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Mental Illness and University Life

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Today is World Mental Health Day. Hear from one of our students, Sasha Bailey-Dean, about mental illness and life at university. The below may have some triggering content.

The reality of mental illness doesn’t mean you’re constantly being reckless and making stupid decisions whilst sitting in a straitjacket dosed up to the eyeballs (it’s so not like that!)

It means you live every day using all your strength to keep the suicidal thoughts, anxiety, depression, and memories at bay, whilst you do a university course, keep a home clean, remember to eat, and look after three children (in my case). 

It’s putting on makeup, concentrating in class, hitting the books outside of uni, and choosing homework over hiding under the duvet. It’s having people assume you are mentally stable because you look fine in lessons. People say they envy you for the fact you seem to have it together, without realising just how much it takes you to look "like you have it together". Trust me, there are times when they wouldn’t envy my brain. 

It’s making sure you’re being sociable and keeping up contact with the university world whilst simultaneously being exhausted, anxious, and paranoid that you’re an idiot who no one likes. But also making sure you have alone time to recharge the batteries, but not too much alone time that you feel isolated from the world and push yourself away from everyone.

It’s having people say that they wish they could do what you do at uni whilst you are sat there thinking you’re a failure and wanting to give up (and that’s before you start trying to reference ??).

It’s feeling alone in the deep dark depths of your mind whilst smiling and having fun with people who love you.

Mental illness is not straight forward. I live with this nearly every day. Anyone that walks past me on the street, or people who tell me “you look like you’ve been doing well lately”, don’t understand half of what happens in my brain. I try to stay as positive as I can, live by the law of attraction, and only ever compete with my previous self to improve. I focus on the prevention methods to reduce the recovery times and love to see other people happy and to progress through my course as I love to think of my future, because that means I see one.

This is my reality of mental illness. It’s often the person you would least expect if you had to pick them out of the line-up. They could have the biggest smile, the brightest eyes, and they could still be battling a whole war every second.

Take care of others and yourselves, especially at this time in your life. Remember little steps and approach the mental health team at university if needed - firstpoint can point you in the right direction.

Sasha is a first year Criminology student with mental health issues. She is passionate about supporting mental health and will be posting regularly on our website talking about the issues that affect her and life at university.

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