Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Deerly Beloved

Over the weekend, I came across the story of Rachel Williams, a Yale student, who was told by a senior member of staff: "We just can't have you here." The reason being that, as a result of her mental health, Rachel did not fit into Yale's picture of itself. She was turned out by the university that had become her home and treated like a worrisome stain rather than as a student. Rachel's story led me to reflect on my own experiences at the University of Bristol and made me eternally thankful for the help, support and kindness that I received from its staff. When I first sought help, I went to the University's Student Health Service, which is dedicated solely to students and gives excellent care. I spoke to a wonderfully kind doctor who has supported me on every step of my journey towards better mental health. As soon as she had assessed me and prescribed me Sertraline (SSRI, aka. Zoloft; Lustral), I was sent upstairs to Student Counselling who got me a next-day assessment. After which, I accessed one-to-one counselling with a woman who helped me see the scars in my past and helped me to start to build a new life. I attended group therapies and learnt about the origins of my poor self-esteem. When Sertraline didn't help, I went back to the doctors and Venlafaxine (SNRI, aka. Effexor) was prescribed. When it felt like none of the meds were working and I just wanted to give up, I was given an urgent referral to see a psychiatrist. Several months later with new medication and therapy, my depression is manageable. I might not yet enjoy being alive but I can tolerate it. I can get through days without collapsing under the strain of depression. 

The success of my story is due in part to the support that I received from Student Health along with the University. Rather than wishing to remove problematic students, Bristol seeks to find ways in which they can continue their education. When learning of my diagnosis, my Supervisor gave me the options of suspending my studies or going part-time. I chose to keep going but deadlines became more blurred and my health became the focus. Completion of my PhD was always the end-goal. I have never been in any doubt of the care and attention that the University and its Student Services lavish on each and every student whether they have a cold or depression. 

If you are a student at Bristol, please do go to Student Health or Counselling for confidential and non-judgemental support. Please don't suffer in silence.

For me, this is the ultimate Spring Envy outfit. Spring Envy is what I call that feeling when you want it to be Spring but it's still Winter.  All the beautiful new Spring clothes are in the shops but the weather refuses to let you wear anything but cardigans, jumpers and scarves. This outfit is perfect for the transitional mood that I'm feeling. The deer print blouse gives a nod to Winter while the skirt looks forward to the Spring and Summer months of nautical fashion to come.

How are you coping with Spring Envy?

Cardigan: H&M
Blouse: Joules (similar)
Skirt: Primark (current)

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