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Should I defer university for a year and become a mature student in 2018 Watch

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    I’m going to start this by saying I need a degree and I’m bright. My hope is to one day be an English teacher, lawyer or writer so I need an undergraduate to progress in life. The degree content isn’t the liveliest but I can do it.

    Here is my situation:

    I'm 20 and I will be 21 on January 13th. I've suffered from a myriad of mental health issues since I was 13. My current diagnosis is Borderline Personality Disorder and Trichotillomania but I'm fairly certain my issues aren't limited to those who disorders.
    I've started a degree at the University of Bristol (English) this year despite being in education on and off since I was 12. The reason I'm two years late in starting university is because I had breakdowns at 17 and 19 that effectively ruined my A Levels (hospitalised in a secure unit in 2014 and unable to attend sixthform due to extreme BPD symptoms in 2016). I finished an Access of Higher education diploma in 2017 with perfect grades and that's what got me a place on the course.

    This year has been a disaster from the get go. Mental health services in my area are notoriously atrocious and since I turned 18 I have essentially had to manage my own mental health with very little professional support. I barely completed my Access Course as my health was poor throughout.

    What happened when I got to university:

    Moved out of home for the first time and into halls:
    Freshers week: Developed psychosis and derealisation/depersonalization, spent the week convinced the world wasn't real.
    Week 2-3: Slept around a lot due to crippling loneliness, mania and depression so intense I had no consistency. Cut my arms to ribbons.
    Week 4-5: Stopped eating completely, only drank water as boy in my halls called my chubby while having sex and triggered my dysmorphia.
    Week 6: Drank one 400 calorie protein shake a day and went to the gym in between lectures.
    Week 7: Parents catch on and I am brought home to "commute." Probably for the best as I'd gone past the point of terrifying my poor teenage floormates.
    Week 8-: Binge eating due to starvation diet, put on large amount of weight, cripplingly depressed, no friends, travel incredibly difficult, missing lectures ect. Right now I spend all day sleeping and all night eating basically with the occassional two trains down to suffer though a seminar.

    There's also the added issue of the university/services being downright awful with mental health.
    1. The moment I moved back to rural Gloucestershire student health refused to see me and I've had to reapply for mental health in my area which has a six month waiting list.
    2. DSA has only just come through but the taxi's they've "organised" won't be funded enough to be worthwhile so I'll still have to take two trains a day.
    3. If I want any of the resources I'm entitled to I'll have to sort all of it out as disability services are very poor; e.g. buy own laptop, book "mentoring" ect all while I'm cripplingly depressed with no end in sight.

    My options as they stand:

    Commute:

    Cons:

    1. I'm in the midst of a breakdown with no help for at least six months
    2. Getting to university will involve great personal cost
    3. I can pretty much guarantee limited help from university services
    4. I'll be taking multiple trains every day
    5. Have no social life whatsoever as there's no way I can manage it.
    6. I will be paying £9,000 to get stress eat, have no social life, hate myself and ruin my mental health more than I have already
    7. With how awful I am now I'm not sure if I physically can commute

    Pros

    1. I won't be a mature student and I won’t have to watch my school year graduate having not started
    2. I could potentially find SOMEONE to rent with me to negate costs in 2018
    3. I will be done with the horror that is university in 2020 rather than 2021
    4. This year only needs to be passed and I could use summer holidays to get slightly better then try to actually engage in my second year
    5. I won’t have to experience the shame of having dropped out and I won't have to see this year’s students in second year in 2018
    6. My life can actually start to become happy at 24 rather than 25

    Worst Case Scenario: I run myself into the ground trying to do this year and fail it, thereby meaning I have to repeat anyway.

    Defer:

    Cons

    1. I'll be 21 and history implies that I won't be any better
    2. I could potentially be trapped at home with my failure for a full year
    3. I will be lengthening the horrors of university by a year
    4. I will be likely to relate even less to freshers students than I did this year
    5. My school year will graduate and I will not

    Pros:

    1. It would give me time to potentially sort out DSA before arrival
    2. I can get some kind of mental health support in the interim
    3. I’ll be less likely to want to jump off the Clifton suspension bridge
    4. I will be eligible for mature student events and could make friends there (?)
    5. I can attempt to tackle my crippling self image issues so one comment doesn't break me
    6. I could get minimum wage job, earn and travel in the summer
    7. I won't have to be surrounded by happy, successful 18 year olds without crippling health issues for ten months.

    Worst Case Scenario: I spend the year in turmoil over having dropped out and do nothing with my time. I begin the year again in 2018 no better than I was just a year older and more self hating.

