In no less than one weeks’ time, I am going to be starting University (just typing that sentence alone makes my stomach churn a little). Honestly, if you’d told me this time last year that I would be in this situation, I wouldn’t have believed you. I was suffering from severe OCD along with depression and could barely function without help from my Mum, so the idea of moving out and becoming independent was completely off the table.
One year on and University is exactly where I’m heading! Now, I think it is safe to say that the prospect of starting University is a pretty terrifying one for anybody. For some of us though, this anxiety can be more extreme and harder to brush off – especially when you have a mental health condition thrown into the mix.
For this reason, I wanted to write a post for anybody who finds themselves in a similar position to me. Someone who may be excited to start University, but is also absolutely petrified about it. I will attempt to share with you a few tips that are helping me during this time, but I also hope to reassure you that you aren’t alone in feeling this way – it is actually perfectly normal!
1) Know that you aren’t alone – other people understand!
The words ‘you are not alone’ seem so simple to say, yet are also easy to forget in times of stress or anxiety. It can often feel like you are the only one that is feeling a certain way, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. No matter how it may feel, I can assure you that you aren’t alone. There are plenty of people out there that understand exactly how you are feeling (take me for example!).
2) Talking to somebody can help
If the idea of starting University is really worrying you, tell somebody. Don’t keep all of that anxiety bottled up until it becomes an even bigger deal. Talk to your parents, your friends – anybody that you trust and know will listen to you. You might even find that your friends are just as nervous as you are about University, they just haven’t mentioned it before. Talking about things can really help to take some of the weight off your shoulders, and other people might offer you some advice that you hadn’t considered before.
3) Be prepared!
One of the best things that you can do to make the move to University as smooth as possible, is making sure that you are prepared. There are loads of things that you can do to make this possible, such as forming a list of things you need to do or get before you go. This could be on your phone or in a notebook; whichever you find most helpful. This way it is there for whenever you need it, allowing you to forget about the whole University thing every now and then whilst knowing that it is all taken care of. Personally, I find it useful to write lists in a notebook or in my weekly diary (so long as I actually remember to look at those lists!).
4) Find out what support your University can offer you
If you are worried about your mental health when you are at University research exactly what support your University offers. Visit their webpage and look for their wellbeing services, or alternatively phone them and ask. Most Universities have some kind of wellbeing team on hand for when their students have a wobble. If necessary, make them aware of your mental health conditions before you arrive. Not only could this make it easier for you to drop in when you are actually there, but it will also help the University decide beforehand how best they can support you during your time there.
And finally, but most importantly…
5) Take care of yourself
It is all too easy when your anxiety is at an all-time high to forget to look after yourself. Or at least, you know that you should, but your anxiety is making it much more difficult. Despite this, I can’t emphasise enough that getting enough sleep, eating well and staying hydrated is so, so important for both your physical and mental health. You don’t want to get to University feeling drained and unwell – this really isn’t going to help the situation! Instead, you want to turn up feeling well with enough energy to fully get involved in all of the exciting opportunities that University will have to offer. So, no matter how hard it is (and trust me, I know how hard it can be) make sure you take care of yourself.
So these are just a few tips that I hope you may find useful if you are as nervous as I am about starting University. It’s important to remember that as scary as it all seems now, it is also super exciting, so try to enjoy this time as much as you can and make the most of the new opportunities on offer! And remember, you aren’t alone!
Getting ready to go to uni? Find out more tips about getting started with our Starting University guide.