‘The Duchess takes every opportunity to explain various moral lessons to Alice… Carroll uses the character of the Duchess to condemn the self-righteous moralizing of Victorian England. The Duchess’s relentless discussion of morals prevents Alice from having private space for her own thoughts.’ – Sparknotes (http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/alice/section9.rhtml).
So last week, my column focused on the contrasting perceptions we have of mental and physical health and how we can make them on a more equal footing, so that inaccurate stereotypes are finally returned to where they belong, the Dark Ages. And therefore, enabling people who suffer with mental health issues to have more confidence to speak openly about their experiences and getting help without fear of being judged.
I touched on the fact that I myself have felt this fear when I have had to explain to employers that I couldn’t make shifts due to panic attacks and also, when I first realised I was struggling but was too afraid to tell anyone I knew, let alone a councillor. In the printed edition of the CUB, which will be out in a couple of weeks, and my next column, I will feature an interview, in which my friend questioned my flatmate and I about how we’ve dealt with our problems, the processes we’ve gone through to get to happier places, the struggle of it and how we feel about being stereotyped.
However, as this is the last week of Freshers, I thought some reflecting about first year and the term ahead was in order. For my article giving advice about how to survive your first year follow the link: http://cubmagazine.co.uk/2017/06/pool-of-tears/.
Looking back, I was sh*t scared to start uni. I’d had a tough year, well not to exaggerate but, a pretty w*nk decade to be honest. To condense it down, I hadn’t spoken to my mum, or anyone on her side of the family, for nearly two and a half years, along with other things, hence, I was in a pretty bad place. And yet, I hadn’t spoken to anyone about it, if I’m honest I hadn’t even admitted it to myself. I wasn’t myself, I’d become a person that I did not like or recognise.
So, going to university meant leaving all my friends and family, even though they weren’t aware I wasn’t happy, they were still always there for me. Plus, I’m a total control freak and the idea of moving to a totally alien place, on my own, sh*tted me the f*ck up. And although now I wouldn’t have it any other way, Queen Mary had been my insurance offer (technically I got in through clearing but that was just because I changed course so had to reject their insurance offer and reapply). Not that it was really getting me down, it’s just I was thinking about how much debt I was going to be in at the end of it and it was kind of sh*t it wasn’t even at a place I really chose.
At the same time, it brought with it some amazing possibilities. I was studying a subject I loved, nothing gets me going like the Black Death and Magna Carta, in the best city in the country and a friend from college also got in through clearing and was in my accommodation – big up Albert Stern cottages, the trailer park living of student housing. And although I was scared about ‘going it alone’, I realised that this could mean a fresh start for me, these people didn’t know me or any of my sh*t, and the toxic parts of my life were no longer in proximity.
I mean, it did end up being probably being the hardest year of my life, I’m sure you’ve enjoyed reading snippets about my constant f*ck ups and general bumbling that is my existence. However, looking back it actually helped me get to a better place, I guess once you reach rock bottom the only way is up. Honestly, the support of the university helped massively, not only from my academic advisor, but also the counselling services (here is the link to QM’s Welfare page: https://www.welfare.qmul.ac.uk/). And my housemates, friends from home and of course my parents, well dad and step mum, were central in pushing me to finally get help and accept that it wasn’t a straightforward process.
Now the reasons I included the summary of this chapter of Alice in Wonderland:
- It’s the next chapter in the book and the whole structure of the column revolves round the titles of the articles moving through the book
- Because I think it relates to my next point…
I understand that, like the Duchess, I might sometimes sound a bit preachy with superficial sentences and advice, or quite woe-is-me, I don’t even know if it’s just my housemates, who are forced to, who read my articles. I don’t do this intentionally. I want this article to be an honest series about mental health, taboo topics surrounding it, and instead of an endless list of statistics, my personal experiences, with a little bit of humour, because oh god if you can’t laugh at yourself, you can’t love yourself (I am full of inspirational quotes today). In the hope that from my rants it’s not such an uncomfortable aspect of our culture, then maybe people aren’t so afraid to talk about it and be open.
So yeah, welcome to QM, Freshers!