Friday, 30 June 2017

My First 3 Runs - 12 Runs in 12 Months

Andrew is running to improve student mental health and documents his experience completing the first 3 runs.
- Andrew Morbey

I decided that I’d sign up to one 10km or half marathon each month for a year, as this was a great way of tying my passion for fundraising and sport together. I wanted you to follow me in my journey so here is how I found my first 3 runs.


"All I ask for during these fundraisers, is for people to start talking about depression and mental health."


29th April 2017 – Sheffield Colour Run
I knew what a Colour Run was; a few of my friends in Sydney had done them previously in the past and had seen their photos. But I had never participated in one. Once hearing that there was on in Sheffield, it meant I could meet up with a friend who lives in Sheffield, as well as take part in my first colour run. The run was 5 km starting and finishing on an open-air dance floor with DJ’s and an MC, cheering everyone on and providing the entertainment and music.

I had previously just finished my year of sobriety, so for me, it was incredible seeing people dancing, singing, socialising and throwing colourful chalk all over each other, with no alcohol in sight. I’m not against alcohol, I enjoy a drink every now and then, but being able to dance and laugh with a group of sober strangers was quite a nice feeling.



28th May 2017 – Hercules Festival of Sport
Having decided to run 12 running events in 12 months, I found this one as I was browsing running events. It was based at Merchant Taylors’ School near Watford. There were plenty of people there lining up to participate in either a triathlon, duathlon, cycling, fun run, 5 km run or a 10 km run. I had signed myself up for the 10 km. My aim was to finish with only 3 stops for walking and finish under an hour.

I completed it in 58 minutes with 3 ‘rest walks’ and immediately called my mum back in Sydney. The feeling of accomplishment is quite special, especially beating my targets and surprising my mum with a phone call. However, I ended up going back to my friends place in London and slept on her couch for the day. One event at a time I guess.


18th June 2017 – Hampshire Hoppit Half-Marathon
I was asked to replace my co-worker, Oli, in this run as he had been called to Portugal for a work trip. He had explained that it was a trail run, which meant nothing to me, but there were was a free half pint glass and a medal. I thought ‘a free medal and a half pint glass would be well worth it’. Little did I know that a trail run literally means off road, up and downs hills and potholes that could do some serious damage to someone’s ankles.

I got to the starting line surrounded by happy and motivated people, going for personal best times or just wanting to finish the run. We all knew it was going to be tough, it had already reached 26oC at 11am and within the first 2 miles we reached the ‘Hill of Death’. It was a hill you would associate with rolling or sliding down, not running/walking up. It wasn’t the best of starts, but everyone powered on.

Throughout the run, I was amazed by the Hampshire countryside, the rolling green hills, the crops and the blue sky. It was quite a special run, but fitness and soreness was starting to take over. I got the chance of meeting a few people along the way, talking about other runs they had done or just general small talk on how hot it was. I was lucky enough to make friends with Natalie, a fellow runner/walker whose boyfriend had run off ahead and left her to continue by herself. I told her she had to motivate me to keep running every now and then as she was the experienced half marathon runner, considering this was my first.



When we did finally finish, I had felt a huge sense of accomplishment finishing my first half marathon. Then Oli’s brother, George who had finish well before me, and his parents greeted me and congratulated me. Then knowing that I’ll be putting myself through this 9 more times will be quite a challenge physically and mentally.

A lot of people have called me crazy, but when I tell them why I’m doing it and about my depression, I see them empathise and congratulate me for trying to make a difference. That is all I ask for during this fundraiser, is for people to start talking about depression and mental health.


Thursday, 29 June 2017

Student Drinking Culture

After months of binge drinking at University, and eventually finding out the hard way that alcohol is not good for her mind. Erin made the sensible decision to stop drinking. Despite being keen to “fit in” and not be perceived as boring, she put aside society’s judgements and focused on making her mind as healthy as it could be.
-Erin  Cadden 

I have never had to contemplate my relationship with alcohol. Drinking was always something I did socially, I didn’t abuse the substance so I couldn’t have had an issue with it, or so I thought. What I have come to realise, is that alcohol can be self-destroying and a depressant in itself. Mixing my complicated and frazzled mind with alcohol is not healthy. I would never participate in any activities that I knew would add additional pressure to my mental illness, so, why did I continue to drink? knowing the negative consequences?

