Wellbeing now, I think, trumps everything. I think that comes from focusing on things other than study.
I think most of my issues started when I started university. Going into second year I started to kind of focus more on my academic marks. So that became… I started to study more. I stopped hanging out with mates; I gave up rugby. And then that kind of progressed to the point where I was probably studying maybe 12 to 14 hours a day, not really sleeping.
By the time it got to third year, I wasn’t talking to my family anymore and I was just basically doing nothing but studying or thinking about studying, or getting worried about not studying. I was also bulimic in third year so my anxiety was extending. So I wasn’t just focusing on academic, I was focusing on my physical appearance.
When I was admitted to hospital, during my exams in third year, after I was admitted to hospital I didn’t get help. I was still trying to figure out a way that I could keep on doing what I was doing and not have to change anything. It got worse to the point where I was probably waking up at about three o’clock in the morning, not sleeping, and then just chronic depression and anxiety.
And then at the end of fourth year it just kind of fell apart where I - it just got to the point where I couldn’t function, so I was no longer able to really do anything.
Initially, I went to Student Health, and so from there, I got referred to a clinical psychologist. So I was seeing them weekly. Because I couldn’t work, I ended up hanging out with my family more, just as a by-product of that, that I was kind of seeing my parents more and my nephews and nieces more. And so it just kind of, luckily, kind of fell into place from that.
I think when you talk to family and friends, it's important but it's also a little bit difficult to kind of give them, like a full account of how you are feeling, so if you feel suicidal or things like that, I think that’s a difficult discussion to have with people that care about you.
At that point telling my supervisor at uni what was happening, and I think that made it easier because their expectations of me kind of changed, so they could see that it wasn’t - that I didn’t want to do things, and that I wasn’t trying to do things, it was kind of that I couldn’t, at that point.
But just going to the gym, and just exercising - so whether it's taking the dog for a walk - it just gives me another space for my head. So if I go to the gym, or I’m going for a run, or I’m walking, I find that I focus less on the things that are kind of making me anxious. And at the same time I also feel like I am doing something that’s beneficial.
And then, just spending time with friends and spending time with family. You just have to keep on maintaining those things, because when you’re down that’s when you’ll need them. So when you feel good, you feel like you don’t need them, but as soon as you're down, you’re gonna be searching for them.
The wellbeing difference – it’s night and day. So, I spent kind of two or three years in that hole, and now I realise how good it is not to be there. So although things are not always easy, and sometimes they’re difficult, I’m definitely not in that kind of depth that I was in.
When I got my Fulbright Scholarship, again you have those people around who are supportive, I mean, who are encouraging, and who see maybe you in a different light to how you see yourself. So I think that’s important to have those people around you, where, so when you achieve something, anxiety or depression can kind of try and take that away, or diminish it, or say, “It’s not a big deal,” or say, “Don’t celebrate it; just move onto the next thing.”
So, I have people around me now – they’ll tell me that I should enjoy it, so I think that’s kind of critical.
Whether the successes are big, or whether they’re really small, even if you don’t really want to I think you have to kind of spend a little bit of time, and try and give yourself some kind of credit for it.
I think most of my issues started when I started university
Going into second year I started to kind of focus more on my academic marks I stopped hanging out with mates; gave up rugby; and then that kind of progressed to the point where I was probably studying maybe 12 to 14 hours a day.
All sorts of things affect your mental healthSee them all
It got to the point where I was no longer able to really do anything
I wasn’t sleeping, I wasn’t talking to my family anymore; and I was just basically doing nothing but studying, or thinking or worrying about studying. I was also bulimic, so my anxiety was extending to focusing on my physical appearance.
Depression or anxiety is different for everyoneLearn all the signs
It’s important to have people around who are supportive
Because I couldn’t work, I ended up hanging out with my family more - having people around who are encouraging and who see you in a different light to how you see yourself.
Telling my supervisor at uni made it easier because their expectations of me changed.
There are things that can help you get throughSee them all
Wellbeing now trumps everything
When I go to the gym, for a run, or walking, I find that I focus less on the things that are kind of making me anxious - it just gives me another space for my head. I have people around me now that will tell me that I should enjoy my successes.