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Living at uni (halls) with mental illness watch

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    Hey
    I’m going to be moving into Uni halls in September – it’s not for a while, but I’ve been thinking about how I’m going to deal with it in terms of mental health difficulties (especially anxiety & panic).

    So I'm wondering if anyone who's lived/living at Uni with a mental health issue - and especially in halls with strangers - has any positive stories, experiences or advise they'd like to share, for other students in similar situations?

    I’m assuming that living away from home and with people you don’t really know is difficult, and brings challenges that other students might not face (e.g. disclosing to flatmates/friends, less family support, panic in the middle of the night, finding social stuff harder, etc)
    Have you found ways of dealing with difficulties like this? Do you do anything to try and help your mental health?

    It’d be great to hear some points of view (whatever mental health difficulty you experience) – especially positive ones!
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    (Original post by Anonymous)
    Hey
    I’m going to be moving into Uni halls in September – it’s not for a while, but I’ve been thinking about how I’m going to deal with it in terms of mental health difficulties (especially anxiety & panic).

    So I'm wondering if anyone who's lived/living at Uni with a mental health issue - and especially in halls with strangers - has any positive stories, experiences or advise they'd like to share, for other students in similar situations?

    I’m assuming that living away from home and with people you don’t really know is difficult, and brings challenges that other students might not face (e.g. disclosing to flatmates/friends, less family support, panic in the middle of the night, finding social stuff harder, etc)
    Have you found ways of dealing with difficulties like this? Do you do anything to try and help your mental health?

    It’d be great to hear some points of view (whatever mental health difficulty you experience) – especially positive ones!
    Hi. I'll be honest I don't have the best story about hall life so i'll make that part quick. I moved to uni when I was in a very rough place. I had OCD and depression and was too scared to go out of my room most of the time. I was exhausted all the time so was bad at washing and my stuff was often left in/ by the sink making a mess. Due to both that and issues with the course I had to drop out. It wasn't the end of the world though and once my mental health was better I went back to uni and got DSA support which meant I could live out of halls by myself.
    Not the most motivational story, but I was in a very bad place when I went so it was unavoidable for me.

    Some advice:
    I would try to make friends with your hall mates asap. Maybe bring some snacks when you move and offer them around (when my brother went into halls it was somebodys birthday and cake went a long way).
    Try to hang out in the social parts of the hall a bit so you can bump into people and try to get involved i any freshers stuff. Most friendships are formed in freshers so even if you don't want to do that sort of stuff the rest of the year try to get involved for the first couple of weeks.
    Maybe try to prompt a social moment with your hall. If you have a game of some sort suggest everybody get together and have a game and a few drinks.
    I know a lot of people with anxiety have issues of some sort with driking (for me my meds meant I couldn't), but if that is the case for you you can still hang out and have a coke or something. If you shove it in a plastic cup most people won't notice and they probably won't care anyway.
    If you are catered go sit with somebody or a group of people at meals. People from your hall would be a good choice, but if you are too anxious to do that look for another person sitting alone. Remember everybody is in the same friendless boat when you start so it's totally normal to just find some stranger to sit with. Try to find the same people each time.
    If you are self catered try to eat at the same time as others and in the social area. Don't run and hide in your room like I did.
    Tell somebody about your anxiety when you feel comfortable. Just a brief mention will let them know and hopefully mean they make a bit more of an effort to include you and make you feel comfortable.
    Small courtacies go a long way. Leave your washing up liquid out for everybody to use some, offer bits and bobs if people look like they need them, smile and say hi if you see your hall mates outside. It sounds like really basic stuff but with the hectic first days it can be easy to forget.
    Imagine your hall mates as siblings.

    If you have any problems go see the hall manager! They are your mum/ dad when you are at uni. They have been the shoulder to cry on, the cleaner of vomit, the directions, the emergency advice and much more to so many students before you. They are there for support so use them.

    Good luck. Hope you have a good time at uni
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    Unfortunately I don't have a positive tale either when it comes to halls. I can't wait to leave tbh. Good luck to you though!
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    Thanks Kindred, I'll bear all that in mind - hope you're in a better place now & Airmed, good luck with whatever you're doing next year too
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    My biggest advice (and it's probably controversial) is don't disclose to your flatmates. Not for a while. It can be a good thing but you also run the risk of people who don't know you and aren't invested in you feeling like they don't want to deal with your problems and ending up isolating yourself. Don't feel that just because you live with someone they need to know what's going on for you, if you wouldn't disclose to everyone you know in your general life, treat flatmates the same.

    Try and look at uni as a fresh start, of course moving doesn't mean you're going to suddenly overcome your problems but give things a go and try not to assume there will be problems where there hasn't been one yet. Social situations can be tough but if you try and throw yourself in the deep end at first you might be able to give yourself more confidence to keep trying things. In the next few months you can try and put yourself in uncomfortable situations to show yourself that you can do it and get through it.

    Don't rely too heavily on alcohol (assuming you will be drinking). It's normal to drink and to be honest it's normal to drink heavily at first but try and be self aware, if you're starting to drink just because you can't handle the situation you're in then it's time to call it and either remove yourself from the situation or force yourself to deal without alcohol for a short period.

    There will be masses of things going on in the first few weeks, try and get involved where you can but practice self care too so it doesn't get too much. If you need a night off to have some quiet time alone then take one, better to attend half the nights and look like you're enjoying yourself than attend all of them and burn out and look miserable. Take care of yourself in other ways, get regular exercise, eat well and try and get enough sleep. Try and make sure that the stresses of your course don't build up, keep on top of your work and coursework and speak to someone if you need to.

    You can still get a lot of family support from a distance, between texting and skype it's pretty easy to keep in touch now. It's probably worth working on dealing with panic attacks alone if you haven't already so that you don't end up with someone panicking and calling an ambulance when they find you struggling to breath one night.

    Also: might be worth contacting your university disability department even if you're choosing not to apply as a disabled student just to touch base in case you need any additional support further down the line and register with a local GP asap so you've got that line of support as well.
 
 
 
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