I thought I was sensible when it came to alcohol. Yes, sometimes I drank a little too much, but doesn’t everyone at university? I thought this was normal… Everyone just seemed to be in a constant cycle of being drunk then hung-over and then drunk again. Due to this, I never considered stopping drinking. I was a student, for me, this meant I had to drink to fit in. Only now, at 3 months sober, I realise how wrong I was.

People drink to be social, I drank for different reasons. When I drank, it was to numb myself...to numb my mind. It was to stop my thoughts from constantly ticking over. All too often my social anxiety would get the better of me, especially when socialising in big groups. The only way I thought I could overcome this, was to drink. Don’t get me wrong, there were times where I drank to enjoy myself with my friends. However, most of the time I drank, it was to try to rid myself of the pain in my mind. I was so desperate to not be the “odd one out” that I drank to give myself, what I thought was, more confidence. Really, all I wanted to do was stay in bed and never leave.

A few drinks later and I would notice my thoughts hadn’t gone quite, hadn’t slowed down like wanted them to. The reality was quite the opposite. My thoughts would gain momentum, accelerated to a speed that was uncontrollable. I would be socialising, having fun, meanwhile, my mind would be constantly telling me things I did not want to hear. So I continued to drink, it was the only remedy I knew. I’d drink until I no longer heard the racing thoughts. I’d drink until the thoughts had drowned in the vodka I had consumed. At this point, I would be in a state, where I simply could not handle myself.

Frightening, isn’t it? I was putting myself in this a state, to try to save myself, from myself. I was so concerned with being judged by my peers that I thought drinking was the best way to be accepted socially. I would have far rather drank myself silly and endured thoughts that made me hate myself than accept who I am. Until I realised, alcohol isn’t good for me or my mind.

It’s hard sometimes, to refuse a drink when I am out with friends. However, I can feel my mind getting healthier every day and I will not let one drink of alcohol put that in jeopardy. I find the hardest part of being sober is not turning down a drink. It’s admitting to people that I don’t drink. 

The looks, the surprise, the questions, I receive from people when I order my virgin cocktail or non-alcoholic beer is, embarrassing. It makes me feel belittled and awkward. I am confident that I do not need to drink to have fun. So why do others question my ability to be social, without having a drink?

Why do my peers find it so peculiar that I don’t drink alcohol? Ask yourself, would your reaction in a situation like this be much different? It can be so unintentional. To be honest, these responses come mostly from my friends and other people I regularly socialise with. 

So, if there is anything you can take from this post, it’s to be less judgemental. If you come across someone who doesn’t drink alcohol, be it myself, or anyone else, think before you respond. Remember that not everyone drinks alcohol to be fun and drinking alcohol is not a positive experience for everyone.

I am happy and comfortable with myself. I know I don’t need any substances to enjoy a night out. If anything, I’m having more fun without alcohol than I ever had before!

 

Hi, my name is Erin, I am currently in my final year studying Design Management at UAL in London. I shave suffered from my mental health from the age of 10 years old. My diagnoses are still ongoing but suspected off; Depression, Anxiety, Autism, Bipolar and Borderline personality disorder. I began writing for Student Minds in order to share my own experiences of my journey with mental health. The aim is to increase awareness and to decrease the stigma attached to mental illnesses as a whole.


Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Calling All Graduates: The Best is Yet to Come

Beth is a 23 year old Psychology graduate and Trainee Counsellor. She currently runs her own mental health blog over at www.memyselfnmentalhealth.wordpress.com
- Beth

I’d like to share with you a post that I sure would of loved to have read back when I finished my undergraduate degree. It’s for all graduates (or soon to be) that have hit that brick wall, been rejected or are panicking about that big old question: what now?

So, I guess starting at the beginning would be a good idea; firstly, I did an undergraduate degree in Psychology. We covered a LOT in those three years; we even had an option of doing a placement year halfway through. I actually didn’t do this for various reasons, which now, in hindsight, could’ve been more helpful than I ever imagined…

I left university after the third year (which was incredibly difficult all round) and moved back home with a 2:1, having the pictures in my cap and gown to prove it. I remember feeling happy to be home and hopeful for all those potential jobs coming my way. However, quite the opposite ended up happening.


