DEALING WITH ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION AS A STUDENT

I sometimes feel like my head is a computer with too many windows open. Too much clutter on the desktop. There is a metaphorical spinning rainbow wheel inside me. Disabling me. And if only I could find a way to switch off some of the frames, if only I could drag some of the clutter into the trash, then I would be fine. But which frame would I choose, when they all seem so essential? How can I stop my mind being overloaded when the world is overloaded? We can think about anything. And so it makes sense that we end up thinking about everything. We might have to, sometimes, be brave enough to switch the screens off in order to switch ourselves back on. To disconnect in order to reconnect.

– Matt Haig, Notes on a Nervous Planet

You may have noticed that I haven’t posted in the last month or so, and I feel that I need to explain why. Although I’ve had problems with my mental health for years, it recently has got to the point where it has all become overwhelming. I’ve lost motivation to do most things such as playing games, writing, and socialising with others. Majority of the days lately has been me forcing myself to get out of bed to go to work despite really not wanting to. I’ve had to start taking medication again, and so I’m not feeling too great, but I have found a few ways to cope. If you’re struggling, these things may help, although I’m obviously not a mental health professional. I am simply writing about what has personally helped me:

Reach out for support – Quite possibly the most cliché advice (and you’re probably rolling your eyes right now), but reaching out for support genuinely helps. Talk to anyone – a friend, a family member, a counsellor, just anyone at all that you feel you can trust. This is definitely easier said than done, as I kept internalising how I was feeling until I reached my breaking point. The first person I ever spoke to about my mental health approximately three years ago was actually a mental health nurse, and let’s not beat around the bush…she was absolutely shit. I left the appointment in tears and felt completely hopeless. Eventually, I sought support from a counsellor at university and he was incredible. If the person you talk to isn’t particularly helpful, try to seek support from someone else. Keep talking until you find the help and support that you deserve, because no one should have to endure feeling like this on a daily basis.

Don’t isolate yourself from others – I am the biggest hypocrite on earth. If there’s anything I’m guilty of, it is this. It’s quite common with anxiety and depression to want to distance yourself from friends. At least in my experience, I convince myself that I am a burden to those around me, and so I’ll purposefully stop communicating with others. This is one of the things you definitely should not do. As mentioned above, talking and reaching out for support is incredibly important when you are struggling with your mental health. Isolating myself from others has led to my mental health deteriorating, and so I’ve learnt this the hard way.

Don’t overwork yourself – When dealing with anxiety and/or depression, you do tend to get fatigued much quicker than the average person. Learn to accept this, and don’t be too hard on yourself if you are unable to get much done during the day. Be proud of yourself for every achievement, no matter how small it may be. Everything feels like a chore – getting out of bed, going to work, socialising, and even getting dressed, so celebrate the small things you manage to get done. You’ve just finished work but don’t have the motivation to study? That’s okay!! Take some time for yourself to do something that brings you some joy. You don’t have to work constantly. I go more in detail about the importance of maintaining a work-life balance in this post.

If you’re reading this post, you’re probably struggling with your mental health right now as well. I hope you find these tips helpful, and I really hope that things get better for you soon!! ❤