So this is probably one of the most personal posts I’ll ever write but it was highly requested in my Twitter poll and I feel like it’s something that needs to be shared and hopefully might even help someone.
Apparently, university is supposed to be this amazing and super-fun experience you’ll remember forever and fondly look back on, but that’s never been the case for me. I started uni straight from school in September 2013 and I have to admit, at first I did enjoy it. Going to university had been my dream since I was really young, so I was so excited that I managed to get a place and apparently live the dream. I was also the first in my family to attend uni so initially, I just felt really special and soooo cool that I was actually a ‘real student’. In my first few weeks I made a whole group of brand new friends and had your stereotypical, storybook university experience for my first semester – it really did seem like the dream I’d imagined it would be.
I honestly don’t know why that changed and almost every day I wish it never had.
In early 2014 I was in one of my classes, sat beside one of my best friends and, without warning or reason, I had my first ever panic attack. I can honestly say that at that moment I thought I was going to die. This panicky feeling took over my entire body and convinced me that my last ever moments would be inside a lecture hall without being able to see my family or boyfriend or anyone else again. Obviously, a panic attack can’t kill you but, if you’ve never experienced one, I can 100% tell you it totally feels like it can. Especially when you have no idea what is happening.
Clearly, I’m still here, but that day was a huge turning point for me and by the end of first year, I was having a panic attack in almost every class. It was easier for me to just avoid classes altogether because those I did force myself to attend resulted in a dash mid-class to the nearest toilet to throw up or cry.. or sometimes both.
I became so frustrated.
Why couldn’t I just be like everyone else? I never understood why this all happened and I never will. Before uni, and once I broke free of my childhood shyness I was so confident in myself and loved being the centre of attention. I don’t know why or how that confident, happy girl managed to morph into the girl locked away in the toilet cubicle unable to control her tears or her breathing.
It seemed like everyone else had their lives so put together and coped with everything so well. I became so jealous of other people and the fact that it seemed like it was just me that was struggling. Not long after that first panic attack, I became so anxious in general, that the panic attacks stopped being university-specific. It got to the point I couldn’t go to the cinema or to restaurants or bars or anywhere, really. I couldn’t go anywhere alone either, not even to a nearby shop, and so it seemed easier for me to just lock myself away. It felt like I was the only one in the world who was struggling with this, whatever it was, and that no one else would understand or care if I told them. I felt so lonely all the time and eventually lost touch with my new group of friends because I couldn’t ever follow plans through and became a no-show at classes.
By late 2014, and in my second year of uni, I skipped almost every class. I honestly have no idea how I managed to not get kicked out! Despite all of this, I still managed to keep what I was going through a secret because I felt like they wouldn’t understand or think I was just being stupid.
I guess the main thing I’ve learned and the one thing I wish I could go back and tell myself, is that there really are more people than you think that understand how you feel. When you’re in the middle of the awful anxious cycle, it really does seem like you’re the only person in the world who is in that place, but I can 100% guarantee that most people will experience those feelings in one way or another, and you are most definitely not alone <3
*This post is part of a series*
Thanks so much for reading! This was really strange for me to write and put it all out there, but I’m looking forward to sharing the rest of my journey with you as I’m sure it’s nowhere near finished yet!
I hope you enjoy reading through this little series! Please feel free to message me or comment below any feedback or comments you have and let me know what you think of these more personal posts.
If you feel like you’re struggling with anything and need someone to talk to, please chat to someone you trust. Alternatively, you can message me at any time or contact one of the organisations below.
www.samaritans.org // 116 123
www.mind.org.uk // 0300 123 3393
www.sane.org.uk // 0300 304 7000
www.supportline.org.uk // 01708 765200