Dealing with Mental Health when in education (rant no.2)

Oh yes, another mental health rant.

School, College, University. Three things that scare the living crap out of me, a lot of things scare me in all honesty, but education has got to be one of my biggest fears. But completing education is something that I must do no matter what challenges it throws at me. The majority of people must go through all stages of education to enable them to follow their dreams to become Doctors, Nurses, Paramedics, Teachers, Surgeons, Police Officers, a Veterinary Nurses or Surgeons, Psychologists, Fashion Stylists and in my case to become a Mental Health Nurse and work within the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services. But being in education whilst suffering with Mental Health Conditions is one of the most challenging things I have ever faced in my life.

If it isn’t the tutors on my back nagging or questioning me, it is the awkward situations of having to work with people who I don’t really know or speak to. It is the pressure of course work, due to no ones fault but my own, (I dislike handing in work that is just ‘ok’ its got to be brilliant or I fail at life in my head) which sounds crazy when I say that out loud. The pressure of presentations which still to this day I have not presented any of my work on this course, the last time I was made to read a piece of work out loud it took me a good few weeks to even sit down in that class and attempt it, but just resulted in me crying and an epical FAIL. The pressure of exams and having to sit in the same room with over thirty others. The constant morning battles to actually get out of bed and get ready to turn up to college, the sleepless nights and the recent coffee dependency to get me through college day. Honestly if I don’t have my morning coffee I’d strangle every Tom, Dick and Harry that steps in my way or even breathes in my direction.coffee-addiction-800x800

Right now, I have two things getting me through college, my coffee and my friend. He is an absolute darling, even whilst dealing with his own problems he finds the time to make sure I’m ok and is there for me in and outside of college. When it gets to the point of seriously considering dropping out, he’s there to push me and keep me going. Honestly I would be screwed if I didn’t have the support of this boy, he’s a true gentleman. I am so thankful I met him!

I find that when in education a lot of teachers and tutors don’t deal with individuals with mental health conditions in the correct manner. A lot seem uneducated and rather unclear on the fact that just because someone has mental health conditions does not mean you can treat them any different. For that matter I am pretty sure discriminating against those with a mental health condition is in-fact illegal! I have had my fair share of discrimination within college from certain tutors, I’ve been reduced to tears by one who kicked me whilst I was down, and I mean kicked me hard. I cried for a total of six hours that day.

One question I get asked on a daily basis is ‘are you motivated? ‘are you putting your all into this course?’ what on earth do you mean AM I MOTIVATED? Do you see me sat in your lesson? Do you see me taking notes for my next assignment? Yes, yes you do so I am pretty damn sure you do not need to ask such a ludicrous question. I may have spent the majority of the night crying, panicking over miniscule issues which I’ve totally blown out of proportion or just been incapable of getting anymore more than three hours sleep. But who is still sat in your class doing what is requested of her? ME, and yet you still feel the need to ask me if I am feeling motivated, it makes me feel as if I am not good enough, like I am not trying hard enough, when really I am trying my hardest but you don’t acknowledge it. I don’t see course tutors badgering other students, taking them out of lectures to ask that belittling question ‘ARE YOU MOTIVATED’ I sometimes feel like screaming in my tutors face for asking that, but if I did that, I wouldn’t be ‘stable’ enough to continue with the course.

Talking about being stable enough, that’s another issue. We all get our bad days right? so how come when I have a bad day I get questioned? When another student has a bad day, its put down as ‘just a bad day’, but when I have a bad day it is a nightmare, I get pulled aside and asked if I am in the right state of mind to be studying right now. Being kept behind after lectures end to have a ‘chat’ and see what’s going on with me. It’s so intrusive, but I’ve learnt from the mistakes I made last year, I don’t tell my place of education anything. My mental health remains private, last year I let on to a few things and that was the biggest mistake of my life. I wasn’t allowed to come into college without checking in with the nurse or the head of safeguarding, and I wasn’t allowed to leave without seeing either of those people. It was horrendous, although I will say one thing..

If it wasn’t for my course tutor last year, I would not have completed the course with the highest grades you could get on that course. I would not have been motivated enough to turn up (thanks to her nagging, amazing support, persistent phone calls to get me in and wise words and advice) and I would not have progressed onto Level Three. She saved my butt on a daily basis and kept me on the course no mater how much bullshit I threw at her. To be fair I think the whole course threw heaps of shite at her and she still stuck it out with every single one of us, truly a star who I cannot thank enough for everything she has done for me! If it wasn’t for her my life wouldn’t be on track right now (well as on track as it can be).

