To mark University Mental Health Day (1 March), Student Writer Bronwyn gives us a personal account of her own mental health journey
For so many reasons, I am that person that finds reaching out to be uncomfortable, isolating, exposing… So, I learned to fend for myself, fight my own corner and rely on as few people as possible. For a long time, this worked for me and I can genuinely say I was happy in my little world.
Then, life being as it is, things changed drastically. I suddenly had to support a family member that was suicidal, a child that had to be induced into a coma for treatment and convince an inherently corrupt police force in a 3rd world country to actually investigate the murder of another family member…
I could feel the carrion-eaters circling above, waiting for me to make a wrong move, to stumble and fall.
(Attribution: Creative Commons CC: 2.0 Wenchao Wang)
But I couldn’t stumble.
I was entering the middle of my university course when this all happened. This course is the gateway to a better future for my kids and a more fulfilling career for me. So, I made the decision to step far outside of my comfort zone and reach out. It started with an email to my head of year and PPD tutor. I was expecting a hard response, something like ‘you’re not fit enough to continue’.
Instead, I received empathy and compassion. Then, I reached out to my study support tutor and just dumped my news onto her lap, like a slap in the face…
By this point, I could feel myself wavering, carrying a weight that was driving me down, but I still had that smile plastered on my face.
I was beginning to stumble…
Again I was expecting to be told something like ‘you’re not fit enough to continue’. Instead, I was shown empathy and compassion and, much to my surprise, I was given support that was maintained. Finally, I reached out to my head of department who also gave me empathy, compassion and support.
I can still feel the carrion-eaters circling from time to time, but for the first time in a long long time, I feel supported, like I have backup. Ashamedly, I was not expecting anyone to understand that I am human, just like everyone else…
Now, I stand. I am not alone.