It may not be the case for everyone, but I think a lot of graduates do struggle to get into employment. Sometimes people land a great job but equally, some graduates end up going into a job completely unrelated to their degree or in other instances, no job for months.

From my own personal experience, I was one of those people who did manage to get a job but not one I could use my degree I’d worked so hard for. Although this first job was of interest to me, it just wasn’t what I’d always seen myself doing. I left after just over half a year to fully commit to finding that “dream psychology job”. I was so determined, hopeful and enthusiastic I would find it, I spent pretty much every day searching and applying online. It was a huge reality check for me; I was so sure I was going to find something straight away but I was constantly met with rejection or, even more disheartening, no response at all.

I will admit it was difficult. It left me feeling like nothing good was going to come my way. I felt at a dead end, I just couldn’t get to where I wanted to be no matter how hard I tried. I was miserable and was beginning to lose hope.

BUT…

After months of feeling down, frustrated and worried that I was never going to get to where I wanted to be, I noticed that a university counselling course near where I lived had introduced some more places. I applied and the rest all happened very fast! Before I knew it, I had been offered a place and was sitting in the lecture room on my first day of the course suddenly with new hope and excitement for what lay ahead.

My point is, so much can change. This time last year, I wasn’t in a “dream psychology job” where I was using my degree; I couldn’t see a future in one anytime soon and I was facing bucket loads of rejection. Now I’ve completed a counselling course, have secured a placement in a counselling service with my own caseload of clients and have refreshed hope for the future.

When it feels like you’re at a dead end, I really believe that it can and it will get better. I’m living proof of that. We can feel defeated but this can change in ways we just don’t expect when we least expect it.



So, my name is Beth. I am a 23-year-old Psychology Graduate and Trainee Counsellor who struggles themselves with their own mental health difficulties. What many people don’t know about me is that I have OCD, anxiety and have previously had depression. Last year, I started up my own blog to share my experiences in the hope that people no longer feel that they are alone. You can check it out at www.memyselfnmentalhealth.wordpress.com


Wednesday, 14 June 2017

12 runs in 12 months!

Andrew is running to improve student mental health and explains how he is tying his passion for fundraising and sport together.
- Andrew Morbey

When I heard fellow Champion Fundraiser Jess Mell was doing the Sheffield Colour Run, I thought it was a great chance to participate in my first fundraiser, meet Jess and catch up with another long term friend. Whilst running the 5km circuit, I enjoyed the feeling of surrounding myself with other runners and walkers who were there to have fun and shared a common connection of fundraising. This is when I decided that I’d sign up to one 10km or half marathon each month for a year, as this was a great way of tying my passion for fundraising and sport together.


Having grown up in a very active and sporty family, I was out playing rugby, cricket and athletics at any opportunity I was given at school. Once school finished, with University round the corner, I struggled to keep fit and stay on top of my depression. However, by joining Lindfield Rugby Club back in Sydney I was able to keep motivated to exercise and turn up to training so that I didn’t let my team mates down. 

Fast forward to February this year when I arrived in England, I joined Burton Rugby Club to meet new people and attend training to keep up my fitness. It wasn’t long till I found myself moving to Warwick as I was offered a job at FEC Energy and with the rugby season coming to an end, I had to come up with a new way of staying fit. My initial thought was to go to the gym 3 or 4 times a week, but with depression, I found that finding the motivation to go by myself after a long day at work was hard.

Deciding to complete this year long fundraiser has given me motivation to train more seriously, running 5-10km once or twice a week as well as going to the gym. So far, I have completed the Sheffield Colour Run (April) and the Hercules Sporting Festival (May) in Watford, as well as signing up for the Hampshire Hoppit Half Marathon (June) and the Wimbledon Half Marathon (July).


It also helps when work is celebrating its 50th anniversary by organising walks, cycling and running events for the year for another mental health charity, Mind. In September, FEC Energy has allowed me to compete in the Warwickshire Wolf Run in a joint fundraiser for Mind and Student Minds.