Anyone back on topic. The constant paranoia and anxiety whilst sat in lectures has probably got to be the worst thing for me though, whenever someone laughs I instantly assume its about me. Forever thinking that everyone is talking about me behind my back. Is it my hair? My outfit? My weight? Or do they just not like me? I think about 99.9% of the time, my palms are sweating, my heart is pounding, I have excruciating pains in my chest and in my head I am screaming, screaming so loud sometimes I can’t hear anything else but myself screaming. It over powers everything and everyone in the same room as me, its deafening.

Obviously, motivation does become an issue. When you feel like the world is against you and getting out of your bed is beyond impossible, going into college is the last thing you want to do. Somehow, somewhere inside you, you find the motivation to get up and go. Before you have even arrived at college you’ve fought off what feels like one thousand tormenting demons, that’s before you even walk through the doors of hell (college in my case). Going back to that question tutors feel the need to ask about my motivation, I wish they could somehow understand the crap I have already gone through to get myself there.

For me, I realise that last year in college I threw a lot of crap at people who were trying to help me (friends and my course tutor). At the time I was unable to recognise that people were trying to help me, I just thought everyone was out to get me. This year I’ve taken a totally different approach to college, my mental health remains private. I have decided to not discuss anything with anyone within the college, as I feel this year there is too much to lose as I have already been threatened to be removed from the course all down to my mental health. Which has now scared me into seeking help within college.

I feel that this shouldn’t be the case for anyone. It is unfair to be made to feel as if you have to hide your reality just so you can remain in education to gain the qualifications you need. I seriously think that tutors need to be more aware of mental health because some are honestly so clueless it scares me. I just wish people were more understanding, because there’s nothing worse than tying to explain something to someone who lacks common knowledge on mental health. As we all know, talking about your mental health is key to recovery, it’s what needs to happen to end this shameful stigma. Mental health conditions are so common these days, so many people claim to be ‘there for you’ no matter what, so many people post about suicide awareness on social networking sites yet.. THERE IS STILL A LINGERING STIGMA PREVENTING PEOPLE FROM TALKING ABOUT THERE MENTAL HEALTH!!! It makes me so, so angry!

My experience with having mental health issues and being in education has not been the best, it has gotten to the point where I have been removed from my house by the police because college have phoned them on me for having a ‘bad day’ which was humiliating. I’ve been discriminated against and threatened to be stripped of my rights to education because I am not deemed ‘stable’ enough (which in-fact I am stable enough). I don’t know if anyone can relate to my experience, I’d love to hear everyone’s experience whilst being in education with a mental health condition(s). Whether its similar to my experience or totally different! I want my followers to be more involved, also if anyone wants to read about a certain topic, drop me a comment on this post or an email to shanialouise_97@hotmail.com and I will be more than happy to write about what you guys want to read!

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For those who are suffering with their mental health right now, or know of someone suffering right now here are a few websites and helplines that you may or may not find useful. As I always say, if you are in immediate danger please go to your local A&E department and seek help from there, or contact your local crisis resolution team if you are involved with them. Don’t suffer alone, seek help. Not seeking help isn’t gong to make things better, they wont go away! Don’t leave seeking help too late, don’t get stuck in a vicious circle. Don’t ever, ever feel ashamed about your mental health, speak up guys, its time to get rid of the stigma around mental health!

Samaritans : http://www.samaritans.org/

Email : jo@samaritans.org

Telephone : 116 123 this helpline is open 24 hours day

Sane : http://www.sane.org.uk/

Telephone : 0300 304 7000 – 4.30PM – 10.30PM – Daily

PAPYRUS – https://www.papyrus-uk.org/#

Email : pat@papyrus-uk.org

Telephone : 0800 068 41 41

Text Messaging Service : 07786209697

PAPYRUS opening hours : 10.00AM – 10.00PM – Weekdays

2.00PM – 10.00PM – Weekends

2.00PM – 5.00PM – Bank Holidays

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26 thoughts on “Dealing with Mental Health when in education (rant no.2)

