Anxiety, University & Why I Left

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Hellooooooo beautiful humans who are reading this blog! Hope you're having a great day. I've been coming and going from this blog from the moment I started it, but I finally feel ready and like I'm in a good enough place to make it exactly what I want. I've scheduled blog posts all the way up to Christmas Eve (yeah I know, who is am I?!) and I've got a lot of exciting things I want to discuss and share with you lovely people. I thought it was only right to finally discuss what's been going on in my life, why I'm no longer in Norwich and what I'm up to now.

I've discussed my anxiety issues on this blog before, but I've never made it clear just how severe they were/are, so this essentially is what this post it about. I've suffered from anxiety since I was 7, maybe 8 years old. However, growing up in Poland, anxiety wasn't a thing. No one really knew what was going on, and we just assumed I'm a walking ball of stress (which I am) and that there's nothing that can be done. Fast forward 10 years later, my anxiety started to creep back in, in a form of panic attacks. At the time, I was working full time at TOPSHOP and had a tyrant of a floor manager. No one listened to us when we complained about him, and told us it was all in our heads. Sadly, it wasn't, and that's when the panic attacks began. They happened before I left the house, on the tube, back of the house in store. Only reason I put up with it was because I was moving away to uni and I needed a job, and staying on meant I'd be transferred to the Norwich store. I also just didn't understand what was happening to me, as in the past the only thing that would happen to me when I was anxious was a tight chest and I'd usually be sick so when I had my first panic attack, I didn't even realise what it was.

As I've mentioned already, I thought moving away to university would fix the problem. Oh how wrong was I. November 2014 is when my problems started to get more severe. I wouldn't say it's down to being away from home, because things aren't different when I am here. I started feeling really low, I didn't want to attend my classes, locked myself in my room and only came out to hang out with my friends. I either didn't eat for a week, or ate a whole week's worth of food in one day (but we'll discuss my relationship with food another time). This is partially due to a 'relationship' with a guy. It was the first time I fell for someone, and the dickhead (there's no other word for him, sorry) decided to mess with me for a good six, seven months. We were also in the same sports club, and sadly I lost friends over this - but if someone can see another person continually hurting you and still chooses them, were they ever really a friend? I don't think so.

Another reason for my unhappiness was my course. Before going to uni I took a gap year, but I had a deferred entry for American Literature. I thought it was the perfect course for me, as back then I lived with this idea of being a Young Adult publisher. The course wasn't what I expected, I was constantly bored, I didn't feel I was learning anything and I basically stopped attending my classes. I started seeing a doctor and was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. Depression scared me. My dad's mum suffered from it severely, and I know what it can do to a person. I tried counselling for a bit, but there were two problems with it. Waiting for a counsellor at UEA is probably one of the longest and most dragged out processes I've ever seen, and you only get about four sessions (although this was in 2014/2015, so this perhaps may have changed now). Secondly, if you don't click with your councillor, you have to get back in line. My one just didn't make me feel comfortable, and I felt constantly interrogated.

One thing that I did know, was that I liked the Norwich environment, I liked UEA and my friends there. I decided to change my course to Culture, Literature & Politics. I was enjoying it, but at the same time, my medication changed. There was a period of time where I didn't leave my room for two weeks, I didn't want to see anyone or do anything and I fell really behind on my work. Around that time I also had a very unpleasant incident whilst walking home from my shift at the uni bar. I wasn't physically hurt, but I was left emotionally scarred, and even walking home late now makes me feel extremely unsafe and uncomfortable. All of this put together didn't have a great effect on me, and I struggled to get out of it for a very long time. After talking to one of my roommates at the time, I got myself to the doctor and she immediately changed my medication. I was very lucky that I had an understanding doctor who wanted the best for me, and who always genuinely listened to my concerns and took them on board. Even if I was coming in for a different reason, she always made sure to ask about my mental health and it was very reassuring to know she cared.

