#TalkingHelps at university
For Michaela, it was vital that someone at university reached out and asked her if she was okay. Here, she shares her story and explains why #TalkingHelps.
Sometimes all it takes is for one person to ask if you are okay.
This was my experience. I was at university dealing with bad anxiety. I had recently started cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for it, but this was cut short because I had left London for my studies.
Before I knew it I found myself in a new town, away from home and isolated. My therapist would still call me but that stopped after a while. I was overwhelmed and struggling.
Mental health isn't like anything else in healthcare. Believe me I know. When you’re in physical pain, it’s identifiable, it can be located to a specific area and dealt with accordingly (within reason). However, unfortunately issues with mental health aren't always the same. You know something is wrong but you may not know how to communicate it effectively. You don’t want to be judged, and you need help but you may not know what that looks like.
Most of the time, with physical illness you can ask for a bandage or paracetamol to help the pain. But when I had anxiety, it was at such a high level that I didn’t know whether I was happy, sad, hungry or tired. I felt helpless. My only feeling was feeling anxious. I didn't realise how much I was dealing with emotionally, mentally and physically. My mind was like a tightly-sealed vault and I was trying my best to get on with things.
It wasn't until I was at university that a lovely sweet girl approached me and simply asked me:
"Are you okay?"
It was in that moment that I broke down and cried like never before. Those tears were like a release of all the stress and pressure of 'being normal and carrying on'.
Following that, I spoke to my therapist, my university and my loved ones and began receiving support. Although things didn't get better immediately, they started moving. It was progress. Hope.
I'm happy to say that I'm a lot better now but somebody else reaching out was the first step. As humans, no one is perfect. We walk on a tightrope and anxiety or any type of mental health issue doesn't make life easier. Life isn't easy, but there are people to help.
Reaching out can be as easy as sending a text message saying 'hey'. Don't be fooled by a calm exterior. Reach out to people and be that person.
If you need someone to talk to, visit our need to talk guide, with websites and helplines where you can find a listening ear.