Monday, 22 December 2014

Going home after the first term

As the end of my first term began approaching I could feel myself getting more and more anxious. I have always found it hard to deal with long holidays at home, when my parents are out at work all day, my sister is preoccupied, and everyone around me seems to be busy doing things. It could just have been the uncomfortable memories of previous summers that were making me anxious, but as the end of term arrived, I was more than apprehensive. Not only was I worried about being alone, but I was worried about leaving my flat and friends I had made at uni. I had finally managed to adjust to uni life, and going home would change all of that.

Yet, when I eventually made it home, I was amazed at how quickly I adjusted back into my old routines, and the movements and motions of my family and home. Admittedly, my body clock is still running on student times, and my Mum doesn’t quite understand why I no longer go to bed at 10:30. I have also struggled to adjust to the cold as I moved back up North to a badly insulated farm cottage and away from the warmth of my modern, 24 hour heated University flat.

Coming home has turned out to be great. I appreciate the time to work, and to play games with my little sister, as well as spending some quality time with my parents. Putting up the Christmas tree and taking my little sister to school has reminded me of all the little things that make my home feel like home.  I had been so focused on all the negative thoughts, and bad times that I had neglected to think of all the wonderful and happy memories.

I was so surprised by how normal living at home now seems to me, and although I do miss my flat, friends and lack of freedom, I am glad for some time with my family and childhood friends. I never thought, whilst suffering from clinical depression and anxiety I would ever be ok with long holidays, but going to and returning from Uni has taught me so much about myself, and how to deal with my illness. So to all of you going home after your first term at Uni embrace the opportunity to spend time with your family and friends, relax a little, and get as much free laundry done as possible!

Hope Butler

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

I worry if I’m not worrying about something!

Despite the fact my exams finished over seven weeks ago, it’s still difficult for me to fully relax and forget about college/university. I should be relishing all this free time, basking languidly and soaking up all the sun, I know that. I have absolutely nothing to be stressing about! So why am I fretting?

I wonder where this, well, I suppose it is, 'anxiety', stemmed from. I mused over genetics for a while, but surmised that, as most of my family are pretty nonchalant folk, it was a pretty unlikely cause. (Do you see what I mean, though? I was worrying about why I was always worrying so much. Sigh.)

I was shocked when, at parent's evening earlier this year, one of my teachers said "She does worry a lot!" to my mother, then turned to me and asked candidly: "Do you suffer from anxiety?" I was bewildered. It was the realisation that people were beginning to view me in this light when I'd never really noticed it myself. "No," I replied, "I just worry…about everything.” Soon after this it started to get worse, affecting me physically, interfering with my life: my hands started trembling when I wrote and when I gripped small things, such as grapes. It peaked during mock exam week at college. Before each test I felt nauseas and couldn't stop jittering. By the end of that week I was a complete mess. I was drained! I couldn't let this carry on, I was concerned about my health. I went to visit my GP. It was a bit of a kick in the teeth when he told me that these symptoms were merely a product of my worrying. He used this analogy to contextualise what I was experiencing: "If it snowed heavily and someone was constantly reminding you to "Be careful!” before you’d even stepped outside, chances are you’re going to be more afraid of slipping than if you just tackled the thing head on without a single thought about the consequences. Then, if you did fall it wouldn’t’t be so bad! You, yourself are that nagging voice.” Right, well. Ok! That was that, then.

Everyone worries, it's natural; the difficulty is realising that, most of the time, the situation is out of your hands and that whatever is going to happen, will. This is a simple concept that I find impossible to accept: I must have control over my life. You can imagine how hard it's been trying to take my mind off exam results these past few weeks! I’ve not done too bad, actually and managed, somewhat, to avoid over-analysing everything. When I do feel overwhelmed, I like to watch 'Skins' (1st generation, of course). ‘Cassie’ is my favourite. Failing that, I run a bubble bath, lie in there for a while, make some tea, wear my comfiest pyjamas and go to sleep. Worrying is exhausting. It can make you incredibly sad, too.

Sometimes clarity is necessary: it's perfectly fine to ask questions to allay your curiosity. On the other hand, an integral part of maturation is gaining independence. It's important to figure things out for yourself.

Look after your mind by doing things you enjoy and being around people who make you laugh. Strive to achieve balance and stability in life.