Hello, my name is Hadil and I am a 20-year-old placement student studying at Brunel University. In my 20-year life, I have been through so many ups and downs and times where my mental health got tested.
Millions of students suffer from mental health, but I want to be one of a few to share my story. The one thing I can say is that somehow, I got through it in the end. I want to share my journey with all of you and hope that you can find some strength just like I did.
Where it all began
On a normal school day during my GCSE years, I was sitting on my couch with my family and suddenly, I had a sudden shortness of breath. I instantly panicked and thought to myself what is happening to me. I ran outside to try and catch my breath, but it only got worse. I ran to my sister who called my dad and took me to the hospital. After 5 hours the doctor saw me and said you are fine. I argued with all the energy I had left and said no I am dying! He explained that I am displaying signs of anxiety and should see a Psychologist. I went home that day struggling to accept that I am not dying however little did I realise this day marked the first day of a rough and strenuous journey.
I consider myself an academically successful student and always revised and organised myself before an exam. One day I woke up on an exam day and felt my stomach tighten, acid in my throat, and my body tense. Myself having emetophobia I instantly panicked, cried, screamed, and shouted, ‘I am not sitting my exam’. I honestly felt as if I was coming down with something. My family forced me to school and after floods of tears, I completed my exam and guess what I was fine in the end. I sat in the corner of the classroom crying nonstop watching everyone walk out of that exam smiling and thinking to myself why my body is doing this to me now!
A-Levels Results Day
Imagine not being able to sleep, eat, or stay calm the day before results day. I feel like everyone can relate, you know you are going to pass however you still panic because your brain has full-on control over you, and it sucks! I received my results and guess what I got into Brunel! See all that panicking for nothing and that is my life every single day. I come home excited but scared to tell my parents that I got into uni. Do not get me wrong there happy their daughter is going into higher education; it is the bit about me staying in university accommodation full of boys and freedom that does not sit well with them. Me being the stubborn girl I am, I ended up moving into accommodation……I ran away from home and my anxiety went through the roof!
The first year is the toughest year of my life, I moved into Brunel accommodation without family approval and it hurt. The first thought was how can I do this, I cannot live without my family, I have never been without my family, what if I need them and they are not nearby. As I was walking into campus with my suitcase, I saw students with their parents hugging them goodbye, wishing I could have this opportunity. I woke up at 3 am with panic attacks, nausea and instantly I packed my bags and ran home. My family were proud that I made a good decision by coming home, but I felt weak, I felt like my anxiety has so much control over me and I can never be happy or independent like other people. After a week I pulled myself together forced myself to eat after days of not consuming food. I felt so happy once my appetite came back my anxiety and depression slowly faded. I made so many friends and even got into a relationship, but the important thing was I stayed stronger than my anxiety which explains why I was so happy.
Towards the end of the first year, I had a rocky time I ended the relationship and my anxiety came back. I was not eating as I weighed 35 kg and was 5ft 7. I was constantly crying, with no appetite, no energy, and a mind of negative thoughts. I also had an exam that same week and have not even revised, I would try to go to the library, but it will only end in a cycle of tears. But through the tears I forced myself and told myself I was better than any anxiety, I practiced deep breathing, mediation, and positive self -talk every morning and every night. I told myself I am not giving up regardless of what is stopping me. On the day of my exam, my anxiety returned I threw up, I cried, I did not eat, and had no energy, but I still got through it. What I realised is that my motivation was that the people who I lost wanted me to fail so why to give them that opportunity. Through all the hardships I had at Brunel I can say I been through the worst so what else can go wrong?
By the title, you can see I am much better, after getting the help I needed. I moved out of accommodation and ended that painful chapter but also realised that I am stronger than I was before. I moved into second-year accommodation and gave myself a second chance to meet friends, socialise, go out and be a student again like everyone else. Let me not forget to mention my Arab parents accepted my life and even helped me move into university, how happier can I be! I can say I made the most amazing friends who I travelled the summer with and who optimised my mental health. I took the step this year to try new things such as join the netball team and committee. This tested my anxiety and encouraged me to get out of my comfort zone. When I first came into university, I thought to myself I would never make friends here but now I cannot see my life without my friends.
To say I became the strong and independent girl that I am today on my own would be a lie. When I first went into the student centre admitting I needed help for my anxiety I was embarrassed as I thought I was the only one with mental health issues, but actually, there are so many students with the same issue but you just don’t see it. However, now when I look back it was the best decision I made as I received counselling and Brunel offered me someone who can listen to my problems and accept my tears and advise me on steps forward, such as mediation, an anxiety diary, and motivational speeches.
Looking back at my journey the girl I was in A-Levels was not the same girl who is writing her story today. I have grown so much into an independent resilient and strong healthy girl, something I did not think was possible. It was the hardships that I went through that made me brave but it's Brunel that made me who I am. To the person reading this now, please do not give up, it is the down days and hardships that will build you into who you are destined to be. What you are going through now is only preparing you for who you are going to become. From one human to another do not give up!