Rachel, UAL J-Soc

Hi! My name is Rachel and I am currently a third year student in London.


If I’m being completely honest with you, I wasn’t fully aware of the significance of mental health before coming to university. However, this is where everything dramatically changed; experiencing a period of depression and anxiety in my first year and still living with anxiety today.


Like many others, I see my mental health as a ‘journey’. There are the good days and the bad days, and many in between. There are the dark periods when I feel like I can’t face getting out of bed; times when my stomach is in such tight knots that it feels like a ball of rubber bands. However, there are also the numerous joyous moments that are filled with love, support and friendship; the times when I realise my immense inner strength, determination and how thankful I am for those around me.


So, without further ado, I thought I’d share some of my ‘realisations’ throughout this journey with you.


Realisation 1: Mental health affects everyone, and it may surprise you who is actually struggling. Being a mental condition, it’s often much easier to conceal than a physical one. This makes it harder to detect, but it’s the reason why it’s so important to promote dialogue surrounding it, and put an end to the stigma of it being a sign of ‘weakness’.


Realisation 2: Give yourself a break. Firstly, give yourself a break in terms of pressure - there is no such thing as perfection! Your health should come first. I know that it’s sometimes hard to, but try to put things into perspective. For example, ‘if I don’t do well in this exam, am I suddenly going to cease to exist?’ No. Secondly, give yourself a break in terms of activities. Whether that’s a pizza and film night with friends, meditating or watching countless cute puppy videos on YouTube. Even simple things like tidying your room or treating yourself to flowers can make a big difference.


Realisation 3: Please speak out. From experience, keeping things bottled up inside only makes things worse. There is always someone here to listen and to support you. You deserve it. I completely understand the fear and supposed ‘guilt’ you feel by telling your loved ones, but you shouldn’t. You would do exactly the same if you were in their position. There are also numerous charities and services that can provide professional help when needed.


Realisation 4: Having mental health struggles may be a part of you, but it doesn’t solely define you. Even though there are times when that voice inside will try and convince you that it’s in charge, it isn’t. There are so many other amazing attributes to you, and you should never forget that.


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