14 th, August 2018 at 5 AM there were butterflies in my stomach. Everything was set yet the feeling I was really going to leave my home, my friends, my family and the most important of all, the food had not sunk in. With friends demanding I shed a tear or two in the airport, with parents being proud of that very moment. I began a journey. Fast forward, 8 months I am almost done with a year of Master’s in Food Innovation and Management. I am here to talk about how important maintaining a good mental health can do wonders. If you are anywhere close to how I react to things or people, then you would know that anxiety is no joke. Panic attacks become your best friend. Mood swings want to be in a relationship with you. It was my first time away from home in 23 years, I believed I was a strong independent women who can handle everything only to realize if I have enough number of familiar faces around me.
Moving into a new country.Creating a living. An identity.Running a household.Studying. Maintaining all the important relationships. Trying to stay fit. And more importantly the ability to be there for someone else be it friends or family inspite of all this has been quite something. I have constantly had mental breakdowns, lost all my motivation to do anything,
This looks like a really dark and painful story, but what I am about to tell you after this may give you some hope. I was blessed enough to find a brilliant support system in Wageningen who have and are helping me tackle bad days and celebrate good days together. Being a Master student in an environment like WUR only means you have to compete with the brightest minds of the world to keep up. Studying has always been my favorite thing to do. Unlike most students, I love writing exams! I enjoy studying and learning and creating things.
So, that was really no problem at all in keeping up until I failed an exam for the first time in my life.( Mic drop)
Failure of any form is a huge set back.
I beat myself up for being incompetent, for being a failure and that there was nothing ever left for me to do other than quit. Going back to the support system, when you have really good housemates. A kind and understanding Study Adviser who first calms you down with a cup of coffee (Coffee is really a hug in a mug)
Friends who won’t stop talking to you because you failed one exam. You will find hope and light at the end of the tunnel. I found out that doing a re-sit exam is not shameful. In fact, I was able to study harder, and understand and write the exam with much more confidence and pass it!
Exaggeration is my middle name
The thing about mental health and depression is, when you have it, it exaggerates the bad in greater magnitude than the good. It is also important to acknowledge the good things that happened to you. Often when fear takes over, fear of failure, fear of losing or just plain fear of your worst nightmare, it breeds. It feels like the world is closing it is doors and everything is over.
Light at the end of the Tunnel
The great thing about a University like WUR is the support. They offer help to students not just academically. WUR wants it’s students to also have a good mental health which is a boon.
The 1.00PM-2.OOPM immediate Walk-in hours with the student psychologist proves to be helpful when you need some help urgently to cope with whatever you are going through. You can also make an appointment with a GP.
Love thy self like thy neighbours
The constant need to create a good support system who will not judge you for the hundred calls you make to them or feel pity when you break down in the middle of the day instead will be there to listen and just listen to you. It is important to be vulnerable and maybe it is still a choice but one worth making to make progress.
Talk to friends,family that make you feel better. Drink a cup of your favorite drink. Take walks and soak yourself in nature and on most days when you feel like giving up. Think about how you actually have made progress to come this far, it will give you the strength you need to find hope.
I can preach! 😛
Finding hope and staying positive is not at all easy.It is probably really hard. In a beautiful campus like WUR, anything is possible. Like playing a sport, drinking a cup of coffee with a friend or even finding a good spot to read a good book is easily possible. These things help one channelize all the anxiety into something productive. Next time you feel anxious, don’t hesitate to do things that will make you feel good and don’t be ashamed to ask for help.
Through a series of blogs I will further talk about hope, coping mechanisms to create more awareness about mental health.
Until next time,