    Right now all my assignments to date are badly written but ultimately handed in. Essentially I'm only about two weeks behind due to reading week having just occurred. If I drag my bloated, cripplingly depressed self into lectures on Monday I can still salvage this year. I've also emailed enquiring about defering and the time has come to decide. What do I do?
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    You can go to university at any time, it doesn't matter, so you need to understand that first and foremost.

    Your current problems are not conducive to learning, and as you say you could potentially fail. If you're unable to cope currently I'd say it's better to defer for a year for health reasons and try and focus on improving your MH. I regret not intermitting in my final year, it almost cost me my life. Granted, I still graduated with a very good grade, but I was very ill. I should've put my health first, but I didn't even though it was suggested.

    RE: wanting to jump off a suspension bridge, if you're unable to keep yourself safe, you need to tell someone.

    And the whole "start to become happy at 24" - that's a cognitive distortion. You need to work on your MH for it to improve. It won't just magically be better because you have a degree or because you're a certain age.
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    (Original post by Pathway)
    You can go to university at any time, it doesn't matter, so you need to understand that first and foremost.

    Your current problems are not conducive to learning, and as you say you could potentially fail. If you're unable to cope currently I'd say it's better to defer for a year for health reasons and try and focus on improving your MH. I regret not intermitting in my final year, it almost cost me my life. Granted, I still graduated with a very good grade, but I was very ill. I should've put my health first, but I didn't even though it was suggested.

    RE: wanting to jump off a suspension bridge, if you're unable to keep yourself safe, you need to tell someone.

    And the whole "start to become happy at 24" - that's a cognitive distortion. You need to work on your MH for it to improve. It won't just magically be better because you have a degree or because you're a certain age.

    I know, I know what I should be doing. I just worked so hard to get to university and I really don't want to be a mature student as I'm pretty immature and self destructive.

    I'm clearly (not) recovering from a pretty severe breakdown right now and being in university is going to be down right impossible I just worry that I'll spiral on a gap year rather than recovering.
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    (Original post by Genie412)
    I know, I know what I should be doing. I just worked so hard to get to university and I really don't want to be a mature student as I'm pretty immature and self destructive.

    I'm clearly (not) recovering from a pretty severe breakdown right now and being in university is going to be down right impossible I just worry that I'll spiral on a gap year rather than recovering.
    I agree, it is possible that you could spiral further, but as you've already pointed out, being at university is making you a lot worse and it'll only carry on piling on the pressure. If your university is unable to help you (which is seems they're unable to do) then perhaps taking a break is the best option? Have you got a crisis plan? What does it say to do when things are this bad? I know you've been put on a waiting list, but for what exactly? Do you have a care coordinator? :console:
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      interesting question. I am in a similar boat
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      (Original post by Pathway)
      I agree, it is possible that you could spiral further, but as you've already pointed out, being at university is making you a lot worse and it'll only carry on piling on the pressure. If your university is unable to help you (which is seems they're unable to do) then perhaps taking a break is the best option? Have you got a crisis plan? What does it say to do when things are this bad? I know you've been put on a waiting list, but for what exactly? Do you have a care coordinator? :console:

      I have literally nothing right now. Any mental health support I was having with my GP ended when I was signed on to student health. Unfortunately without a BS- postcode I'm not student Health's problem even if I'm a student at the university.

      I had to go to my GP who has referred me back to 2gether but I'm on the bottom of the list now and I know from eight years in the service and working as an Expert by Experience that the wait is about six months.

      So until then it's just me, Ben and Jerry enjoying the breakdown and deciding whether we'll be trying to finish first year of this god awful degree.

      Honestly I put so much emphasis on going to university and being happy but it was the worst experience of my life.
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      Gotta decide whether the suffering is worth it. My best friend started her third attempt at doing a degree in Semptember and swears that it's always awful and just gets more awful with age (she's 22). So really it's pain now or marginally more pain later.

      If you think you will actually have fun on a gap year do it. Enjoy being young and free without the hell of university life. I just don't know if I'll spend the year purposeless and depressed.
      (Original post by Blackstarr)
      interesting question. I am in a similar boat
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      (Original post by Genie412)
      I have literally nothing right now. Any mental health support I was having with my GP ended when I was signed on to student health. Unfortunately without a BS- postcode I'm not student Health's problem even if I'm a student at the university.

      I had to go to my GP who has referred me back to 2gether but I'm on the bottom of the list now and I know from eight years in the service and working as an Expert by Experience that the wait is about six months.

      So until then it's just me, Ben and Jerry enjoying the breakdown and deciding whether we'll be trying to finish first year of this god awful degree.

