Anyone who has suffered with depression knows how difficult it can be to reach out for help. Depression makes you feel completely alone in a well of hopelessness that goes so far down that there can’t possibly be a long enough piece of rope to reach and rescue you. So it can seem pointless or impossible to ask for help of any kind, especially when it comes to university. I get it. I totally get it.
I am currently in my final year of my foundation degree, and I recently hit the biggest brick wall during my course, which has led to an incomplete assignment that was due five weeks ago, and two reports and three presentations due in little more than a week that I don’t even really want to think about. I feel as though I may be drowning a little.
Mitigating circumstances and student welfare are available at universities and colleges for a reason. Awareness of mental health, family issues, and other problems that students might face has improved considerably over the years, and the student welfare facilities work harder than ever to support students who are struggling during their studies for whatever reason. But in order for them to actually offer their help, they need to know that you need it. It can still be very daunting asking for help, especially if you’ve tried in the past only to be ridiculed or rejected. I remember one counsellor I had turned around and told me that they didn’t know what I expected them to do about my situation. But other members of staff in that welfare department were fantastic, and luckily I had met them before that small minority that could have ruined their image in my eyes.
Fast forward to last week, I was struggling with an overwhelming “I’m going to fail” feeling, and couldn’t breathe under the pressure of so many looming deadlines. I still am. I’ve found it impossible to make friends in my class and so I’ve been feeling very isolated for the past two years of my course, and unable to express how I was feeling to anyone. But last week it was getting too much – tears-prickling-the-corners-of-my-eyes too much – so I knew I had to. I eventually plucked up the courage to have a private word with one of my teachers, who it turned out had some idea of what I was dealing with because they had experiences similar issues when they were studying at university. Long story short, they now know that I am struggling, and I will be getting some support to get through these last couple of weeks of my course. It’s going to be okay, and my mental state is not going to get in the way of that finish line.
My point is that mental health does rear its ugly head at the most inconvenient of moments, and can make everything seem hopeless and too difficult to do. But that’s only if you go it alone. So if you’re struggling in any way, please try and get help. If you fail in your first, second, nth attempt, please find the courage to try again. And finally, remember that you are not alone. I am here, and so are many others across the globe, fighting just as much as you are against an invisible mental monster that you can defeat.