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Post Graduation – My Anxiety and Mental Health

So, I knew I had to write this post, but posts like this are hard. I don’t know who my audience is aside from a few friends, basic demographics, and my mum. So if you know me personally, please know in advance I am fine. But basically, whilst I’ve mentioned having anxiety a few times on my blog and on social media, I haven’t shared a lot about it. I haven’t talked about my story, how I knew I had a mental illness, or other people’s treatment of me because of it. But recently it really took it’s toll on me, even in a very mild way. And I want to share it in case in case it helps anyone at all realiseĀ their emotions are always valid!

So, the basics you need to know – I graduated university on Wednesday 20th of June. And I’ve had anxiety for as long as I can remember. In all honestly, I think I was in high school when it started. But that’s not important. What’s important is that all through my academic career, I’ve had anxiety that has largely gone untreated.

On my graduation day I was a picture of pure happiness. Surrounded by my family, I chatted to my classmates comfortably and spent the whole day with a massive grin on my face. I was perfectly happy until a few days afterwards, when photos started popping up on Facebook. I started to realise that, in spending time with my family, I’d missed out on getting involved in group photos with my classmates, bar a couple with my friend Laura. I also decided not to attend an awards ceremony after the actual graduation ceremony, due to the fact I knew I wouldn’t win anything and wanted to spend time with my parents. So when all the official photos came out, along with my classmate’s photos, I wasn’t in any of them. And whilst that didn’t really matter, it did make me feel pretty lonely. All through uni you’re told about making those “friend’s for life”. And in that moment I just felt like I’d failed.

I also felt like a failure academically – I achieved a 2:1, as had many people, but felt like I could’ve done better. A lot of people got 1st’s. I just kept thinking if I’d have put more effort in, gotten closer to my professors or peers, and been less lazy about things, I could’ve reached that point. But I didn’t. The actual achievement I made was overshadowed by the fact I could have done better if I’d just tried a little harder.

It also didn’t help that photos of the previous day’s ceremonies came out, and in amongst them were pictures of my ex best friend, who also emotionally abused me. I’d managed to avoid her from the moment I walked out of her life 2 years ago. Seeing a photo of her again triggered me. And these combined factors led to my mood taking a nose dive.

For the weeks afterwards, I forgot myself. I missed deadlines. I stopped going on social media. I stopped considering my blog. I had no passion for anything. And I started oversleeping again – a pretty solid sign of my anxiety being it’s worst is when I physically cannot handle waking up to an alarm. And all I kept thinking about was how lonely I felt. The cats provided cuddles, and Tom was very supportive, but it took me two weeks to get my head together.

I handle my anxiety – I’ve had it for a long time and I’ve never let it stop me. Thankfully, I’ve made some solid friends in the Aberdeen blogging community and after a night out with a few of them, I really did start to feel a bit more connected. After that, I confessed to Tom that I hadn’t had a great time after graduation, and he admitted he knew. Confronting my feelings has helped, but I’m still finding my feet.

Following graduation, it did start to hit me that university was over and I had to start anew. Missing out on group shots wasn’t the end of the world – I still had a great time at graduation and have made some amazing friends at uni. But I know why I have such high walls and why I struggled to make many close connections at uni. Those that I did make, I really treasure and am so grateful for (you know who you are). And I don’t regret choosing to spend my day with my family – I had such a good time and drank a lot of prosecco! And ultimately, I move away in September, erasing any chance of accidentally running into my emotional abuser again.

And today, I finally have the strength to open up Twitter, share blog posts again, and write. I finally feel back to where I should be.

I finally feel unstoppable again.

I hope this helps anyone that’s not feeling their best right now. Whatever you need to do to handle this period, you got this! We will make it through this eventually!

Rachel

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2 Comments

  1. July 14, 2018 / 8:57 pm

    Rachel, your feelings straight after graduation resonate so much with me! I was a bit of an outsider to “the A team” as they called themselves on my architecture course (yes, I’m being serious) and spending time with my family and fiance on the day of graduation meant that I missed the photos and big celebrations. It’s been three years now, somehow, and it doesn’t matter an ounce, but at the time I was so disappointed. I have three friends from university that I see twice a year if I’m lucky now. They’re wonderful, but there is so much more to life than your university years. I hate when people say that, there are so many amazing years still to come!

    Emma x

    • July 16, 2018 / 5:44 pm

      Thank you for this lovely comment! It’s nice to know I’m not alone here, and that it really doesn’t matter in the long run! X

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