      Honestly I put so much emphasis on going to university and being happy but it was the worst experience of my life.
      Given that you've been "in the system" for 8 years, I'm assuming you've had a care plan (even if it's no longer valid due to discharge)? What has it said to do? Does your area have an out-of-hours MH line that you can call (I know a lot of areas do have this now)? They may be able to either fast track the referral or give you a higher level of care (e.g. crisis team, inpatient) in the interim.
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      (Original post by Pathway)
      Given that you've been "in the system" for 8 years, I'm assuming you've had a care plan (even if it's no longer valid due to discharge)? What has it said to do? Does your area have an out-of-hours MH line that you can call (I know a lot of areas do have this now)? They may be able to either fast track the referral or give you a higher level of care (e.g. crisis team, inpatient) in the interim.
      I only really ever had a care plan when I was in hospital and even that was just lobotomy-inducing levels of medication and a good sleep schedule. I spent the entire time scrapbooking if I recall although I had to be watched when I had scissors.

      I didn’t have a care plan afterwards, in fact my psychiatrist wouldn’t prescribe me medication as there was “no specific medication for BPD” and I needed to be alert as I was perpetually studying for my level three (four bloody years).

      No, I coped because my parents managed every element of my life and after my breakdowns I just let myself be managed. My Dad drove me to college every morning and I ate very healthily/ went to the gym with my Mum. I had no social life whatsoever but I got Access Course with perfect marks to show for it.

      That was fine for my life before as I didn’t have a level three. I wasn’t there yet and I was doing a very intense course. Even then there were lots of tears and talks of drop outs because my BPD was completely out of control. I just did what I was told.

      This is completely different situation; I got my licence in September and I really can’t rely so heavily on my parents for university. I'm almost 21!

      As for immediate care, I could go to my GP and ask to be put in an inpatient unit again but I’d be a volunteer so the bottom of the waiting list. For anything immediate I’d need to be sectioned in A and E.
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      (Original post by Genie412)
      I only really ever had a care plan when I was in hospital and even that was just lobotomy-inducing levels of medication and a good sleep schedule. I spent the entire time scrapbooking if I recall although I had to be watched when I had scissors.

      I didn’t have a care plan afterwards, in fact my psychiatrist wouldn’t prescribe me medication as there was “no specific medication for BPD” and I needed to be alert as I was perpetually studying for my level three (four bloody years).

      No, I coped because my parents managed every element of my life and after my breakdowns I just let myself be managed. My Dad drove me to college every morning and I ate very healthily/ went to the gym with my Mum. I had no social life whatsoever but I got Access Course with perfect marks to show for it.

      That was fine for my life before as I didn’t have a level three. I wasn’t there yet and I was doing a very intense course. Even then there were lots of tears and talks of drop outs because my BPD was completely out of control. I just did what I was told.

      This is completely different situation; I got my licence in September and I really can’t rely so heavily on my parents for university. I'm almost 21!

      As for immediate care, I could go to my GP and ask to be put in an inpatient unit again but I’d be a volunteer so the bottom of the waiting list. For anything immediate I’d need to be sectioned in A and E.
      Hmm, OK. I think talking to your GP is the first thing you need to do come Monday - ask for an emergency appointment. Clearly, by your own admission, you're struggling a lot right now and you're not managing. So perhaps IP is the best place?

      Are you able to pay privately for therapy? That could be another avenue to look at for help, although I still think deferring is the best thing you can do for your MH. You have to put your health first above everything else.
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      (Original post by Pathway)
      Hmm, OK. I think talking to your GP is the first thing you need to do come Monday - ask for an emergency appointment. Clearly, by your own admission, you're struggling a lot right now and you're not managing. So perhaps IP is the best place?

      Are you able to pay privately for therapy? That could be another avenue to look at for help, although I still think deferring is the best thing you can do for your MH. You have to put your health first above everything else.
      My family REALLY doesn't have the money to pay for private therapy. I'd have to get a job if I wanted it and I can barely get out of my house.

      I'll get that emergency appointment but I seriously doubt I'll get anything. And I think you're probably right; thank you for replying to my post it means a lot.
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      (Original post by Genie412)
      My family REALLY doesn't have the money to pay for private therapy. I'd have to get a job if I wanted it and I can barely get out of my house.

      I'll get that emergency appointment but I seriously doubt I'll get anything. And I think you're probably right; thank you for replying to my post it means a lot.
      :hugs: I hope you're able to see someone who can help. No worries re: replying, I know how hard it is to cope with university and be severely mentally ill. It's not easy. :no:

      You could also come and check out the MHSS, you'd be able to get peer support from there.
     
     
     
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