Although my medication started to eventually work, I was still left in a horrible place. Because I missed so much of uni, I had a lot of catching up to do. I didn't feel comfortable attending classes, because no one really knew me, and it made my anxiety even worse. I was forcing myself to do all the work, and it wasn't great. Fast forward a few months to around April/May, I finally got a mentor,whom I've been waiting for since November. She told me that she found my papers by accident, in a pile of things in the main office. Great organisation, UEA. She was great though. Helped me get back on top of my work (kind of) and helped me with my exam preparation for June, and thanks to her I also managed to bag myself a PR internship for the summer. However, when it came to the day of the exam, I had a panic attack on my way there. I haven't taken exams in years, and the idea of it terrified me. I got myself to the doctor, we filed a report, and I was told I could sit the exam again in two months. I loved my internship, but it because of what happened with my exam, my anxiety was at an all time high, every single day. And sadly, it didn't get better.

On the day when I was supposed to sit my exam, I was put in the wrong room. About forty-five minutes into it, a lady came up to me and told me I had to move. I questioned it, since I was writing the correct paper, but she insisted. I was put in a room with two other people. One girl kept cracking her knuckles and talking to herself quite loudly (we all deal with stress differently, I know) and one guy who wasn't actually supposed to be there. A discussion broke out, and it caused yet another panic attack. I was taken from the room, and dropped off outside of the Medical Centre to fend for myself. Which, in case you were wondering, isn't the correct procedure. The rest is all a bit of a roller coaster. A few days  before the term was supposed to start, I got a letter telling me I need to intercalate as I didn't take my exam (they were supposed to give me a provisional pass, considering their mistake). Long story short, turns out they lost the documents my doctor and I have sent off. We argued and appealed, but they refused to admit their fault, so I was left with taking a year off. As you can imagine, that also did wonders for my mental health, especially since I couldn't get out of my contract. Living in a house with four other girls, all attending university and having fun in their final year. To put it bluntly, it fucking sucked.

 I managed to find myself a Christmas temp job, but until then, I wasn't really doing  much. After that, I started another job, at a place I used to work at,but the hours weren't great, so my relationship with my housemates became non-existent and we drifted apart. When it came to the exam period again, I had to do all my work all over, including the exam - which also turned out to now be a piece of coursework, something I was supposed to know from the start. If you have severe anxiety and can't take exams, your tutors can give you a piece of coursework to hand in instead. This is something I found out way after this whole debacle even began, which made the situation that much worse. I was trying to complete all my work, all whilst working full time, trying to socialise and keep a long distance friendship 'thing' going on. I wasn't the best person to be around, and I'll be the first to admit that. Anxiety, and depression, severely took over who I was and looking back it breaks my heart that who I became pushed so many people away. As I was doing all that, I realised I didn't want to be attending a university that treated me that way, paying money for a course that I'm not that invested in and be forced to stay in a place that's making so miserable, so I decided to drop out. It wasn't an easy decision, but I decided to for once put my mental well-being first.


 I moved back home in July, and decided that I want to try getting to a London university, and I knew I wanted to study Public Relations. So I guess something good did come out of my time in Norwich, as it helped me realise that PR is what I want to go into. I got an unconditional offer from UAL, and I'm currently studying for my BA here. It's extremely stressful, involves a lot of group work (amazing...) but I absolutely love it. It may have taken me a long time to find my path, way longer than a lot of people, but I'm finally on the right track. All of this could still go up in smoke if SFE doesn't come through, as they have to decide if they'll be funding me still. It's a complicated and long process, but I have faith that all will be fine soon.

I guess what I wanted this post to do, is to help me close the UEA/Norwich chapter, but also help anyone who's unhappy at university for any reason.

 It's always important to put your well-being first, and although it took me a long time to figure that out, I'll never forget that now. 
If you have any questions regarding dropping out, mental health or just need someone to talk to, I want you to know that it's okay - and that I am here for you. Until next time,

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