via Therapy and Me
I’ve often asked myself the same question over and over. There’s an expectation that university is going to be the best years of your life and perhaps that’s true for some. BUT that hasn’t applied for myself. It’s alright, the social life is good but I wouldn’t choose to stay here any longer.
I’ve always been a relatively anxious person but my mental health was pretty damn good before uni, yes, I suffered from OCD but it wasn’t debilitating and I could speak with ease and often with confidence in front of people. Now, two and a half years into my Uni course I’m petrified of attending seminars, I can’t participate in activities that involve speaking and I often feel down in the dumps. It’s quite possible that the anxiety would have revealed itself later on in life but uni seems to be a breeding ground for mental illness.
It’s strange really. Why should this be the case? I think a lot of it comes down to pressure—surprisingly enough not necessarily pressure associated with the degree. I’m talking about the pressure to behave in a certain way, to prove your popularity, your masculinity or your femininity. We all get absorbed into this belief that if we act in a certain way we are respected and for that we choose to neglect people in favour for those who don’t necessarily have the best intentions for us. Of course, the workload and degree related stress compounds the issue but as uni students its nothing we haven’t dealt with before.
I’ve used the pronoun ‘we’ on several occasions but now it’s time to talk about my personal experience. I’ve changed the way I look drastically—I wear Nike jumpers, ripped jeans and airforces to adhere to a certain image. I want to be recognised and respected for what I wear—and in all honesty nobody really bats an eyelid and why should they? I’m an outgoing, quirky reasonably funny type of guy and yet I often hide that side of myself to avoid judgement. I never used to care what people thought about me but when I went to uni and after finishing with my ex-girlfriend all of that changed. There was no way out, I couldn’t just leave and so I cracked.
Don’t get me wrong I love going out and being with friends but it’s become a habit. Without the nightlife and the football there’s nothing much to do. I use clubbing as an excuse to do something—yes, I enjoy it, but that doesn’t really justify going out two or even three times a week especially in my final year.
If you’ve read this and you are thinking about going to university I don’t want to discourage you from doing so. Truth is, uni is a different experience for all of us—for some it’s the platform for a great career but for others, like myself it’s been a learning curb. It hasn’t been awful but I wouldn’t want to do it again.
Thank you for reading and please do feel free to share in the comments.
For those of you that don’t know I’m currently receiving my second session of therapy after a short spell last summer. In all honesty, I don’t know how effective it’s really been I mean it’s good to talk to people but it hasn’t reduced my anxiety and certainly hasn’t ‘cured’ it (I use the term loosely as I understand that the anxiety will most likely always be with me).
After our last session, my therapist told me that I have five sessions left until the course is up. It hit me that over the seven weeks I haven’t really dealt with the problem—partly because I’m reluctant to do so but also because I feel my therapist is content with discussing the issue rather than dealing with it directly. She often asks me how I’m going to tackle the problem, but I simply don’t know how. I’m too polite to turn around and tell her that I want her to answer that question so I make up a response knowing full well I won’t go through with it.
The term therapist is in itself interesting. According to Google the actual definition is as follows: a person who treats psychological problems; a psychotherapist. Therefore, I would challenge the role of my therapist as I perceive her to suit the role of a counsellor rather than a therapist— there is no real desire to cure but the obligation to listen is evident.
I’d be very interested in hearing your own experience with therapy. How successful was it? Did you have more than one therapist? How many times have you had therapy and was it for the same issues?
So yesterday I was supposed to deliver a speech to small group of people on my dissertation. I’ve been worrying about it all week and the thought of it made me feel sick with nerves. As expected, I didn’t sleep very well the night before and woke up several times during the night… frustrating. The following morning, I stayed in bed till 11 AM and skipped my lectures to concentrate on the speech. I knew deep down that I wouldn’t be able to do it but I tried to talk myself into it.
I used motivational videos on YouTube to inspire me and for a brief moment I really did believe I could do it. A very brief moment indeed. I managed to force some food down me and despite the pit in my stomach I left the house and made a slow walk to campus. At this point, I’d pretty much accepted that I would panic and it’s these negative beliefs that fuel the anxiety.
I stepped into the building before turning around and heading out as soon as someone else walked in. I went back in and attempted to enter the room and sit down… I just couldn’t. I froze at the sight of the people in the room and inevitably I left.
I was overwhelmed with disappointment and the rest of the day was pretty much written off. I’ve realised that my mind is infected with negative thoughts which only damage my self-esteem—it is my job to challenge these and I’ve given myself the target to be more optimistic in the hope that I can turn things around.
Although I failed, I’m hopeful that one day I will be able to go through with such a task as I refuse to give up.