University is one of the biggest steps in life, which makes it hard for everyone, but perhaps even more so for those with mental health problems such as anxiety or depression. Here are a few tips to help make the transition into university as easy and beneficial as possible!
1) Register with your university's mental health services. This can be a serious help. I registered with mine when I registered as a student in the summer before university, and it made me feel so much more comfortable to know that I already had people who knew my problems and could help me. Together we worked out a system for exams - in Year 13 exams were a real problem for me, and I didn't want to take that chance again, as it really affected my academic ability. I was allowed to do exams in a room by myself with extra time and rest breaks should I need them. This massively improved my confidence for my exams, as I knew that I would be in a relaxed and comfortable environment.
2) Tell someone about your problems. If you have at least one friend who knows that you are struggling, this can take the weight off your shoulders. I made sure to tell my flatmates when I moved in, as I suspected that my anxiety would be at its worst in the proceeding days. They then knew the signs of when something was wrong, and when I might need support. As well as this, from talking about it, I have met other people with similar problems who understand how hard it can be, and we have worked through the hard times together.
3) Don't hide away. You might feel safest holed up in your bedroom, but resist the temptation to do this all of the time, otherwise it will become a habit that is very hard to break. Even if it is just a quiet night in with a friend or two, it's great to socialise, and you will feel so much better for it! It's horrible to feel like you're missing out on things because your anxiety or depression is holding you back. Perhaps start in situations that are in your comfort zone, and then work on pushing yourself beyond this.
4) Don't push yourself too hard. Don't feel like you have to experience everything, just take it one step at a time. Small victories are the key. Accomplishing a goal can feel so good, but then can sometimes give you the confidence to agree to something that you are actually not comfortable with. You don't have to push yourself all the time - it's still ok to have a night on your own, watching your favourite film.
5) Don't give up. Setbacks can ruin your confidence and get you down. But give yourself a few days to recover, then pick yourself up and try again. You will not regret it. There may be times when you want to go home and never come back to university. Yet, with patience and determination, you will get through it. If you want it enough, you can do it.
Be strong. I believe in you!