  1. Feeling “less than” is always the consequence of telling our dirty little mental health secret. People treat others differently when they know about our illness. I HATE when people act like they pity us. That condescending tone in “Are you ok?” As much as I would love to disagree with your keeping it quiet, I absolutely cannot.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yay – someone else who is annoyed by the question ‘r u ok’. We have a whole day of it here. I wonder if there was any real testing of that phrase before it was chosen. In my experience: we are all okay (we’re here, surviving, breathing and getting through with all the pain); and we are all wounded. I long for more shared vulnerability in the world, because I believe that many harmful decisions are made by people pushing away their own internal pain by labelling others.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I was definitely nodding along as you talked about the anxiety and stress of university. Though my depression made me pretty apathetic about coursework… thank god I have a talent for winging it or that would have been a massive waste of money.
    But I had a totally different experience with tutors and the university. My personal tutor was very understanding and helpful. She was never condescending and never gave cliched advice. She even encouraged me to give a speech about mental health for one of my classes (I had to give a speech anyway for an assignment) it went really well and I got a first for it. I genuinely can’t believe how bad your university is for you :/
    I was going to say (excuse my language) “Damn, America is f**ked up” because you kept saying college rather than uni but then your helplines seemed kinda UK based so I guess it just depends what uni you go to :/
    I didn’t even know you could get kicked off a course for anything but failure to pay or failure to grade. You have to have a support base when going through uni and also when dealing with depression and they are depriving you of that. This makes me kinda mad. But I’m glad you have such a good friend.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m in college in the UK. I have both good and bad experiences with tutors, last year I cannot fault the help and support that was put in place. There is a lot of support within the college, but this year seems to be totally different. I guess it all depends on the type of tutors you have. You can have supportive ones and some that don’t give a crap! I don’t know if its different this year because I am on a higher level course or if its purely down to the fact that my tutor lacks empathy and the knowledge to understand. I didn’t know you could get kicked off a course for having mental health conditions but according to the head of my course you can, she dislikes me a lot though, so I don’t really blame her for seeking reasons to have me removed from the course haha. Hence why this year I have decided to keep everything quiet and to myself, which is now causing major issues but I am afraid to disclose anything now due to the bad experience I have had with one of my tutors.Thank you for your feedback! I am also so glad I have such an amazing friend as well!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. OMG – I can’t believe you have to deal with all of that :(. I am assuming you don’t live in the US because I don’t think that would last long at any college/university here…

    I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree in psychology last Spring and honestly there were SO many times where I didn’t think I would make it. I was a mess and had panic attacks in class all the time (especially for presentations), all similar to stuff you are facing. Getting through school was not easy and sometimes my mental health issues directly and negatively influenced my grades.

    BUT GIRL if I can do it, so can you! Always put your health first, but don’t give up. Give yourself a break when you need it and remind yourself why you’re putting yourself through the stress in the first place – try to keep your mind on your goals as much as you can and all the extra noise (i.e. thinking other students are laughing/judging you) will much more bearable.

    As for teachers/tutors who don’t understand, I have definitely had a variety of understanding and not-so-understanding professors. I actually ended up doing much better in school during my junior and senior year and I attribute it mostly to very understanding teachers… and being honest with them about what I am dealing with and letting them know I am trying my best. This is much harder to do with instructors who stigmatize mental illness, are ignorant, or just not as understanding.

