Wednesday, 2 October 2019

Adapting to University Life with Mental Illness

Hello and welcome back to my blog. I thought that I would start this post with a little introduction about myself because it has been a hefty while since I last mentioned much at all about myself apart from the fact that I have struggled with mental illness for the last few years. 

My name is Taylor, I am 21 years old and I live in Norwich. I am currently a First Year Mental Health Nursing Student after spending the past year studying an Access to higher education course. I decided to study an access course because I had previously withdrawn from further education due to my mental health and I felt that I wanted to do something more with my life, I didn't want to be a waitress, earning rubbish money for the rest of my life.

When deciding to go to University, I knew that I wanted to study Mental Health Nursing but as I started my Access course and heard about courses that other students were applying for, I did debate changing to Midwifery or Paramedic Science but I had had my heart set on Mental Health for the past couple of years and decided to stick with what I knew.. I am already so glad that I did. I also knew that I didn't want to move away from home, my family are in Norwich, my boyfriend is in Norwich and I am one to get massively homesick so if I could get into my local University, that was where I was going and that is where I am currently studying. 

Considering that I am not living in student accommodation, my experience isn't the same as most students because I still live at home, I still have my own bed, my cat, my family close by and my job but as far as academics go, I have experienced the whole range of emotions within my first two weeks, as I am sure the majority of first year students have. I also am not one to go out and drink much but after the first day of University, I decided to impulsively go to a freshers event and it was such a good night, but I am so bad with hangovers that I doubt I'll be going out in a rush again.

The first week was strange, it was mostly all about introductions to the course, the campus and meeting a lot of new people. On the first day, we just had a tour of campus, on the second day we spent four hours straight in lectures with five minute breaks every hours and it really made me debate if university was even for me because everything that we were 'learning' about, I am sure 90% of the people within the lecture had previously been taught, multiple times. However, on the third day we moved over to the hospital site and did practical work of basic life support which was much more interesting than the day before.

Overall, week one was a bit all over the place and I wasn't really as pleased as I had hoped I'd be with what is going to be my life for the next three years. I think what didn't help is that I am on a new course because whenever new regulations come out within subjects like nursing, the course has to be reworked to meet new standards so even the lecturers didn't really seem to know what they were doing.

However, week two came around and we dived a bit deeper into the learning side of things. I am getting used to the ideas of lectures where you're just being spoken to for hours on end and expected to make notes on what you think will be relevant  Seminars also began this week which are field specific instead of including all nursing students, no matter their field. 

The main issue that I am having is the fact that almost all the studying that you need to complete, is so independent to the point that we're not given clear instructions on what to do, we have to find out for ourselves and they definitely haven't gone easy on us for the first couple of weeks, I have been assigned over 20 NHS online training courses, training courses from the University, independent learning, directed learning, group assignments and formative assignments. My brain currently feels completely fried but I am hoping that I will be able to start checking things off before I get another bulk of work to complete. At this point, if it wasn't for 'to-do lists', I would not have a clue what needs completing because in reality, I barely know even with endless lists.

Everyone on my course is really lovely and I have to keep reminding myself that we are all in the same boat, we are all getting used to unfamiliar situations and we are all probably wondering if we have made the right decision.

Lastly.. University with mental illness is difficult. I would class my mental health as currently being stable but there have been many tears, swear words, frustration and anxiety in just the first week; the stress is real but one thing that I have learnt is that the university has so much support available should it be needed (which hopefully it won't) which is good and a bit of a safety blanket that I have to remember every time I want to drop out, which has happened about 20 times already, but I will stick it out, at least until Christmas.

As I did with my access course, I will try to keep you updated with my progress as much as I can and I will speak to you soon.


Thank-you for reading, Tay x

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