Dealing with Mental Health and University

I started a BA Hons in Journalism at Falmouth University back in 2002, all was going well until my mental health and University education started to go downhill. 

At the beginning of the 1st year, everything appeared to be going well, I was enjoying my new course, meeting a few new people and working to pay my petrol to get to Falmouth every day which is a 30 minutes journey from my home 

I sailed through my first year with firsts and 2:1s and worked full time during the summer months. Six days a week at the Coop. 

I started the 2nd year of University in October 2003, I wasn’t too pleased about moving campuses from Tremough which was at the time a small campus easy to get to and about half hours drive from my home down to the Woodlane campus which has no parking and is further out near Falmouth town. The reasons for this were because I had an unreliable car, the distance was further to drive, and there was no parking, so I had to park in a carpark and pay or hope there were spaces along the side of the road near the houses. 

To top it off the people that I got on with decided to work together without me on group projects, so I ended up working with a pair of girls who started to get demanding.

They wanted me to meet them up at their house next to the Woodlane campus, and I asked if they would meet me at Tremough because unlike them, I had to work. They refused, and when I met them, they told me that they had told the tutor that I wasn’t working with them and that I would be graded separately. 

I was very upset about this because the first I knew of this was when they had already grassed me up before speaking to me. 

I started attending all my lectures until my own Mini begun to let me down by breaking down on me and starting up during the cold winter months. 

In January 2004, I turned 21, and all attention and focus was on celebrating my 21st birthday in style. From what I remember a whole week of celebrations took place, including a midweek visit to a night club. Unfortunately, my birthday clashed with deadline dates. 

I decided to invest in another car, so I purchased a Ford KA and kept my little blue mini for weekends. 

I started attending lectures more regularly. However, I was beginning to feel a little depressed around February that year. So when it came to booking work experience, I decided to book a week with Inside Soap magazine in London. 

I was really looking forward to this, I decided to get the train because I had never driven that far on my own and the train was cheaper than petrol at the time. I got on the train at St Erth, and then I had to change at Reading to get another train to Slough, and my Grandad picked me up from the station.

He then took me back to his bungalow in Old Windsor, where I stayed for the week. I was secretly hoping that Inside Soap magazine would offer me a job and take me away from the dreaded Coop, however, sadly this wasn’t to be.

I travelled into London from Slough every day and paid the train fares out of my own pocket. Every morning I was given the task of scanning through all of the newspapers and photocopying. I also sorted out and sent of prizes for the competitions that the magazine was running, wrote up an interview with an Emmerdale Character and wrote a soap update for a national newspaper. 

When the week was over, I was feeling a little bit down and that summer when I asked for my Year 2 results, I was told via email by my tutor that I had failed the year and that I would have to come in and see her. 

I was totally distraught and in shock. I just couldn’t believe it was happening, and I was wondering why I wasn’t warned earlier in the year and to be told by email? A phone call might have been more appropriate!

When I arrived at the University, I was met by the head of Journalism and that my tutor hadn’t even turned up! He said I could retake the year and he also helped me get a reduction on my tuition fees. When I drove away from the building, my tutor was only just walking in. 

That summer I worked six day weeks at the Coop and started to drink quite frequently to get me through the days. Living in Cornwall and working in retail is a nightmare especially during the summer months. Everywhere is so busy that traffic is terrible! 

During that summer something strange happened. I can’t explain why my mental health and University work became unbearable, but I became very withdrawn and started listening to a lot of Nirvana to help get me through. Even a lady at the Coop who used to sometimes go for lunch with me didn’t want to hang out with me anymore after that summer. I was sinking deeper and deeper and struggling to pick myself up.

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