Rest, recovery and reaching out for help
I made it.
Yes, she survived and is still in one piece…just about.
Ok yes teeechnically I haven’t graduated yet… but you get the idea.
Despite very much thinking that I wasn’t going to (especially as I began to crack during my last week of exams) I have finished my degree. After 3 and a half lecture-less months of solid essay writing and revision, it is over. I can’t quite put into words the feeling.
I won’t lie to you; the pressure of final year is certainly hefty. Particularly for a self-confessed perfectionist like myself who, be-it hoovering or writing university assignments, never seems satisfied unless I have put my all into whatever it is I am doing. I think the first thing I felt upon walking out of my last exam was relief. Relief that I had made it (albeit with very little sanity left) and that the repetitive routine which seems to have dictated my life for months on end of getting up, working late into the evening, going to sleep (for the few hours my insomnia would grant me) only for it all to be repeated again the very next day, had finally ended. Relief that subsequently saw me curled up in bed with a cup of herbal tea at about 11pm that night in true grandma fashion; relief also for my poor mother. In fact, along with my dad who has been undergoing cancer treatment over the last couple of years, between the two of us I think we may have knocked off a good few years off her life through the sheer stress and worry we seemed to have inadvertently subjected her to. But then again, as my friend rightly pointed out, perhaps really what we were doing was saving her from the perils of old age… But I digress.
No, I must admit that upon returning from my year abroad; a year that saw me gallivanting the globe and was quite possibly one of the best of my life; the last few years at Warwick have been hard. I absolutely love Warwick and my degree, and in fact, I couldn’t possibly have imagined myself doing anything different or anywhere else for that matter. However, the truth is that I couldn’t have done it without the brilliant support network I’ve had. I’ve said it once but can’t help saying it again; being part of two relatively small departments is something unique. During my time here as part of the School of Modern Languages and Cultures, I have really felt like part of a family and never a number. Whether it is popping in to the SMLC secretaries’ office for a bit of a chinwag or a moan, offloading my worries to my god-send of a personal tutor over a herbal tea, or my fortnightly check-ins with my nurse at the University Health Centre, during a time which has seen my mental health deteriorate and reach an all-time low, the support I’ve received here has been invaluable. And that’s without even mentioning the gems that are my friends here.
Gosh, I seem to be getting all sentimental all of a sudden.
In fact with everything finished, not only does it feel that my body has finally given into every ache, pain and virus it has been ferociously fending off for so long, but has also found itself confronting a wealth of somewhat contradictory feelings of confusion, happiness and exhaustion which accompany the rarity of no longer having a purpose or carefully construed list of tasks to complete each day. No longer faced with the monotonous routine of getting up each day to the prospect of another day glued to my desk, it’s rather strange having nothing to do. In fact, I really don’t know what to do with myself.
They say (who, I don’t know, but my mother included) that when you eventually stop, it can prove a dangerous time. Especially for those who, like me, feel that their bodies have somehow been programmed into an automated state of survival mode in order to get through this term’s tribulations.
However, back home and after a whole day slouched in front of the television (during which I managed to get through the entire season of in almost one sitting) unable to keep still anymore in true Claudia style, I have since managed to keep myself busy enough brunching, lunching…
…fundraising for my trip to South Africa this summer (it’s still not too late to give me a hand via my Just Giving page here)…
…and generally catching up with the social life I seemed to have abandoned over the last few months.
What’s more, as I make my final trip up to Warwick next week before graduation, with the likes of grad ball, training for Warwick in Africa, open days, and of course –dare I say— results, as someone who struggles with that much needed and eagerly awaited concept of having nothing to do, I feel there will be plenty to do.
Therefore, to all of you out there, whether you are still powering your way through revision, or have finished, and like me are feeling somewhat physically and emotionally drained, remember to be kind to yourself. Sometimes we can be our own worst enemy and subject ourselves to an unhealthy and unrealistic amount of pressure. As someone who is very much guilty of this and who narrowly didn’t make it to her last exam due to pushing herself too much for too long and consequently making herself very ill, remember to listen and respect your body. And more importantly, if you are struggling, don’t be afraid to ask for help. You will be amazed to discover how many people are often going through exactly the same or something very similar to you. Beit in the form of friends, family, or Warwick’s extensive Wellbeing Support Services, the support is out there- you just have to reach out for it.
Finally the only thing left to say is to remember that all you can do is your best; we are only human after all.