- Upbeat Liverpool
University Mental Health Day
Our Social Work Student, Ezinne has written a wonderful article to celebrate University mental health day (3rd March).
It is University Mental Health Day and I got together with my friend to share our experience because we're all going through this journey together. For the most part of it I'm glad that I get to go on this journey with the people in my life and it is one journey that I didn’t want to go through by myself.
Tolu and I met during our undergraduate degree. We have texted every single day for the past six years and honestly it has been a very wholesome experience sharing my life with her. She is the most hardworking, smartest and dedicated person I have met. Talking to her about this was quite easy and this is her experience;
“Deciding to go to university for an advanced degree was a pretty easy decision to make; honestly, it felt like a logical next step after getting my first degree and working for a few years. However, what I did not envision was ending up in an institution, which would never have made it to my top 10 choices, had I been asked some years ago. I struggled with accepting this reality for a long time, tried my best to change it in some way but none of that worked; and I became very apathetic towards the whole education thing, especially because classes were virtual, and this was an entirely different education system from what I was used to. Couple these with the fact that I had been out of school for about three years at the time, and you might get a picture of how jarring it was for me.
I eventually decided to get serious, as all my efforts at getting a second option had turned to naught, and the lectures were going on, regardless of how I felt; but so much time had passed, and I was behind on a lot of my courses. I tried to study but got overwhelmed by the number of materials I had to get through, which looked like an entire mountain compared to the time I had to study. Of course, I had a mini breakdown, which set me back by a few days. I just kept wondering how I would ever be able to cope with everything, and as much as I didn’t want to be there, failure was not an attractive option for me. Instead of going all in and studying till my brain gave out, I indulged myself with my favorite thing to do - reading novels. At this time, I wasn’t reading because I enjoyed it, rather I was reading to drown out the noise of my actual life and sink into other realities; and it worked. I breezed through a lot of books, barely allowing myself to enjoy them and marvel at the skill of the authors like I would normally do.
That did not last, anyway.
Having received the timetable, with four weeks left before the exams commenced, I had to give myself a pep talk; adult to adult. Then, I decided that I was going to do myself a favor by studying, so that whatever the outcome was eventually, I would be able to hold myself accountable. I also moved closer to the school and made a few friends within my school, this helped to keep me grounded in my resolve to be more committed to my schoolwork.
Overall, being here has helped me to realize a few things; the most important being that I can’t be productive if I am not paying attention to and taking care of my mind. Also, ‘give unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar’ is not a meaningless phrase that was coined by a politician some three thousand years ago. The important things which I don’t pay enough attention to will always come back for their pound of flesh.”
For me, being a student feels like you are living many lives and having to balance it all because if one is lacking it is going to affect you. I think the hardest part of everything is life doesn’t slow down for you. At the same time, that is okay because we are all on our individual path. This period of my life is teaching me more about myself and life.
Honestly, some days I wake up feeling like I know what I am doing with my whole life planned out and other days I am just completely lost. Apart from the new education system I have to deal with, being in a new country alone leaves me feeling out of place. I struggled to make friends and find my community. The first three months were extremely lonely and trust me loneliness is something I am used to. This time it just hit different. I would spend hours on facetime with my friends over 1000 miles away from me, sometimes we were talking nonstop, other times their silence was enough company.
I had to deal with this while trying to meet up with deadlines. Although I am passionate about my program, I felt unmotivated to get any work done even though I knew I needed to. After my first report came back and I didn’t do so badly, I thought I had hacked that aspect of my life but the second one came and I was back to square one. This time I knew I had to go back to the drawing board.
I began by making a routine, making google my best friend and self-affirming every day.
Each day, I am accepting that this is a major change in my life, probably not the easiest phase but I am going to keep striving. My friends tell me to focus on the good side, it is not the easiest thing to do either but being intentional about doing this is helping me navigate my way through university.
I have curated a wellbeing toolkit, it helps keep me in check. It is very useful for self-care and reflection.
Keep posted for more information on developing Toolkits to keep us well.