, I thought everything would be fine coming back second year, but I was very wrong. I wasn’t enjoying uni or uni life, I didn’t want to go out and party, I was trying so hard to get on top of work and start the year right. It took a whole term of slowly getting worse before I realised I needed to stop. My way of coping with my mental health was to keep it all in until something bad happened (be it minor or major) and then have a complete melt down and embarrass myself. I’ve spent years pretending to be fine, getting on with it and trying to ‘just smile’ and it didn’t work. I needed to stop ignoring what was wrong with me. Ignoring any problem does not make it go away and that is especially relevant when it comes to mental health.

Talk about your problems, no matter how ridiculous or small, even if its something your mind is just blowing out of proportion, SPEAK…Silence is not the cure! I realised that when I wrote my post “An open letter” (Read HERE) and had a flood of messages from people saying how much it helped or inspired them. I helped people by being open about one of the most horrific events in my life. I will not cower away, or be embarrassed by writing this blog and I couldn’t care less what people think of me. I will write about important issues like mental health until it stops being such a taboo.

We all need to take time to focus on ourselves, I do not regret anything I have done over the past year and a half, because slowly but surely I’m getting to where I want to be. I am no longer surrounded by people who bring me down, I am no longer stressing over university, I am not being judged on my creativity and what I wear and how I think. I am spending time looking for work, focusing on being happy and putting the passion back into everything I do. I will be successful, I will be happy and I will be the best version of myself I can possibly be. So yes, I left university because I’m depressed and anxious, but I’m not giving up on my life because I suffer with mental illness.  I tried out university, and I still don’t know if I can do it, I’ll find that out if I decide to go back. There is no point in stressing to succeed, pushing myself to the edge and reaching my last ounce of care for something I am supposed to have passion for. I will not be judged on something that is not my best work. The most creative, successful people have the worst mental health and it isn’t something to be ashamed of. I know how good I am at what I do, and my poor mental health is not a reflection of me as a creative. 

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