    My college experience was really tough because of symptoms of anxiety/depression, but things get better and you can do it! I would advise you to be vaguely honest with professors or if you don’t feel comfortable, maybe inform the counseling center at your school! I hope you feel less stressed soon 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey there, no not from the US, I go to college in the UK. I failed to mention that last year was brilliant for me, the support was immense (apart from when the police got called on me, and the checking in and out) but I suppose that was all for my own safety. Well done on carrying on even when you thought you couldn’t do it, you must be so proud! Thank you for leaving a comment and for the advice!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. As a lecturer I come across students everyday with very similar experiences to you and I work with staff who find it difficult to support students. It was a very brave post for you to write and an interesting insight from a student’s point of view. In our university we have designated services to support students with mental health, tutors and lecturers are not qualified to provide professional support and some students (not you) forget that. Lecturers and tutors are employed to teach a subject area and support students in their learning process. I believe that we need to hear from students such as yourself what more you want from your tutors and lecturers, what could they do differently, within the limits of their job, what can academics do more (or less) of. it would be nice to hear your thoughts on these questions.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know tutors and lectures are not qualified in the field of mental health and I would never dare turn to a tutor and expect them to provide me with the correct professional support, because that’s not what they are there for, they are there to teach. But it wouldn’t harm tutors to gain some knowledge or to be made aware of how to deal with students with mental health conditions in the correct manner. I don’t mean go on to study a degree and become a mental health professional, I mean just gain some general knowledge on the subject. Individuals struggling with mental health has become such a common occurrence within society these days, I think everyone should be aware of the common mental health disorders, the do’s and don’t and that you shouldn’t treat/discriminate against others due to them having a mental health condition. I will say not all tutors that I have come across have been uneducated on the topic, some have been absolutely brilliant. Supportive, non-judgemental, not patronising at all and just amazing when dealing with those with mental health conditions. I acknowledge that some people lack in empathy and are just completely bitter, but for a tutor to discriminate against someone its so wrong. Whether they know they are doing it or not, it shouldn’t happen especially when it comes from a tutor that teaches Health and Social Care. I really do think as tutors, to provide ALL students with support should be aware of the different situations and different struggles that students may or may not be going through whilst they are attending classes with them. I feel tutors need to be less patronising and treat those with mental health conditions exactly the same as students without mental health conditions. If a student wants to chat about it, they will, but if they don’t want to constantly asking them if they are ok and if they want to chat is just going to p*ss them off! I hope this answers your question, if you have anymore feel free to ask as I am happy to answer 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I finished my final year of school as well as my 3 years of my under-graduate degree at University while suffering from depression, eating disorders and anxiety. I felt that the scrutiny from my high school community was a lot worse than at University. I was also not allowed to attend a University away from home as I was too sick to be on my own, so had to take classes at a local campus. I felt that the students I befriended were very supportive but unfortunately it felt like the lecturers didn’t give 2 sh*ts about us. The only person I thought had empathy was our phycology lecturer, because she had an understanding of the biological tribulations of someone suffering from mental illness. It sure isn’t easy but I’m glad you have a reliable friend! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You make many excellent points. I think the school that doesn’t support students family is not a very good one, but it does happen. I had a problem with a TA and ended up just dropping the class because the ombudsman never called me back. I just didn’t want to deal with it.

    I dropped out of school a couple of times because of the BPAD before properly diagnosed. I had a nervous breakdown during a college party and tried to slash my wrists. The alcohol and pot didn’t help! The sad thing is that many of my friends got scared off in a time when I really needed support

    I finally got my degree in my early 30s. I just learned my support group about a rehabilitation program either the state or the Feds have where they give you money to go back to school to get some sort of degree that’ll work with your disability.

    Best of luck to you. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Glad to have found your blog. Thankyou for adding me. I have suffered with mental health issues for as long as I can remember (since about 10yrs old). I am nearly 39 and something has got to give! I hope by blogging and reaching out for support online I might find what I need. x

    Liked by 1 person

  8. My social anxiety was at its peak at university. I did a joint BA(Hons) and for the law side I can’t have attended more than a handful of lectures in the whole 4 years. Theres just not enough support available…most people seem to be of the opinion that seeing as university is optional, we should therefore want to attend lectures…nobody considers that you might want to but be unable to.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thank you for speaking out. I am so very sorry to hear of your college experience. It seems like you are not getting the support you need.
    When you have a condition that others don’t understand it is so challenging. Just when you are struggling the most somehow you are supposed to be able to articulate to others what is going on and what you need. It does get easier the more you learn about yourself.
    Keep asking for the help you need to be successful.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Good for you for pursuing your dream and for wanting to help others with

    I got great grades for my theory classes, not so much for the practical ones (A lot of the projects involved group work and I wasn’t not that assertive or good in social situations. I also didn’t always have the energy for them).
    Once I fell a sleep in class (due to my depression and chronic fatigue, not partying the night before) and the lecturer threw a piece of chalk at me and shouted at me.

    I don’t use my degree (film and television) at all and I wish I had studied something else like. Though I guess I’m part of myself for completing a degree.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So sad to read this, and so believe you! The stereotypes and assumptions made about young people on a daily basis is heartbreaking. Seems like a big celebration to have finished your degree in the face of all of that. Do you have hopes of studying something else?

      Like

  11. Thank you so much for saying this! I am continually amazed by the low level of understanding and sensitivity by many in the education sector. We had a very painful experience recently. If you are in melbourne australia, I highly recommend reaching out to the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission or similar organisations in other states. They have a shared interest in helping everyone involved in workplaces, schools and universities to understand and comply with the law. At a personal level, I highly recommend learning the self-empathy practices of nonviolent communication which I have found has significantly grown my capacity to listen my own feelings and grow in confidence to advocate for myself or others when it seems worthwhile and sustainable to do so.

    Like

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