Reflections on my third year
Trigger warning: Mental health. I talk about anxiety (panic attacks) eating disorders (compulsive exercise). I do not go into a lot of detail but if you are affected by these issues, please do not read this post or potentially seek help.
It is a couple of hours after completing my third-year exams. Looking back at my year, I am surprised that I got through my third year at all!
I started off my third year on the wrong footing. I was super stressed and burned out after my Undergraduate Research Summer Scheme project. Then two days later, I started my degree. I wanted to take it easy for the first couple of weeks. Focus on self-care and sleep. However, this was not possible because I was on the exec for two societies. One week into term and I found myself working part-time, volunteering, studying, applying for grad schemes and made new friends. Needless to say, I had A LOT on!
All of this was to the detriment of my mental health. During my first term, I was having panic attacks every day. I would be walking home, reflecting on my day and PANIC. I would be in a lecture trying to pay attention and out of the blue, PANIC. That was not a fun time at all! Additionally, I was unable to focus on my eating disorder recovery. I spiraled completely out of control. My issues around compulsive exercising got so bad that I was spraining my ankles every other week. However, I still continued exercising for three months after, which resulted in muscle inflammation. This caused me so much pain. In the first month, I was struggling to get out of bed in the mornings because my body was lethargic and unwell. I was skipping lectures left to right and center.
Then came exam season, which was torture. I was already falling behind during the year. However, I was expected to catch up and complete my dissertation. Again, self-care fell to the side, and I pushed my body, a bit more than I should have done. For ages, I was able to run on adrenaline and caffeine, but the day before my last exam, my body crashed. I had been suffering from a chest infection for six weeks before this, and my body tried its best to cope. However, it had come to the point where all that could help was rest and looking after my health.
However, I got through it all and I am proud of myself.
Do I regret it? No. Not completely. I enjoyed my degree. However, if I could go back, I would definitely have prioritized my mental health above university work, working and volunteering.