You cannot heal in the same environment you got sick
As I headed into my second year of university, head full of optimism and excitement I knew it was too good to be true. I wasn’t heading back to a small room with an even smaller bathroom that constantly smelt a bit damp and never got any light. I was heading towards a room with a double bed, a large window and my own little study. I was expecting my second year of university to be all my expectations of university come true, the best years of my life.
The room I was so excited about had a big window, a high window with no window sill and grey paint splattered curtains. If I was to create a metaphor for my mental health these past twelve months it would involve those curtains. I’m only small and every time I’d try and open those curtains the loops would catch and get stuck, no matter how much I tugged or clambered onto the drawers next to them to open them, they’d stay stuck. The large window wasn’t letting any light in because of those curtains and that’s how my brain has felt these past twelve months. It wasn’t letting any light in, any good in because it was fogged over with anxiety.
My brain these last twelve months have been fogged over with questions of who I am, as a person, a daughter, a girlfriend, but mainly as a friend. I never noticed myself isolating myself, or filling my brain with negativity because I’m recovered and anxiety doesn’t affect me anymore, right? However, it does, it has just manifested it self in a way I had never experienced before. At times it was like it was before, loud sobs and unable to breathe, scratching up my arms to try and feel anything but the sheer panic, led on the kitchen floor wanting all this pain to stop. It was different though as well, it was a deep sadness where I wasn’t feeling anything. It was completely zoning out of who and where I was. Nights spent walking up and down Liverpool high street, staring at aisles in Tesco and buying share bag of crisps because if I made myself feel sick, I wouldn’t feel the emptiness for a while. It was random silent tears in lectures, on the walk home, sat in the library, where I wasn’t even sure why I was crying.
Before my second year, I loved makeup and picking an outfit. I brushed my hair and brushed my teeth and washed my hair more than once a week. I stopped doing the things I loved, I went to uni in the same outfit two days in a row, and makeup was a once a week rarity when I could find the motivation to put eyeliner on. If I didn’t put it on, I wouldn’t have to take it off again. I used to be obsessed with my skincare, makeup wipes were the devil, I didn’t even finish one bottle of cleanser in these last twelve months.
Writing this now, I realise how low I was, but whilst living it, it was just my normality and I was getting through each day. I was going to university every single day, I ate at least one meal a day most of the time two, I never handed any assignments in late, I had the occasional night out and I finished the second year with a first class.
I’m home now and have been for almost three months and the fog is starting to clear, my life has light in it now. I’ve spent these last three months looking for an answer, why did I have this relapse, why couldn’t I open the curtains? I’ve just accepted it now, it happened and that’s okay, it hasn’t defined me. It may have defined my second year of university but I have learnt from it.
In two weeks time, I’m going to head into my third year of university with optimism and excitement and hopefully this time, I’ll open the curtains.
Lots of Love, Rose x
If you’re struggling with your mental health at university please go here: