*Potential trigger warning: mention of self harm
University was always something I wanted to do, but I never felt it was right going straight from college, I couldn’t have imagined leaving home and being a real life adult at 18 years old so I took a few years out to save up some money, pass my driving test, and generally get some real adult life experience. At the end of 2013 I was working a full time job, feeling stable and relatively happy, I decided it was time for me to move on to the next chapter of my life.
I got accepted onto a Musical Theatre course in the spring of 2014, and by the September I found myself living in halls of residence with a bunch of people I didn’t know, in a city I had never been to before and back in education after 2 years away. I felt so empowered and I honestly thought this would be my saving grace, a chance to start again.
But reality began to hit me when the fun stopped and the work started piling up, I suddenly noticed I was becoming that stressed, anxiety ridden girl I was 2 years ago. I would sit at my desk for hours staring at a blank laptop screen willing myself to just TRY but I had no motivation, nothing would work. I started to get behind in the first couple of months and this just spiraled into a frenzy of panic and procrastination. I was feeling sub-par in my practical lessons too, began to doubt my abilities and would constantly ask myself "why am I here? I'm nowhere near talented enough". I would come home almost every weekend because I was so homesick, which on reflection was a bad move because it only made it worse when Sunday afternoon arrived and I had to go back there where I was so lonely.
It was around the beginning of December I really noticed a deterioration in my mental health. Nothing was fun, nothing was exciting. I found myself skipping lectures so I could be alone and I could self harm, which would then in turn prevent me from going to dance classes because I wasn’t able to bear my skin. I was self harming most days and nights not even thinking about it, it was routine. I constantly felt anxious and nauseous, it was like a never ending vicious circle that I couldn’t fight my way out of.
One Wednesday I had made the effort and dragged myself to tap class (the only class I really enjoyed), and within 20 minutes of the lesson I was running down the corridor, tapping with every step, and hid myself in the toilets in a fit of anxiety. I was terrified. It was by far one of the worst panic attacks I have had to this day. I spoke to my mum on the phone and she eventually encouraged me to go back into the class and get my bag to go back to the flat. My flatmate left class early as well to walk me home, I don’t think she knows how much I appreciated that help and reassurance.
I got into my room and I paced back and forth for a while until another of my flatmates came to see if I was OK, which of course I wasn’t and must have been a complete state to look at! I had decided I wanted to drive home that night because I couldn’t stay there any longer, but obviously my parents weren't convinced that was a good idea considering the state I was in. I couldn't care less, all I wanted was my home so I quickly packed a bag and ran down the stairs and before I knew it I was in my car en route to home. I got home at about 8:30pm and I thought as soon as I walked through the door I would feel calm, but I didn't. This attack lasted late into the night, probably a good 10 hours.
I stayed at home until the Sunday when I decided it was best I went back to uni as it was the last week before Christmas. I didn't make it to many lectures but at least I was there. I didn't sleep until about 7am most nights that week, I had so much to think about, can I handle this or do I leave? What happens if I leave? What if I can't get a job? What if I regret my decision?
During the Christmas break I had a lot of thinking to do, but mostly I was just glad to be at home for 2 weeks. I did go back after the break, but only for 3 days. It all started again the moment I got there, the anxiety, the stress, the loneliness, the sleepless nights. Finally, after 3 days of tears, self harming and no sleep I made the decision that this wasn't a healthy environment for me and it was time to go. I packed a bag and left that day without telling anyone, not even the university. I spent a few days deliberating what I would say to my course leader and plucking up the courage when I eventually did and just like that I had dropped out of university after only 3 months of being there. There was a huge sense of relief but also dread, what next?
Dad and I traveled back up there about a week later to pack all my stuff up and clear my room, I handed in my key and drove away, never looking back.
Since leaving university in January 2015 I still haven't worked, not even really completely got back on my feet. In the June of the same year I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder and since then it has just been a mission to learn to live with what I've been dealt and its certainly not been an easy one.
I do not regret going to university at all, in fact I'm glad I did because if I hadn't tried it I would never know if it was for me, which clearly it isn't! I do have days when I look back and wonder 'what if?' What if I stayed and I was in my 3rd year now, would I have gotten through it or would I have been digging my own grave?
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