Written by a current NTU Student Mental Health Champion studying Psychology
Content warning: This blog mentions personal experience around the topics of suicide, alcohol and body image which some readers might find triggering.
A reminder from someone who has made it. This personal blog includes mental health support, alcohol and takeaway consumption, discussing body image issues and financial advice from a student’s perspective. If you just got into NTU, congratulations! I hope you can make use of the advice I have for you.
Here is a list of contacts for suicide prevention:
- SHOUT – Text SHOUT to 85258
- 999 – If you think someone’s life is in danger
- The Samaritans – Call 116123
- Chat to someone you know who you feel comfortable with about how you are feeling
Let’s get down to the roots of how my problems started.
If you were to ask me about my future plans back in summer 2018, 28th June to be specific, I’d have simply said either “I don’t know” or distract you from the conversation and divert your attention onto elsewhere. It seemed like such a difficult topic to discuss at that particular time and to think I have come such a long way from that period of my life now makes me feel so proud.
I was going through a dark battle with my mind during the entire summer 2018, the not knowing what to do after I finished my childcare apprenticeship was so challenging that I couldn’t get out of bed most days. I had 0 energy in me and the smallest things would cause me to lash out to the people around me. My relationship and friendships started to fail because of the buildup of emotions and stress I was going through, so I started to drink alcohol and consume unhealthy food like there was no tomorrow and at the time it seemed like my only coping mechanism. I’d keeping dipping in and out of my savings to buy more and more alcohol. I got to the point where I couldn’t silence the pain regardless of the alcohol and takeaways I was consuming so I started relying on antidepressants which was the last resort for me. Not only did it make me feel 2x worse because of the side effects but I was going into some sort of denial. I didn’t feel like there was anyone to reach out to except a bottle of alcohol. We all know the mixing alcohol and taking antidepressants can make you feel so much worse so my thoughts started becoming even scarier than ever. I tried to come forward to someone about what I was going through but I felt so ashamed. I believe this other person was also going through a difficult time so we were not able to properly . It is devastating to have lost connections with people but I think I have now done my fair share of apologising.
All I wanted was for the pain to stop and having a future plan but it felt like that wasn’t an option. I was scared I ruined my education and that it was too late for me to start over. The whole summer I felt like I let my parents down and the people around me.
I pushed a lot of people away at that time, looking back it does make me wonder how good I was at hiding my mental health problems, but sometimes I still question whether they just didn’t want to help me? I wasn’t me compared to the 2017 me but why didn’t anyone notice this difference in my personality? Or did they notice but just couldn’t be bothered to ask what was going on? Was it my fault that I didn’t come forward with my problems? I do blame myself for going through such a dark path by myself but it shouldn’t have been so hard to come forward in this developing world of ours. Everyday seemed to be the same and I just wanted it all to end.
I never thought I’d be out of that battle until the day I took my mum to her physiotherapy appointment and seeing an ad on a bus about an access to higher education programme. Yes, on a BUS. If only there was a way of showing you guys how excited I got the moment the ad caught my eye, I would. The fact that the course was taught by University of Kent motivated me in ways I couldn’t imagine. I got into the 12 months option and managed to finish in time ready to start at Nottingham Trent University in September 2019 to study Psychology. Seriously, what are the odds?
It honestly never occurred to me during those months of struggling that I’d even get a level 3 qualification. It felt so unreal but if only I did a quick search on Google at the beginning of summer 2018, I would’ve prevented myself from the suicidal thoughts and attempts. The problem is you can’t think straight when your brain is full of many other thoughts and that’s okay. I still had my own struggles throughout the course but I decided to seek help from University of Kent as mental health problems unfortunately just doesn’t go away on its own. It was affecting my studies way too much and I don’t think I would’ve been here if I hadn’t walked into the student union office and asked for help.
