Being at university when you have mental health problems is a challenging situation and I don’t think you ever really realise just how hard it is when all you can see is all the things you’re not doing.
You focus on the one bad grade rather than all of the good ones. You focus on the fact last semester you struggled to attend rather than the fact you’re attending so much more now. You don’t realise that what is an achievement for many of the people around you, and what is an achievement for you, is sometimes very different.
Sometimes getting out of bed is difficult for me, and it is not because I went out the night before because I don’t go out and I don’t drink. On these days I don’t want to face the day. I don’t want to get dressed, I don’t want to follow my meal plan and get breakfast and I definitely don’t want to leave the house. Doing all of these things and getting myself into a lecture can be the equivalent of climbing mount Everest, but they’re hardly things I can put on my CV.
It’s hard when surviving is an achievement and I can’t help but find myself wondering how I’ll ever get a job when many of my achievements aren’t things that an employer will be thrilled about.
I forget that my personal achievements that battling with my mental health problems has led to actually also translates into positive attributes that an employer would want.
I’m determined (ok, this is more that I am stubborn but lets be positive here!), I work very hard and I always get through my problems. I also care deeply and I appreciate things that many don’t. All of these things are, to some degree, a result of having mental health problems. It changes you, and not always for the worst.
Last semester anything was an achievement. I focused on getting through each day and I spent more time in hospital than I did in lectures. That’s alright. I did what I could. This semester I’ve not ended up in hospital so far, and despite things being tough, I am functioning at a higher level. I was going to say I’m doing better but I don’t like seeing it like that. Struggling isn’t the same as doing bad.
It’s important to realise that where you are right now is ok. That what is an achievement varies all of the time and its ok if today the best you can do is survive. I promise it won’t always be that way.
Don’t compare yourself to others, and don’t even compare yourself against what you could do another day. Focus on today, focus on acceptance. Focus on doing what you can do.