lifestyle, Mental Health

Freshers In The Light of Mental Health Issues

By Lauren Chancellor

As the term draws to an end many might blissfully think back to their more frivolous uni escapades, otherwise known as Freshers Week. Though, whilst some already count down to their next chance at socially acceptable binge drinking, the Freshers period can be a mine field for those suffering with mental health issues.

Lauren Chancellor bravely and intimately breaks down her troublesome battle with anxiety disorder, giving a rare insight into how Freshers might be not so fresh.

I’m a full time student, diagnosed with GAD, Social Phobia and Panic Dissorder of 4 years.

Freshers week is advertised to students as one of the best week at university. Filled with the promise of meeting new people, drinking games and of course a dreaded hangover. But what happens when you’re riddled with anxiety, to the point where leaving your room simply isn’t an option?

I fell at the first hurdle – meeting new people. The first day I arrived at my university campus I was greeted with open arms by my fellow housemates, only for me to lock myself in my room. I cried for what felt like days. The thought of putting myself out there for everyone to formulate opinions on simply horrified me. I was so scared of being judged by my peers it felt easier to just avoid them.

All the time, I’m sat there thinking, ‘the longer I stay in here, the harder it’s going to be when I leave’ and ‘I look so rude for not interacting with the people in my flat, what if they hate me? What if they think I’m being rude? Am I going to have to explain to them that I suffer with anxiety? If I do that will they think I’m weird? The cycle continues… Most of my days were spent longing to be back home with my friends and family. I wanted to be around people who I knew, who I could relate to and who I felt safe around; staring at the same 4 walls didn’t help.

Isolated, I began to to over-think everything. The few people that I had met, I’d created a thousand situations in my head in which I’d already messed up the ‘friendship’, or they were only talking to me because they had nobody else to hang out with, which put even more strain on my already difficult situation.

Anxiety around meeting new people is something that I tried so hard to make unnoticeable, to which I think I succeeded – nobody came out and asked me directly, ‘do you have anxiety?’.

Then came the evenings, I was expected to ‘dance my sorrows away’. Not the case. Instead, I opted for standing on the side lines, holding peoples drink making awkward dad dance moves. Not my finest hour. I had so many people encouraging me on to join in on the drinking games, hoping that it would bring me out of my shell a little. however unlike in the case of a ‘non-mentally-ill-person’ alcohol doesn’t bring out my confidence, it makes me even more aware of my own anxiety. The sweats and shakes increase, the sickness would become definite and my nervous stutter would get a show of it’s own. This is something I didn’t want to explain to my peers, resulting in me looking like a miserable bitch.

I had never felt more alone with my anxiety. I was surrounded by people having a great time. People were dancing, singing, sharing stories and drinking together – things I knew I was capable of doing, but my anxiety wouldn’t let me. It felt like being strapped to a chair whilst looking at an open door.

Freshers is presented in a light that offers opportunity and an exclusive chance to get yourself on the ladder to successful friendships. It provides chances to get involved with societies and other groups around universities. However, they don’t show you what happens to those students who get left behind.

At every university, there are undoubtable students whose anxiety is just too much to deal with the social pressure and expectations of Freshers week. And we’re still to see a change in the way the first weeks at university is dealt with. Nobody is saying there needs to me an ‘anxiety society’, or an introverts corner, but universities all over the country need to put more effort into the students who simply get left behind.

For any students who feel they have symptoms of anxiety I would recommend speaking to your GP about your options. Also, keeping your university up to date is key to making progression with your anxiety. Faculty cannot help you if you don’t reach out. Anxiety isn’t something you should be ashamed of, it’s a natural reaction to fear. It’s the way you process these feelings that create a certain outcome. There are many different ways you can treat your anxiety. Medication and different types of therapy (usually CBT) are the two main ways for treating anxiety, but there are also free workbooks available online.

Helpful links http://www.nopanic.org.uk/

http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/Pages/mental-health-helplines.aspx

Advertisements
Beauty, lifestyle

Teatox – fad or fab?

By Jasmine McRae

Jasmine sets to share her newfound and honest insight into the mysterious world of teatoxes.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt self-conscious about your body. I know I have. As young women we almost feel expected to try every diet, workout routine or new fitness fad in the book. And where does it leave us? Skint and frustrated at our lack of results.

I delved into the mystical world of Detox Teas at the end of last year. I was absolutely desperate for that summer bod; looking and feeling fabulous. Teatoxes are usually between £20 and £50, depending on the brand, the length of time you’ll be using them, and whether they contain any special ingredients or supplements too.

Hunting for a bargain, I ended up on the TeaMi website; a company that specialises in the topic. They have teas for everything: metabolism boosts, better sleep, increasing your cognitive function (no, really), and weight loss. Their basic weight loss teatox program costs an eye-watering £49.99 and comes with two bags. One contains the Skinny Tea, which claims to energise you, reduce hunger and increase fat burning. The other is the Colon Tea, which literally just makes you need to crap. A lot.

I had really high hopes. Well, if you spend the equivalent of a fortnight’s food shop on a few tea bags, you will want a decent product, right?

