Did you feel any additional pressure around graduating and what might happen next?
That was definitely a trigger, especially as we got closer to the end of university, as well as post-graduation. It was like, “What am I gonna do next?” I needed to figure things out, and that came with a whole new set of pressures. When I started thinking about what jobs to apply for and what my friends were doing, I felt my anxiety ramp up again. You’re just so uncertain and you don’t always get the hands-on support to be able to secure a job or step into a career.
Can you tell us about the support that was available to you within university?
At my uni we had a whole student services department, where you could receive counselling and therapy. They also have support and guidance for students who are dealing with financial issues; it was super-active and accessible.
For me, the fact that I had that first panic attack inside the university library was literally the only reason why I ended up talking to a tutor about it. Otherwise, I don’t think I would have told anyone.
Were there any moments when you considered leaving the course?
Yes, I considered leaving all the time. Especially when I was at my lowest, feeling overwhelmed and missing classes because I was too anxious to get out of bed and go to uni. I felt I wasn’t creating my best work and it was a vicious cycle; if I missed a class, I wouldn’t know what was happening. I would try to catch up and then feel like I was going to get grilled at a crit.
I don’t think it was anyone’s fault, but sometimes I felt that the tutors didn’t understand what each individual was going through, because they have so many students. There was a lack of transparency between both sides. That can be down to students not being open about how they feel and not knowing where to go.
I genuinely don’t think I would have stayed if I hadn’t received help and stuck to my counselling sessions. It was such a great help and made me conscious of the world of mental health, what I was feeling and how to cope with it.