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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be more than happy to write about what you guys want to read!
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 : email@example.com
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 : firstname.lastname@example.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