Finishing University

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Again I must apologise for leaving such a long gap between updates. The past month or so has been one of the busiest of my academic life. I’ve had a robotics project to develop and demonstrate, software engineering assignment and my final project/dissertation to complete. I haven’t managed my time perfectly, but it has been a vast improvement on last year when I only managed to get one assignment done (and had to ask for an extension for it) before messing up completely which resulted in me having to repeat the year. I’ve managed to get everything in on time this year without any extensions, so that’s something to be pleased about.

My dissertation ended up being around 17,000 words, which isn’t as much as a lot of students but I had to develop and document a piece of software too which involves a lot of technical diagrams and I spent many hours each day over the past few weeks to make sure I got everything done. It wasn’t perfect and there was a lot more I would like to have added but I think it’s fairly good. My tentative goal is to get a 2:1 (the second highest grade) for my degree overall, although I wouldn’t be devastated if I didn’t get that. To be completely honest, it’s been other factors like my mental health and personal problems that have hampered my progress more than anything but I’ve tried really hard to stay on track this year. I’m sure those of you reading this who went to college/university know what a massive undertaking it is and I was completely mentally drained by the time I had to hand it in and demonstrate my software last week. One of my classmates actually got RSI while writing his, so maybe I got off lightly.

It seems very strange to be coming to the end of my university life. I just checked back on the post I wrote when I first started here and I can’t believe how quickly that time has gone. Despite the massive problems I’ve had, especially the obvious one, I’ve enjoyed being here and it’s been a great experience. I’ll be proud of myself for the first time in a long, long time if I manage to pass and get my degree (which, barring any catastrophes, I should do). It’s a weird time and I’m not sure how I feel about it but for once I’m not depressed or anxious about the near future.

The second part of this post is to thank everyone who voted for me in the About.com poll. I didn’t stand much of a chance against the excellent Social Anxiety UK site, which I used many times myself but I did get a Reader’s Choice finalist award, so thank you all for that. You can see the other winners here.

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Leaving Home Part 2

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Well I’m sorry it has taken so long to get around to writing this up, as you can imagine I have been extremely busy for the past week and I’m quite drained, both physically and especially mentally. First of all there was the extremely difficult process of moving all my stuff out and the anticipation of what my new home and room mates would be like. Will they like me? What if they make fun of me? Will I be able to manage without my mum?

Saying goodbye was very hard, my mum ended up crying like I expected. I didn’t want her to hang around too long because I know she was going to be upset. Some people’s parents seemed to stay for almost the entire day. After I’d unpacked my stuff, I decided to venture out into the kitchen/common area to meet my other room mates (I’d said hello to a couple of them while unloading the car). It took me a while to psych myself up enough to go in there but I made it. There were loads of people in there, more than the amount who would be in our apartment so I was a bit confused at first since I wasn’t sure who was staying and who wasn’t. I managed to introduce myself and talk a little bit to some of them. I later found out that most people already had friends here, that they had either worked with, known from college or were already friends with. This made me feel a bit sad because I had tried to console myself with the fact that we’d all be in the same boat, i.e. everyone would be on their own and not already have a social group, but this wasn’t the case. Already I was a loner and everyone had got a group of friends.

We all went out together on the first night. It was the first time I’d ever done anything like this, we went to a couple of pubs first which I didn’t mind too much and I managed to chat to them for a little while. Later on when we went to the club though, I just couldn’t stand it. There were too many drunk people and it was so packed, I felt trapped. I stayed for about an hour but when they all went to dance, I couldn’t handle it any more and I had to leave early. I felt so bad for running out on them like that but there was no way I could handle it any more and I didn’t fancy standing about on my own at the side all night long. I ended up leaving them a note explaining that I get panicked in situations like that and why I can’t drink etc. Maybe it was a bad idea, but I didn’t know what else to do.

The next day, no-one was mean to me about it so I guess they understood or at least didn’t hold it against me. They asked me to come to dinner with them which I did and had a good time, felt much better after that. I didn’t go to town with them afterwards though, I think they realise that I am not into clubs and stuff now.

All in all, I think I have been very lucky to be put with this group, they all seem to be nice and even though they are all very confident and outgoing, I have managed to talk to them a little bit and I think we get on alright. I find it much easier to speak to people individually rather than in a group, it’s so intimidating being with a bunch of such loud people.

