Picture of the University of Bristol, where in the past month, three students have tragically ended their lives.
I feel like I should preface this with some information about myself. I’m 19, currently in my third year of college, and for the past eighteen months, I’ve been struggling with a bout of depression and social anxiety. I’m not particularly sure if “bout” is the right word – I’d argue that eighteen months isn’t “a short period of time” as it’s defined in the dictionary, but we’ll go with it.
To be able to describe all of the issues, challenges and difficulties that I face on a day-to-day basis – well, let’s just say that a simple paragraph isn’t sufficient. However, to give you some context about what my life is like, then here you go. I take 100mg Sertraline every single day, just to stop me from bouncing around the walls. I spend the majority of the day confined to my bedroom, locked in my own thoughts of self-loathing and self-pity. I have no life, no enjoyment, no motivation. Getting out of bed in the morning can be one of the hardest things I do. And even when I go out in public, I feel constant agoraphobic and anxiety, which means that I can’t stay in a public place longer than an hour and a half.
And because of this, I feel like I have to put my mental health over everything; as much as I hate to admit it, my mental health controls me and everything I do. In fact, in my second year at college, I had to drop and defer two of my courses, because the stress was too much for me – bear in mind, also, that this was in October when the academic year had literally just begun. It’s ruined relationships with some of my closest friends. Some days, I even wake up and think if there’s any point in doing anything, when I know I’m not going to be alive in a years time.
So what does all this have to do with going to university?
Well, over the past week, you might have seen numerous articles criticising universities for ‘letting down students’ and ‘failing a generation‘, especially after three students at Bristol University committed suicide in the past month alone.
“The number of students dropping out with mental health problems has more than trebled in recent years… in recent years, there has been a steady increase in the number of student suicides.”
– University UK, “Minding Our Future”
Now, if there was one thing that was going to stop me from going to universities, it was my mental health. After all, it’s clear to see that I struggled with college, so to go university and be put under more educational stress, where I’d have to look after myself, making sure that I eat and sleep properly, socialise with “friends” 24/7, all whilst living two-three hours away from home? How am I going to cope?
My paranoia got so high that during my last mental breakdown (which forced me out of college for almost a week, I should add), I emailed my tutor, asking her whether to cancel my uni application. Of course, I got a generic answer back – saying something like “there are people who can help”.
But then you get these stories which disprove their claims.
At the end of the day, from someone who has intrusive thoughts daily, is there any point going to university, where I could be another addition to the statistic?
I don’t know. Maybe I’m getting too paranoid again. Maybe I’m overreacting. Maybe I need to take my tablets today.
However, what’s becoming apparent is that the more I think, the more I realise that uni isn’t for me after all.