I was predicted to be an A-grade student in sixth form, but my mental health got in the way and took priority. I was unable to get out of bed many days and it was really awful. It took me a while to get treatment as my doctor was unhelpful and, in the end, I had to move surgery to get the help I needed. I was prescribed antidepressants just before my exams, which wasn’t the best timing as they can mess up your internal system in so many ways.
After my exams, I became a full-time lifeguard. I had lost all hope with education by that point and I had become quite despondent. When results day came about, I got my grades in the post that morning and I hadn’t done as well as I had hoped. I was then called into work and we had a tragic incident with a lady who had a heart attack and passed away shortly after. It was a horrific day for me and it was definitely the turning point.
I realised I wasn’t happy working there anymore and although I’d received an offer to start at another university in September 2019, I didn’t want to wait that long. I picked up the phone and went through clearing on my lunch break, I was offered a place here and I ran with it. It was a way for me to break the stigma; I realised no matter what had happened in the past with my mental health, I could be strong and I could do this. I’m so happy I made that decision as my mental health has improved dramatically since starting uni.
My advice to others would be to stay in touch with friends and don’t shut yourself away. I’m quite an introverted person so it’s important for me to spend time with friends. Exercise is so important too and is proven to be really good for your brain chemistry; I swim quite often, which helps me.
When you’re going through difficulties, it’s very hard to see out the other side, but it’s all about realising that things will get better, and this isn’t the be all and end all. There’s always light at the end of the tunnel.