I’m going to do a couple of posts over the next few days centering around specific moments of psychological breakdowns since I have started attending the University of Exeter continuing until the present. Have no fear of being exposed to every deep, dark and dirty moment from the past three years; I am simply planning to lay out my rock bottom moments, one for each year. I believe they might be good indicators of how the disorders develop and how I dealt with their consequences with an increasing amount of assistance from various university services.
As Maria teaches in “The Sound of Music”, the beginning is ‘a very good place to start’, so let’s commence by returning to a night during the third term of my Fresher’s year when the world began to seriously spin out of control.
A manifestation – the very worst kind – of my social anxiety is hallucination. It happens but rarely, however, I challenge you to remain calm when see what you think are real shadows coming out of the darkest places of your rather large studio flat to scare and get you. On one of my many sleepless nights alone in Birks Grange Village, I started to see things and called Estate Patrol when I fled my flat and sought refuge in the cold night (or it might have been early morning by that point) air.
The amazing and compassionate estate patrol people put me back into my room and stayed at my side, first confiscating my kitchen knives, until another wellbeing services worker came to talk me down and sit with me until dawn.
During the time she sat with me, I managed to self-soothe…eventually and regain my self-control. She even helped me get back outside as I had not left my flat for a week and that entails only eating Domino’s pizza (imagine how much I was spending) and not being able to face leaving to take my rubbish outside, so also image the state of the place, though to be honest, you may not wish to.
Where some people have brilliant experiences in student halls, I did not. It was not through any out-of-character behaviour of the people I shared the corridor with, it was more that I did not make a good and sociable first impression and that my room was right at the end of the corridor and not at the door end, which would have been helpful! It meant that I had to walk the length of the corridor to get out and the other occupants of the first floor preferred to stand or sit in the corridor and socialise. The sitting was fine though it meant I would stay in my room, but the standing on either side, something I came to call ‘forming the gauntlet’ as I am a fan of C.S. Forester’s Horatio Hornblower series, was petrifying for me. It felt like I was being constricted and watched by them and I knew they were all friends as they got up to some loud and drunken games during the night most nights of the week, so it was pretty difficult to take for a quiet, isolated girl.
So, you can see just through what I experienced culminating in that night in my first year that not only is depression expensive and results in an incredibly unhealthy way of living but also that with help (and admitting to begin with that you require it!) the cycle of self-loathing, fear and denial can be broken.
Before I wrap this up for today, I would just like to praise the university’s Estate Patrol for rescuing me and knowing how to deal with me properly. The lady who came to see me was part of the university’s emergency response team, but I don’t recall what division specifically, but whatever category they fall under, they do brilliant and crucial work in and around the campus. She was the one who told me to get an appointment with the best doctor I’ve ever seen and continue to see at the Student Health Centre and even came with me to my first appointment, so I really do owe every positive step I’ve made since that horrific night to that woman, Estate Patrol and my doctor.
Thank you for reading!