Overcoming university pressures

For some, university can be a difficult time; often bringing about feelings of loneliness and self-doubt.

Hear from Nicola who struggled with depression as a student but managed to get the right support and overcome her challenges.

Nicola's story

‘The change in you that is brought about by depression is incredibly confusing’, says Nicola Gee 'there is no let up, no reprieve just withdrawal, locking you into the way you feel by isolating you from people who care about you the most.’

Nicola noticed changes in the way she felt in her second year of university. As a 1st class honours student, she was used to rising to the challenges of university, however, as her mood sank lower and lower, she began to react very differently to pressure: ‘I have always been hard working but somehow, academic challenges seemed overwhelming. My grades and attendance record remained strong, but I constantly felt I was falling behind and was totally preoccupied with thoughts of failure.’

The real you quickly becomes the old you and all of a sudden you feel deeply uncomfortable with yourself and doubt everything you do.

Nicola’s friends and boyfriend encouraged her to seek the help that she needed, which started with a trip to the doctor, ‘My close friends and boyfriend started to see that something was very wrong. I spent hours and hours alone in my bedroom and stopped socialising almost completely. This compares dramatically with my first year, where I was very outgoing and full of confidence. In the end, I went to see my GP, who was very supportive; however, it was Samaritans that helped the most. They helped me work out a support plan that I still use to this day.’

Samaritans helped Nicola work out a plan outlining what to do when she felt depressed. Although the answer to managing depression is different for each person, she feels having a listening ear helped her understand the way she was feeling and prompted her to take action  to improve her mood: ‘I now have a strategy to cope when I am finding life difficult. I can spot the warning signs and take steps that I know will improve my mood. I don’t have a ‘silver bullet’ or ‘magic panacea’ but I can stop my mood sinking lower and lower.’

Reflecting back on her experience, Nicola thinks that having someone to listen to her had a huge impact on her life: ‘I wouldn’t want any student who was struggling to cope to end up feeling alone or isolated.

Not everyone will have university friends who can be trusted with such difficult thoughts and feelings which is why I recommend Samaritans.

Samaritans' army of volunteers are available any time of day or night to provide the time and space for people to talk about what's getting to them.

‘Samaritans listeners give each and every person undivided attention, whatever they have done or whatever life has done to them. If you are struggling to settle into student life, please contact a Samaritans volunteer as soon as possible. They can be reached by phone, letter, email or face to face in a local Samaritans branch.’

Samaritans offers round-the-clock support for anyone who’s struggling, whoever they are, however they are feeling, and whatever life has done to them.

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