I’m not going to lie. This probably won’t seem like a massive deal to other people. I have moved out of my home in Nottingham, to a different place in the city, into my student house. It’s not far from home and I could get two buses and be back to my parents within an hour.
But it is a big deal for me.
Living in halls last year was a humongous step from being on high observations in a CAMHS PICU for until just a couple of months before I started my degree last September. On the unit, the lowest level of observations I had been on was 5 minutes. 5 minute observations felt like freedom at the time. In the 5 minutes between someone checking me, I could go to the toilet without someone watching. I could wash my hair. I could start tidying my room. For the majority of my admission, I was on 1:1 in all isolated areas (my bedroom, the bathroom, any other rooms with no patients or staff in).
But living in halls was still a very protected space, especially as the Warden and Tutor team knew me very well and understood my mental health issues. The Tutor for my block would come and knock on my door whenever she was on night shift just to check that I was alright. I had regular meetings and there were multiple times where I had to be taken to the emergency department. Luckily, I’m doing a lot better now.
In my new student house, there’s no Warden looking out for me. There will be no professionals checking up on me, nobody reminding me to take my medication. Nobody insisting that I need to be taken to my mental health advisory centre appointments. There could be times (hopefully not many) where the other girls in my house are all away, and I’m home alone. This is a step that I’m taking.
At this moment in time my mental health has never been better. I’m motivated and I’m on the whole, happy. I’m on medication that actually works. I am super excited to get back to university and see my amazing friends and get on with the second year. I am being positive and looking after myself. It’s what I have to do. I see my CPN regularly, I will (try my best to) comply with the university mental health team, and I have access to Crisis/Home Treatment Team if need be.
It’s still scary, but I know that I can do this.
My house is really, really nice and the girls that I am sharing with (some of my close friends) are really lovely. It’s going to be really good to live with girls who all already know each other and get along really well. We all do the same subject so if nothing else, we have that common ground.
Here are my challenges for the next year living in this house:
- To walk to university. It takes less than half an hour, and there’s no way that I’m paying for bus fare when the student price has just gone up (cheers, NCT).
- To actually feed myself. When I was living in halls I struggled to use the dining room (anxiety) and struggle going to the shops (anxiety) so I didn’t eat much, lost a lot of weight, and struggled with concentration.
- To actually take my medication. I don’t know why my brain suddenly convinces itself that taking medication is a Massive Effort™ but it gets me every single time.
- Not to isolate myself when I’m feeling like shit, because there’s really no excuse. My friends are in the same house, my best friend is a two-minute walk away, my Mum and Dad just a few buses.
- To try my best to attend university. Last year I kind of got into the pattern of ‘Well, I had a panic attack in that lecture hall’ or ‘That seminar tutor doesn’t like me’ so I just avoided it in the future. I managed to do well last year, but I know that I could have done better had I not been reinforcing my own anxiety so much.
I’ve already faced a few minor challenges in the house (a TV remote that doesn’t work, a broken toaster that blew the fuse and left me and Cora devoid of electricity, a clogged up dishwasher) but the real issue this year is of course going to be my own mental health. I’m determined however that this is going to be a brilliant year and I’m so excited to see what it holds.