In all honesty, I enjoyed the Skinny Tea aspect of the detox. I loved the taste, but I love green tea anyway, so I was winning from the beginning. Although, I didn’t feel like suddenly running a marathon, nor I did see any fat burned. I still felt like I needed my usual pint of coffee in the mornings to get me going. So minimal effect really.

And then it was the Colon Tea. These teas, no matter what brand you buy, are essentially laxatives, and need to be drank before bed. The adverts say that they ‘cleanse’ your body, but it’s really more like some sort of lava that flush out of your system.  hated it. It tasted awful; hints of black liquorice and overtones of dishwater. Precisely eight hours after you drink it, you’ll need to be within about two meters of a toilet, which isn’t ideal if you have things to be doing the next morning.

It took me about three weeks of suffering with through this Teatox to realise that it was just another fad. There are countless manipulative (read: sponsored) Insta-famous girls brandishing their tea infusers on social media. Companies like this just exploit our insecurities, and want us all to spend £50 for a ‘quick-fix’. It really doesn’t work.

I gave up the Teatox, and although it was heart-wrenching to chuck it in the bin, I am actually so much happier. My sleeping pattern is back to normal, which is working wonders for my mood and focus in day to day life. Eating healthily and moving more is making some of those extra pounds shift a little bit.
But the best part? Being able to leave my house to get to university, or even go for a jog, without having to lock myself in the toilet.

Food For Thought, lifestyle, Mental Health

Six Ways To Tackle Stress In The Exam Period

By Lauren Chancellor

Lauren takes the pen to give us all a well-needed advice (or six) on how to deal with the turmoil that is exam stress.

Another term, another set of exams. Your assessment period is a time of stress and anxiety, something nearly every student dreads. With most of your free time spent cramming in extra revision and worrying about your end result, it can be as exhausting as it’s unpleasant.

Here are some simple tips to help you unwind and de-stress from the pressures of exams:

Positive vibes – Maintaining a positive outlook can stop you from losing your head whilst waiting for your results. Don’t waste your remaining days of freedom worrying, think positive thoughts and more important, spread positivity. Remember it is not just you going through the stress of exams, so being a Negative Nelly around other people is probably going to bring them down too.

Hard earned rest – For now, it’s time to say goodbye to the revision time table, the highlighters can go back in the draw and you can return your library books. Now it’s time to calm down and find your inner Zen. Take a nap, take two naps, wake up at midday instead of 9am – you do you.

Socialise – The chances are, you haven’t seen the social hours of daylight in long time. However, now your exams are over, and it’s time to venture into the real world, once again. Sharing downtime with your friends is a great way to relax after the exam period: watching movies, playing sports, going shopping etc.

Accept what’s done is done – When you leave that exam hall the power is out of your hands, and the sooner you accept that the better. What’s done is done, and what will be will be. Allowing yourself to fall into turmoil about what you could have done differently is pointless and can very quickly become exhausting. To avoid this, refrain from talking to people from your class about the exam and just focus on getting your results.

Have a back-up plan – on the off chance things really didn’t go to plan, having a plan of action is a great way to relieve anxiety and to help you continue moving forward with your studies. Make yourself familiar with re-sit dates and where you need to be.

Celebrate – whether it’s with your classmates, housemates or your family – you’ve worked hard over the past month and your hard work should be rewarded. Whether you go out for a celebratory meal or a few drinks in town, get out and let your hair down!

School and university is stressful for the most students, even those who don’t have exams. It’s important to remember that your body needs time to relax and rest. Be aware that your fellow peers may be feeling the pressures from their studies, and be mindful.

Guest Writers, lifestyle, Mental Health

“I Wished I Wasn’t Me” – overcoming self-doubt

Sometimes you have to be completely honest with yourself, and sometimes you learn something new. Helene moved to London and went on a journey of self exploration. Now she shares it with the Skint readers.
Text: Helene Fritz

Some days I wished I wasn’t me. I wished I was someone who wouldn’t worry so much about everything, or needed to overthink every little detail. It is exhausting. It takes a lot of energy to constantly worry. I have always been this way, though I just realised it more recently.

While it was so hard to acknowledge all my flaws, all the wrong turns I’ve taken, there is nothing I would take back. All these decisions I shouldn’t have made, the moments I should have behaved different, and all the little things I don’t like about myself, they all led me to the moment I could finally start to take my life in my own hands. There was a moment where I suddenly did not think “the world is cruel”, or “why is this happening to me” anymore.

At one point I realised I could do so much more than sit around and complain about everything. I realised I am not a victim of life. Though that is how I felt: Like a victim. When this thought is in your head for long enough, you start believing it. It is a long way from being led by life to leading your own life. There was a point I realised I am worth so much more than I thought. I used to think I deserve sadness. And that men deep inside didn’t want me, when they said they did. Or that I deserve people who didn’t really care about me. An endless disappointment. I thought I deserved all this. And I guess that was my mistake.

