I am a second year student at university. I started in September 2013 and am due to finish (right now) in June 2016.
While at uni, I have had a wide range of things happen. I have come to terms with my gender a lot more than before, I started hormones, I have had top surgery. I have also joined a quidditch team and made life long friends who feel like family. I have found myself drawn to a new element of learning I didn’t think I would want to pursue in life, and I have undergone a lot of outside pressure and stressors to life and my relationship.
But for some reason I have kept going. I have found myself in a very difficult position and I have struggled a lot, but kept going.
Lately my health has been very far below par, physically and mentally. I spent a week recently at home, unable to get away and only going out to places I saw as safe spaces, with my partner. I was unable to speak to people online, or even over the phone, without panicking and my anxiety roaring up in my face. At the end of the week I went to a quidditch tournament. I was dreading this – and I never dread quidditch. I spent the first day with anxiety attacks and believing everybody there was looking at me like I was awful, and shouldn’t be there. It was only when I took off my shirt in public to get changed and felt the sun on my chest for the first time since I was a child that I calmed down. It was a small thing, but it meant so much to me. It cheered me up for a bit. Thankfully, I was able to take this forward for most of the day and slowly my mental health improved, I was able to talk to more people, get more hugs from my friends and calm myself down a lot easier.
Quidditch has helped me improve tenfold, whenever I am with my close friends there I feel mostly a lot safer. Sure, I still have rough patches, but they are some of the most understanding and accepting people I have ever come across in life, and this helps.
Due to my health, I have had to have meetings with people in my department and even further about my course progression. I am in a situation at the moment where I am unable to pass the year unless I do so with a very low grade. I will be failing at least one, potentially up to three or more modules already and I am just struggling. I am being moved around on medication at the moment and I just need some kind of stability, something I can’t easily find at uni. As a result I am currently looking at suspending my degree and coming back in a few months. This could be in September, which is my ideal, or potentially January if the university finds this to be a better option for me.
The thing that this means however is that I will be having to support myself at home during this time. I will need to find paid work, preferably full time, for the next six to nine months that will keep me afloat and able to afford bills and to live. Honestly? I am looking forward to this prospect. I feel like at present this will be better for me. Yes, I will miss my friends back in Reading, but I will visit. I will be back for big quidditch things and a few events, as hopefully I will have work and be able to afford this. I also will give people the chance to come and visit me if they want to.
I have not been in the best place, and right now this I think will be best for me. If I am given the chance to restart, I think I will be in a better place to work at this. I was terrified last year that if I did this I wouldn’t get on with the new cohort, but now I know just how lovely they are I am a lot more positive to the idea.
Mental health is difficult to deal with while at university I have learnt. Sure there are counselors and I have one, she is lovely, but when the staff who are there to support you such as personal tutors are not fully mental health trained (through no fault of their own) it makes things difficult. I can’t always explain how my head is reacting so badly to a situation that I can’t send an email or call, I can’t always turn up to meetings or lectures when I can’t get out of bed – not due to being hungover but due to a physical incapability that means I just lay there, staring at the ceiling or sleep all day.
I do have more going on than just my depression and anxiety, I know that, being trans* alone brings another whole layer into it, but even a basic training course in working with those with mental health issues would be better than nothing.
To sum it up, I have loved university, and I don’t want this term to be the end of that. I want to come back, I want to do well. I want to pass university with at least a 2:1, I want to be the best I can be.
But I can’t do that right now and I can see that now, I need the time to breathe and get my head straight.
And that’s okay.