I'm worried going to university will ruin my mental health

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Anonymous #1
#1
Report Thread starter 7 months ago
#1
I'm currently on a gap year after my A-Levels. Initially I deferred my uni place because I was so stressed about exams, and preparing for uni at the same time took a toll on me. Now I'm 6 months into my gap year and to be honest, I've never felt worse. I struggled to find a job at first because I had no job experience but then managed to get a temporary retail job, which I worked from around Halloween until New Year. Since then, however, I lack motivation to do anything at all. I just want to stay in my bed all day.

I have also been looking for studio accommodation for my first year (I have issues with being socially anxious - if I had no choice but to live with strangers I wouldn't have applied to uni at all). However, my search isn't going well and it's making me doubt my decision to go to uni at all. I've started overthinking everything - am I ready to move out? Am I making a mistake? However, the course I am doing has a year abroad in second year and I don't want my first time being away from home to be on the other side of the world. Last week, I had a panic attack while I was looking for accommodation.

I have also been questioning if uni is the right place for me. The course I have applied to is so intense and fast-paced and now I'm really doubting I can do well. I also heard from other people doing the course that the lecturers and teachers can be brutal with their words when you're not doing well. Not that that's a bad thing, but I am in a particularly fragile position at the moment. But this is the only subject I have a passion for... I really want to go but I feel like I'll just end up dropping out anyway. I don't know what to do. I've been crying every day over this because I feel so stuck and like I don't have a future - I can't deal with the thought of going to uni but I also can't deal with jobs such as those in retail because I struggle so much being around people. I just want to stop feeling rubbish every day, and I want to be able to easily get up in the morning without the weight of all the stress and anxiety. I worked so hard and got really good grades in my A-Levels, but now it feels like I did it all for nothing.

I want to note that I haven't been diagnosed with any mental health issues because, although I have tried to open up to my parents about them, they always just say that I will grow out of it and I lack initiative and confidence to go to the doctors by myself... I really want help but I don't know what to do, I can't see any sort of future for myself anymore. Does anyone have any advice or similar experiences?
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Anonymous #2
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Hey, I am a very anxious person too and I also struggle to find motivation.

Uni was helpful for me. It gave me something to work towards and I didn’t feel so worthless all the time because I felt like I was actually achieving something. I did skip out on most of my lectures, which was probably a bad thing, but I did work really hard when it came to coursework and exams. Uni wasn’t really that scary at all – in terms of the workload, I found it much less stressful than my A-levels. And the people around you don’t care enough to judge you. They’re actually pretty nice if you give them the chance. The biggest problem I had was all the free time – the more free time I have, the more I struggle to feel motivated. Because I realised that this was what was making me unhappy, I tried to make sure I went for walks every day and to do something that made me feel productive even if it was just doing shopping, cleaning or washing. I also volunteered once a week at a charity bookstore. Even though I didn’t want to get out of bed, I was so much happier once I went.

I would not recommend living alone. I lived with a bunch of strangers in first year and it really wasn’t so bad (except for how messy and loud they can be!). I got used to them and they got used to me. Once people get to know you, they tend to accept your awkwardness and that sometimes you want to be alone and they’ll let you do your thing. I did live by myself in fourth year and I have never been so miserable. Even though I’m not a ‘people person’, I was so lonely. Because I struggled to approach people and because I wasn’t forced to socialised with people at home, I isolated myself and my anxieties became even worse because of this.

I also did a year abroad in my third year. It was scary because I thought I wouldn’t fit in and that people would think I was weird. But it forced me out of my comfort zone and I met the most amazing people. It made me just a little more confident that there is nothing wrong with who I am. And it also felt like an achievement, like I was doing something with my life.

I didn’t use the opportunities at uni as well as I should have and I would definitely recommend you take advantage of the social gatherings etc. Even so, as cliché as it sounds, it did help me to find out more about myself and to be more accepting of who I am. If nothing else, it made me realise that I am capable of doing things by myself even if I did spend a few days in bed or playing games.