This past year was not always easy, but it was so eyeopening and I have learned and experienced more about myself than I ever did before.
It all started when I moved to London. I was beyond excited, for this new life, and even though I hoped for much, for the first time, I didn’t put myself under pressure. I tried to take things however they came, and I think this is what made it so easy for me in the beginning.
Whenever you expect, you put pressure on yourself as well as your surrounding. It lies within your emanation and the people you surround yourself with will feel it and act towards it. And I always expect things. From my self, from the people I around me, from life. I have this idea how things should work, and that is my mistake. In spite of my personal perception, this is not how life works. Whenever things don’t turn out the way I wanted it to, I get so disappointed and sad, and it is so hard to not let this disappointment out onto other people. I learned that the real key is to let things be. To accept everything the way it comes. Because life will come, no matter what. I just always thought the only right solution to respond to life is a negative one. A self-pitying, the “glass is half empty”-respond. I never learned that there was a another way to face the bad, (and also the good) things in life. To take the good with the bad.

Maybe this is faith, maybe it is confidence, maybe it is innate in some people, but for me it took a whole lot of time, disappointment, tears and work to finally get to the point, where I believed that I deserved a good life.

lifestyle

The best brownies in Cambridge

This might seem like a random one, but a lot of Skint’s following are based around Cambridgeshire and this week, on a trip home I discovered the best thing to ever grace my mouth. 

Bought from the Cafe Mobile Van on Cambridge’s market the gluten free brownies are so moist and delicate that not only one would do, (some are definitely coming back with me to Brighton). 

So if you’re in Cambridge and want to excite your taste buds visit the stall opposite the centre of tourism.

You can thank me later. 

Ethics, lifestyle, relationships, sexuality

Exploring your sexuality

Exploring your sexuality is such a normal part of life. Not everybody does it but there are so many people that do and it’s totally fine. I mean, how many girls that are heterosexual have had a sleepover with friends and has ended up kissing there best girlfriend? Probably thousands. It’s so normal and it’s not even weird to kiss your friends anymore, even for guys (which is fabulous). I’ve been around plenty of guys, plenty of times that, just for a laugh, give their mates a cheeky peck but, it can go so much further than that and it’s so okay.

At the end of the day sexuality can be so confusing and for some people knowing exactly what they are is important and their way of knowing is to experiment and honestly it’s so common and can be fun. I hate to think that anyone feels weird for fooling around with their best friend that one time, it’s a part of growing up for some and discovering who you are.

It’s a good thing to explore your sexuality, if you want to. Exploring and trying new things can ultimately lead you to being who you really are and even ending up not labeling yourself . No one has to have a label to their sexuality. When it comes to your sexuality, how you go about dealing with it, exploring it and what you label it as is totally your choice and it should be whatever makes you happiest. 

lifestyle

Social media and the allure of #ForeverYoung

Are we to blame the social media for the decline in coming of age for this generation of Britain’s adult?

The concept of teenagers, and that transcendent phase between child and adult, is now in its sixties. Never entirely defined, though these days it seem to stretch awkwardly far up in the ages. Spotting man 30+ on skateboard is no longer unusual, but merely a statement of the ever-lasting youth that we all want to be a part of. This generation is off the rails. It loves freedom, but hated the responsibilities that comes with it. These 30 year olds still live in their teenage daze. Who is to blame?

Artistic glorification

Social media has become a mass exposition for eternal youth. Both through Instagram trend, but also the deeper aspects. Platforms like Pinterest and Tumblr floods over with artistic glorifications of adolescents. Dazed published a piece titled “why are photographers so obsessed with youth”. This question strongly involves social media, as that is the main platform for which photography as an art form is exposed.

Insta-queens

The Instagram queens are barely 18, and yet they are some of the most influential sources these days. With hordes of fans girls like Gigi Hadid and Kendal Jenner leaves marks, not only in the fashion industry, but re-new the way this generation reflects upon themselves.  This constant exposure of youth and the most glamorous sides of adolescence have, understandably, a certain allure and makes the concept of suite-wearing, tax-paying adultery seem pretty dull.

A city thing? 

You can argue that this issue is just a “city thing” and that the Peter Pans roaming the city simply long for eternal youth and by that evolves their entire purpose around prolonging their adolescence. Yet you can no longer argue against the fact that this generation has reached about a third into their average life expectancy, and still they are caught up in the “teenage daze”. The impact is heavier than just the aesthetic though.

No babies 

The Economist published “The End Of the Baby Boom?” this year, suggesting that the generation of adults to come, is not yet ready to take on the adult responsibility leading to a massive decline in births in the UK. This was the first birth rate drop since 2001 and the biggest since the 1970s. Now you cannot sensibly argue that this is because people rather hashtag than make babies. But, it is some underlying factors about how youth and declining responsibilities is a new pop-cultural phenomenon and that this is boosted by the vast amount of platforms you can expose yourself on these days.

The consequences

We are undoubtedly surrounded by the consequences that follows a generation denying its ability to grow up. Not only can we now spot men and women being carried out of clubs, flashing their sins to the oblivious world, but my mum, 47, has more followers on Instagram than I have.
In more serious matters there are now 3, 3 millions 20 to 34-year-olds still living with their parents and horrifyingly high suicide rate amongst young men, this is more than just a vivid joke. It is not a call against social media, but awareness is needed in order to pop the many bubbles of ‘social media glorifications’ and the effects they have.