You are probably wondering how I cut off the alcohol and takeaway consumption. It’s not been easy to let go but I completely changed my perspective on how I was consuming them. I now have alcohol just to have a couple drinks with my friends 2-3 times a month and not to block off the pain. I still have takeaways of course it’s hard to cook everyday and focus on your education when you have so much to do but I reverted into healthier options. Regardless of the weight I gained since 2018 as well as during the pandemic, I am trying to be kind and positive to myself because life is harder when you have a negative mindset. I’m taking things easy and not putting too much pressure on myself. I still feel insecure about my body image here and there but I came to the realisation that as long I’m taking care of my mental health nothing else matters.
I am now about to start my last year of undergraduate degree and I specifically would like to mention how supportive NTU has been for me. Whether it was mental health or financial support they have been there for me from the very beginning. If you are going through a difficult time managing your student finance, you can apply for the discretionary hardship fund. I had trouble finding accommodation for my 3rd year and if you are in the position where you don’t have anyone else to rely on financially you too can benefit from it. I have been given an allowance for food and accommodation until I can move in to my flat in October.
It wasn’t easy to write this blog at all and there was of course an emotional rollercoaster but I really do hope that it has reached to those who was and may be in similar situations.
Moral of the story is: get that mental health support if you need it. I know the whole process and the waiting can be exhausting and draining but it is worth it because once it is your turn, everything is uphill from there. No more downwards and spiralling back into those dark days. I’m not saying there won’t be any but there will be help this time. The consequences of neglecting your own as well as other’s mental health problems can result in nonreturnable resorts. Please don’t let this be you or your loved ones. There is help out there for everyone!
The academic and financial pressure can unfortunately lead to depression which increases an individual’s risks for suicidal thoughts. There is so much more to life than just wanting to end it. I realised this when things started working out for me regardless of thinking it’ll never be my turn and that I don’t deserve good things. So much good have come out of it and it now feels unbelievable when looking at my achievements. I recently completed a 3 week internship with a Mexican university in Human Resources Management alongside a 3 month internship in Mental Health internship in Fiji. Of course these were online due to the pandemic but it kept me occupied. I have been chosen as the Student Forum Executive for Social Sciences 2021/2022 role and I will be doing my very best to contribute towards our student expectations and making sure your voices are heard.
There are so so so many opportunities out there, it just comes down to a good research to find what suits your lifestyle. Whether it’s academic or just personal development, please hold onto it. There will be people who will support you. Recent campaigns draw attention to mental health problems rising compared to the help available in 2018. Of course the global pandemic took a hit to so many people’s mental well-being and I feel like people are now waking up.
Whether the stigma has to do with cultural backgrounds or personal preferences, together we can break it down. NTU has very good platforms for people to be educated in suicide prevention and looking after your mates which is part of what you learn being a Student Mental Health Champion. I have now been part of this programme for 2 years and it has been an eye-opening experience. Knowing I’m helping to make a difference is what keeps me going.
Thank you for taking the time to read, I know it wasn’t a short piece but please stay safe and look after each other. The future is a lot better with you in it!
If you’d like to sign up to volunteer as a Student Mental Health Champion at NTU or find out more head over to the NTSU website. The scheme is a collaboration led by NTU’s Student Support Services and the NTSU.
Free online suicide awareness training is available for more information please contact email@example.com
If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts or are supporting someone struggling with suicidal thoughts you are not alone, please check out the links below for more information and support:
Papyrus: Prevention of Young Suicide HOPELINE UK 0800 068 4141 (9am til midnight)
Samaritans – Call 116 123
Shout – crisis Text service. Text SHOUT to 85258
CALM – campaign against living miserably
For help, advice and resources whilst studying at NTU, take a look at the following for sources of support.
- Support from NTU
- Self-Care books in NTU’s libraries
- Silvercloud: SilverCloud is our online system designed to help with a range of mental health issues.
- Health and Wellbeing resources
- NTSU Information and Advice service
- Wellness in Mind: Advice and support for anyone in Nottingham experiencing issues with their mental wellbeing
- Student Minds or Student Space
- 10 Keys to happiness