First of all, congratulations on starting what will probably be one of the best times of your life! No doubt there will be plenty of articles in this edition to tell you all about how great ANU will be. But I’m here to share some of my story and provide advice for those more difficult times you may face at uni.
BeyondBlue estimates that around 45% of people in Australia will experience a mental health condition at some point in their lives.
I remember the fear the first time I had a real panic attack. My body seized up and I was shaking all over. I was at a mates place in Sydney during the January holidays after I’d just come back from a summer course. I was crying uncontrollably and was certain that I was going to die. The people I was staying with had experienced anxiety before and were hesitant to take me to the hospital when I begged them to take me. I was scared, I didn’t know what it was but I felt as though something was killing me.
Over 3 million Australians having anxiety or depression during any given year.
I can only describe it as being closed in a pitch black room filled with the thing you fear most and no exits… no help. It is a total darkness. I spent that night in the hospital and then realised that I probably needed help for what was rapidly becoming a totally out of control case of anxiety, depression and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I was about to start my second year at ANU.
1 in 4 people experience anxiety, with 1 in 6 battling depression.
My biggest problem was admitting to myself that I might be suffering from anxiety. Only a handful of my friends really knew how I felt in a crowded room. These people also became my biggest asset in dealing with the issue. They would calm me when I was panicked, regardless of the hour of day, or my state at the time.
At least 6 Australians take their own life every day.
Here are some tips for your journey through ANU. First, reach out. It doesn’t sound hard, but this can be the most difficult step for a lot of people. Your friends and family will be your most supportive assets here, and if you’re not comfortable telling them, you can go to ANU counselling or call BeyondBlue for advice. Second, educate yourself about what you’re dealing with. You’ll find a lot of useful videos on YouTube and Google is great for pretty much everything under the sun. Third, and most important, don’t stop your life!
Anxiety got in the way of mine, and stopped me from truly enjoying my university experience. I didn’t go out with my friends, I stopped exercising as much because I feared for my health. I started living in a bubble. Once you know what you’re dealing with, try as hard as you can to engage with the world around you. ANU has so many things on offer and no doubt your O-Week calendar will be filled to the borders. Which also means that if you’re still reading this, the party started 5 minutes ago so get out there and be mindful of your mental wellbeing.