As part of Bristol SU's Mind Your Head Month ( 18 April - 13 May)Student Living Officer Sarah Redrup tells us a little bit about her own experiences with mental health issues.
May last year brought about one of the worst episodes of depression that I had ever had, and since then it hasn’t really gone away. I had spent a whole fortnight hurriedly bashing out a string of essays while struggling to keep my head above all of the seminar work I had to catch up on. It wasn’t until I emotionally exploded after I realised that my final essay was 1000 words under the word count after the deadline had passed that I realised something was really wrong with me. I convinced myself that things like showering, making hot meals, brushing my hair or even sleeping were a non-essential waste of my time. I would shut myself away in my room or go out for midnight to early morning sessions at the ASSL.
This probably sounds familiar to a lot of students. The fear of time slipping out of your fingers that comes around every time a deadline looms. The anxiety around being able to actually complete something; wondering the whole time if you’re actually good enough to be at a Russell Group University or whether they let you in by mistake. The voice in your head telling you that if you’re not working you’re not doing enough, that other people are working harder than you, that you’re not making the most of it.
I look back on my three years at Bristol and I now realise that I didn’t prioritize what was really the most important thing. Myself. I stopped taking time to do my hobbies, I stopped looking after my body and my mind and I didn’t take time to think about what was happening to me because I was too busy worrying about performing. Today I got back on my bike for the first time in several months. I can’t tell you how empowering it felt to pedal through the feeling of my body being as heavy as lead, ignoring the voice in my head telling me that I was too tired, too down, too depressed, too anxious to do it. As difficult as it seems at the time, don’t let the worry about performing stop you from forgetting your hobbies.
You are not your grades. To struggle at University doesn’t make you weak and it certainly doesn’t mean that you’re not good enough, it means that you’re just like everyone else and that’s okay! You’re allowed to struggle and you’re allowed to find it hard, because it is! So cut yourself some slack and take time to do something nice just for you. You deserve it.