By Roisin O’Donoghue
University is wonderful, but it can also be rather terrifying. You’re thrown into a world of study, experiments and debating all of which can totally overwhelm you even if you enjoy it. University is also a place where you learn not just about the world but also about who you are as a person. You discover new interests, new friends, what type of person you want to be and what your place in the world really is. Some of these revelations may not be what you expected or even what you like.
My own experience of this was rough. In school I had no particular identity and nothing stood out about me, not that standing out is that important. However, I felt that I didn’t have a personality, people skills or a life in general. Coming to UL changed all that. Starting my course I found what I was passionate about, what kind of person I was and I began to see that there is a place in the world for me. However, my self-image still had not improved much and I harboured a lot of resentment and bitterness from the years before. Meeting new people and learning about how much there was to be achieved in life didn’t excite me but rather paralysed me. Insecurity and confusion about the right way to be infiltrated my brain and I couldn’t see any aspect of myself that was worth acknowledging. I knew I was not behaving rationally but the fog wouldn’t lift.
All hope was not lost though as UL has an amazing attitude towards mental health and caring for the students. I was advised to seek help from the free counselling service which provided me with a safe way of airing my grievances without being told I was overreacting or that my problem wasn’t bad enough to care about. I explained how I was feeling and it helped a lot. Although your mental health is something that can be both strong and fragile and this means that it takes looking after. Even now I still have moments, days and weeks of greyness and because I’ve got used to it it’s almost become a comfort but I can’t stay trapped in it forever.
Coming to university means exposing yourself to the world and this will likely lead you to take on a new perspective of it and yourself. If you are struggling with your mental or emotional health I would strongly urge you to seek help from someone. As I’ve said UL is brilliant in how helpful it can be to its student body so don’t be afraid to get the help you need.