If you are passionate about the subject you want to study, do it! Just throw yourself into it and see what happens. The worst that can happen is that you’ll decide you don’t want to do it and that is okay but you’ll never know unless you try it. It also gives you a few extra years to decide what you want to do.
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MidgetFever
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There is a lot of support at universities for mental health, both on the social side (societies and activities) and in the diagnostic and support side.

The only issue is that you will need to take the initiative and go to people for this support. I won't lie to you, university can be stressful, but you won't be going through any of this alone.

Plenty of students will be going through the same thing, and you'll find that a lot of them are supportive and will be willing to talk about it too. You'll have a personal tutor you can go to if you find you're struggling with your course, or if there's anything going on in your life that may affect your studies, they'll be able to advise you on what to do and where to look out for certain things. There will be a mental health centre at your university too, where you can get free counselling or therapy if needed.
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Anonymous #3
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Report 7 months ago
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I finished my a levels in 2019, went to uni in Sep 2019 and left January 2020. I had to leave as my mental health did a massive nose dive, I struggle with anxiety (social anxiety) hugely and other stuff but my anxiety got so bad I was too anxious to leave my room for days at a time. I was going to get a studio flat, but changed my mind as I didn’t want to be lonely like I was at college (didn’t make any friends) and thought it would be okay. Honestly wish I got the studio flat as it turns out being with strangers and not having my own space really affected me, I most likely would still be at uni. I would recommend staying by yourself if your anxiety is bad. In my 4 months at uni I only went into the kitchen 3 times, so I ended up not eating due to fear of being around others.

Have you considered getting therapy whilst you’re on your gap year?
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Anonymous #1
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Report Thread starter 7 months ago
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(Original post by Anonymous)
I finished my a levels in 2019, went to uni in Sep 2019 and left January 2020. I had to leave as my mental health did a massive nose dive, I struggle with anxiety (social anxiety) hugely and other stuff but my anxiety got so bad I was too anxious to leave my room for days at a time. I was going to get a studio flat, but changed my mind as I didn’t want to be lonely like I was at college (didn’t make any friends) and thought it would be okay. Honestly wish I got the studio flat as it turns out being with strangers and not having my own space really affected me, I most likely would still be at uni. I would recommend staying by yourself if your anxiety is bad. In my 4 months at uni I only went into the kitchen 3 times, so I ended up not eating due to fear of being around others.

Have you considered getting therapy whilst you’re on your gap year?
Yeah, that's exactly why I want to get a studio flat. I have considered therapy but my parents are not really supportive of it and I'm so anxious about going alone And I lost contact with other friends who would've come with me when they went to uni in September
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marinade
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The NHS thinks around 70% of anxiety is not picked up by health professionals (for a variety of reasons). Undiagnosed anxiety is relatively common, although it's believed that much of it is at the milder end.

Unfortunately, families often aren't always that helpful with mental health and it then means you have to do it with the help of others/on your own, but you can do this, you can get the help. Families can be actively unhelpful too, sometimes people are very anti-talking therapy, this is something that's relatively common in the adult population.

As it happens when I finished my A-levels I thought I couldn't hack it at uni, so I deferred then to deal with that I then went out and got a job AFTER to justify this. The gap year for me wasn't great either. I had a bit of initial employment, then a gap of 3 months and then another job. Although that was actually my experience, I actually think everyone's different. When you've been to uni and talked to a lot of people you realise that there isn't an answer. Some people go to uni in your situation and flourish. Others go and drop out. Some don't go and flourish. Some don't go and that's the wrong decision. There is no real way of knowing which way it'll go. If someone knows a person very well, there may be an indication of how things are going.

There is help at universities, I'm not going to pretend it's great though. I'm on my third institution and a bit shocked things haven't 'moved on' that much. It's also very variable. One of the most important factors is how long people wait before seeking help. I would agree with another poster that there is a lot of support within the student community and societies.

