My first six weeks

Here’s another competition entry from an ALS student

My first year of University so far has been much more comfortable than it would have been without support. I started university at Cardiff in 2012 completely unaware of my mental health condition and learning difficulties. I started university, the first time round not knowing why I was struggling and left because of it.

 Having worked through my difficulties I was able to gain the help I needed from the university to flourish. All that work, to gain proper funding through the DSA scheme and through Student Finance England has meant that I can enjoy life within the limitations of my disabilities.

 University life, so far, has been remarkably fulfilling. It has been challenging but not overwhelming. As a student with both social-developmental, mood and learning difficulties, I struggle with every element of student life from keeping a routine, maintaining motivation to study and to socialise. I wouldn’t be where I am now if I didn’t have the support of student services and from my family. By having a range of support means that I don’t have to deal with depression, stress or confusion on my own. Mentor support allows me to discuss any problems that arise and keep my study life efficient and effective. Having family around me means that I don’t have to be lonely or homesick when trying to make friends at University.

 I can’t shy away from the fact that things haven’t been perfect. I’ve found group work and society socials extremely challenging and tiring. Motivating myself to study or socialise hasn’t been easy when just getting out of bed is hard when I have a very low mood. Because of the support I have, from a digital voice recorder to a laptop means that I can work from home if I struggle to get out of my flat. Low moods can come at any time so it’s important that I had this support from the very start. I have routine counselling every two weeks so that I can keep on top of my problems. I wouldn’t have been able to if I didn’t have the funding in place to allow me to access expensive intense support.

 On the whole, by having the right kind of support means that the transition into a challenging new environment has been easier than it would have been without all those support structures in place. I learnt the hard way what no support at university can do to someone with Bipolar, Dyslexia and Aspergers. I was overwhelmed and dropped out. Even after 6 weeks, I know that if I can cope now, I can excel later on. Despite the daily struggles I have, I know I can continue to enjoy my time at university with the support I now have.



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