Running gives me the freedom to explore the beautiful England countryside and discover the hidden places of Warwickshire, as well as staying fit and distracting my brain from over-thinking. Participating in running events around the UK has also encouraged me to do some weekends away, instead of sitting at home and sleeping all weekend.  



I am a twenty-five-year-old Aussie bloke chasing my dream of living in the UK. After buying my one-way ticket and making the big move, I came into contact with Student Minds through a mental health charity in Australia called Batyr. I applied for their Fundraising Champions initiative earlier this year, and when I was elected, my head filled up with ideas on how I can help break down this mental health stigma. I wanted to start by sharing my story with Student Minds and the extended mental health community.

Find out more about what the amazing fundraising champions are up to and donate here.

Monday, 5 June 2017

Coping with Clubbing Anxiety

Tamsin talks us through the often complicated relationship between clubbing and anxiety, and typically unrealistic expectations of a 'good night'.
- Tamsin McLeod

Fresher’s t-shirt packaged in tissue paper and overpriced yet apparently necessary textbooks in hand: I am identical to thousands of other ‘fresh meat’ on this foreign university campus. A campus I barely remember from the open day and now call home.

As a fresher, it’s deemed undeniably important to go into the negative numbers of your student loan to buy five jaeger bombs, followed by the sugar coma that are VKs for a new bolt record on a Wednesday night. Clubbing is necessary whilst deadlines are not, at least according to the guidelines of how to have the best first year at university. For many people, first year doesn’t count so obviously, us ‘freshers’ must be partying like there’s no tomorrow. Cheesy tunes, drunk texting and a non-existent sleeping pattern all in the name of a good night out. Napping and coffee replacing home-cooked meals and curfew in tribute to going out minimally twice a week.

This was the most anticipated aspect of being a first-year student and all I heard about in the time leading up to starting university. It was daunting and exciting at the same time. It created unrealistically high and idealised expectations of Freshers’ Week as I ran a hundred different scenarios in my head. My social anxiety was having a field day due to all these unknown possibilities of an alcohol fuelled first week of university continuing throughout the year. Except, that’s not now first year truly has to remain.

It is a lie to state that clubbing is a fresher obligation. Not every night has to be lived like it’s your last and you’re at one of Gatsby’s decadent parties, griming to some obscured remix.  For many struggling with anxiety, the idea of clubbing is more daunting than exciting. This feeling of obligation to enjoy such occasions as a fresher only amplifies the anxiety as explaining why you’re turning down yet another night out seems too complex to explain.

For me the idea of not being completely in control due to consuming alcohol terrified me. What if I lost my housemates? What if I lost my phone or ID? What if I fell over onto the sticky floor? What if I looked stupid dancing? What if I am being too clingy? I mean I did attach myself to my housemate’s arm every night we went out. What if people expected me to drink more and drink every drink in the fastest possible time? Every thought about a night out started with ‘what if’ and ended negatively. This alongside the claustrophobic and rowdy queues did not fill my five-foot-nothing self with excitement, like it somehow did with everyone else on a night out.

Nights in are perfectly acceptable, but to be honest we all secretly miss going to bed at 11pm instead of missing half the day to get more than five hours sleep and avoid a hangover. Some of my best nights at university so far have been popcorn and pyjama orientated with my new housemates and friends.

If you prefer to stay in and anyone tells you, you’re ‘boring’ or ‘uncool’, don’t listen to them. It’s okay to stay in sometimes and it’s okay if social anxiety becomes too much some nights. And when these nights do happen, curl up with your favourite movie and a hot chocolate. Do not deny your feelings, or put them down. They are valid and so are you. Night in or nights out can both be good.

However, if your anxiety is at a place where it can be managed (which is a possibility for everyone, even if you don’t believe it now) I have also discovered the joys of clubbing on anxiety free days. The joys coming from putting some glittery eye shadow on and a cute outfit, dancing and singing at the top of your lungs. Going a little crazy with friends on the dance floor can lead to some of the best photos of uni – but so can the nights in were you all cook dinner together and chat about home. 

All in all it’s what you feel most comfortable doing and most comfortable with, and don’t let anyone pressure you into an anxious situation you can’t control and they don’t understand.