Also a general point, it's very difficult to assess how 'severe' someone's mental health is from what they 'do'. So someone could get top grades at college/uni and have a lot of problems with anxiety/depression/other. Contrary to myth the employment rate for people with mental health conditions is about half of what it is for the general population. Generalisation, but if you talk to lots of and lots of adults with mental health conditions very often they are quite well adapted/just able to cope with one sphere of their life such as work/study/relationships and the other areas can start having problems falling apart and affect each other. This tends to lead people who don't have mental health problems to think that the person is fine, but just needs to improve on how they deal with relationships/work/study/friendships etc.
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999tigger
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(Original post by Anonymous)
I'm currently on a gap year after my A-Levels. Initially I deferred my uni place because I was so stressed about exams, and preparing for uni at the same time took a toll on me. Now I'm 6 months into my gap year and to be honest, I've never felt worse. I struggled to find a job at first because I had no job experience but then managed to get a temporary retail job, which I worked from around Halloween until New Year. Since then, however, I lack motivation to do anything at all. I just want to stay in my bed all day.

I have also been looking for studio accommodation for my first year (I have issues with being socially anxious - if I had no choice but to live with strangers I wouldn't have applied to uni at all). However, my search isn't going well and it's making me doubt my decision to go to uni at all. I've started overthinking everything - am I ready to move out? Am I making a mistake? However, the course I am doing has a year abroad in second year and I don't want my first time being away from home to be on the other side of the world. Last week, I had a panic attack while I was looking for accommodation.

I have also been questioning if uni is the right place for me. The course I have applied to is so intense and fast-paced and now I'm really doubting I can do well. I also heard from other people doing the course that the lecturers and teachers can be brutal with their words when you're not doing well. Not that that's a bad thing, but I am in a particularly fragile position at the moment. But this is the only subject I have a passion for... I really want to go but I feel like I'll just end up dropping out anyway. I don't know what to do. I've been crying every day over this because I feel so stuck and like I don't have a future - I can't deal with the thought of going to uni but I also can't deal with jobs such as those in retail because I struggle so much being around people. I just want to stop feeling rubbish every day, and I want to be able to easily get up in the morning without the weight of all the stress and anxiety. I worked so hard and got really good grades in my A-Levels, but now it feels like I did it all for nothing.

I want to note that I haven't been diagnosed with any mental health issues because, although I have tried to open up to my parents about them, they always just say that I will grow out of it and I lack initiative and confidence to go to the doctors by myself... I really want help but I don't know what to do, I can't see any sort of future for myself anymore. Does anyone have any advice or similar experiences?
Have you posted and I have responded to this before? It all seems very familiar, just so I can avoid repeating myself to the same anonymous poster.
Your situation scream to me of mh issue, dont go because Uni is the last place you want to be in most cases with a mh condition. get it under control before you go.

Also sceptical about the studio as that could increase your anxiety and sense of isolation.

Find a job or activity that is sideways involved with people. You cant avoid them completely because you need to build up social skills, self esteem and confidence. The reason you do it before uni is to avoid uni being an expensive mistake and to actually enjoy it. You need to get some help. It appears you havent been diagnosed with anything because you havent been to the GP and told them. Social anxiety can be crippling, but you can overcome it. A lot of those with mh issues tend to end up in denial, happens on a regular basis on TSR, definitely fortnightly maybe even weekly. Hope you dont let it happen to you, this isnt to scare you but its a very common pattern.
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Jasmine528
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#8
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Hi,
I started university a few months ago struggling badly with anxiety and depression. I was lucky though as I had a friend from sixth form go to the same uni to be able to support me and go to the doctors with me. I know it's really difficult to reach out to a GP (I definitely would have at least taken longer without my friends) but if you did this soon you might be in a better position to go to university and I spent ages putting off going but found it very worthwhile when I finally did. Hope you manage to do something to help with your anxiety, as I know it can be really rough x
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