A student’s guide to depression: Rachel

What was your experience of university?

“I loved the general day-to-day university life. I really enjoyed lectures, seminars and workshops, and being around others who were interested in the same things. I also ran a society at university relating to my course and met a lot of my now lifelong friends through this! However, university was not without its down points which mostly started in second year through exam periods. I would close myself away from the world and almost became reclusive as I wanted to achieve a lot in my exams (who wouldn't) but I had two particular modules that I really struggled with and the exams had been pulled forward to BEFORE Christmas instead of after, for a trial. These two module exams were one day after the next! It was the worst, because I really struggled with them. I don't think I ate very well at this point and just barely slept ... then I slept too much because I was exhausted and ultimately did not do as well as I had planned for in these exams.”

      

Did you find support in university?
“I tried the counselling services a few times at university which was when I had some personal issues in third year and exams were just getting on top of me, as well as all the extra-curricular stuff I was doing. However, I found that the best support was my friends. We all understood each other because we were in the same situation or similar situations, and so we would support each other, which in turn helped us.”

What are your tips for coping with depression at university?

“My friends are a fantastic support network for me. But I focused on keeping myself busy and did things I enjoyed. I worked with Student Minds during university, working as a Group Facilitator, and I ran events for the Psychology Society. This kept me busy going to events and meeting new people so my tip is just to keep busy with things you enjoy; don't be afraid to talk to people about your feelings and be with friends and family when you can.”

What is your experience now that you have graduated from university?

“I came out of university and was lucky to go straight into a few different jobs where I gained some good experience. I now have a job doing market research which links to my psychology degree. I have moved back home which has both advantages and disadvantages, but I have been able to afford a car which is great to get out and about to see my friends, keeping me busy still. I am also on my way to affording a place to rent.”


What would you tell new students about graduating and what it's like?

“Graduating is such a bittersweet day. It's amazing seeing friends and family, and that sense of achievement on the day! But it is sad finishing university, as I really enjoyed it and it’s sad knowing that people will move away back to their homes before university.”



Is life after university like you expected it to be ?

“I think I knew it would be hard but I didn't realise quite how hard it would be to find a job. I initially thought it would be easy to go into further education and specialise in psychology, but with prices going up, there's no way I could afford £7k+ to do a masters ... I still couldn't now! There's also a perception that you will walk straight into a job and be able to afford a flat to rent. I'm still back at home two years after graduating but I'm slowly making my way up to where I want to be. I have a car, and a job in research which is partially linked to my degree. I tried working in the clinical area of psychology, but did not realise the level of experience I needed to get an assistant psychologist job! I guess it's something that's not made explicitly clear at university during the degree. I quickly realised after working in the care sector upon graduating, that the angle I wanted to take in the psychology world was not for me. I am now on a different path and am happy with where I am.

Basically, it does take a while to get to where you want to be. I'm still not there after two years, and there are times where things get really tough. However, trial and error helps to give a direction, and any experience is useful experience in the world of work. Just keep going. With enough determination and perseverance, you'll get to where you want to be.”

We would like to thank Student Minds and Rachel - who is a Student Minds voulnteers - for providing us with this article. 
Student Minds is the UK's student mental health charity. They empower students with the knowledge and skills they need to cope with their own mental health and offer them a safe support group. 

You can support Student Minds by going to their website and following them @StudentMindsOrg 



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