I think that overall I am coping ok so far. The course starts properly on Monday which I’m looking forward too, the introductory lectures I’ve had so far have been interesting and the course sounds really good. The lecturers are very enthusiastic and involved which is a refreshing change from college where they didn’t bother to turn up a lot of the time.

I wanted to let people know how I’m getting on so far. I’m actually at home for the weekend at the moment so I am a bit more relaxed and should hopefully be able to write a bit more later on. Thanks everyone for all the encouragement and support 🙂

Changes

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I have a very vivid memory about a lot of aspects of my life, maybe because I have so few life experiences. When I think back, every major change has led to me becoming more unhappy and some other emotion I can’t quite describe. A lot of people hate school or their job but most seem to settle into it; I never have and I always feel an intense desire to be away from those kind of situations. I don’t know if it’s a fear of being trapped or something…

From the first time I went to preschool, when I started school and high school and finally university (the first time I tried..) and work I have always feared the change and always had those fears become “justified”. I can’t help but feel the same thing will happen to me again when I go to uni tomorrow. Reading comments between 2 of my future flatmates has already made me feel uneasy since they seem so alike and I can tell they will more than likely get on well. They are exactly as I had pictured everyone that I will meet at university, there is no way they will like me or want anything to do with me. I think I can handle that but if they dislike me so much that they start to make horrible comments and jokes about me then I don’t thank I will be able to cope.

My mum wanted to spend the evening with me today (she usually goes to her boyfriends house on Saturday nights) I don’t know whether it was wholly to spend some time with me before I go or whether a part of her wanted to check up on me and make sure I didn’t do anything “stupid”. Those fears will not have been unfounded though, I have thoughts of running out and jumping off that bridge going around my head. I’ve managed to get myself into an impossible situation; if I tell anyone, then I won’t be able to go to university and they’ll keep me here. I can’t live with that either so it leaves me with 2 choices: try to bury the fears and suicidal ideas and go to uni pretending everything is fine or sneak out and do it without telling anyone.  If I can’t sleep tonight, I hope for my family’s sake that I can keep these urges under control.

The Night Before

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Tonight is the last night that I will sleep in my bed, in this house where I have been since 1991. I have no idea how long I’ll last at university, maybe only a matter of days, but tomorrow I will be there. Obviously I am nervous, most people in this situation would be, let alone those with anxiety but I’m not in full on panic mode. Hopefully this will last long enough for me to get some sleep, though I’m not counting on it.

My first anxious thought about things is to do with the amount of stuff I’m taking. It seems like I have an awful lot of boxes and bags, although I have only got the essential stuff (we need to take all of our own kitchen stuff like pots, pans, plates, cutlery etc) and clothes, a few books and my laptop. I don’t want people to laugh at me for bringing huge amounts or to make fun of the stuff I have 😦 

I have more to write but I can’t concentrate very well at the moment. I may write more later on.

Leaving Home Part 1

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It’s less than 2 days until I go now and I just spent the evening with my dad so he could say goodbye. It was a very strange experience, he was very helpful and encouraging in his own way, it reminded me of when I was younger and he used to console me about the bullying at school even though I never really explained what was going on. I complain about him a lot but he truly does care and want the best for me. It was so sad to say goodbye, even though I’ll only be about 50 miles away 😦 I’ll miss seeing him often, he’s always at his girlfriends house on weekends so it’ll probably be Christmas before I get to see him again. Even he seemed tearful as he left the house, I’m dreading what my mum is going to be like 😦

Something that bothers me more than how much I’ll miss my family is how much they must be expecting of me now. It seems like the time has finally come when I’ll be out from under their feet. They never make me feel like a burden, but I do it to myself. I just imagine I must be a disappointment; still at home after all these years, especially when my mum’s boyfriend has 3 daughters who are the same age or younger than me and have all moved out on their own. I am already 5 years behind where everyone else is and I simply won’t be able to live with myself if I mess things up again. There will be no going back, I can’t face the disappointment and empty life ahead if I cannot cope with university and get a degree. There’s no place for a 23 year old loser who has dropped out twice and has no hope of a job. That will be it.

New Meds

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Went to the GP to get my new meds, venlafaxine (generic Effexor) yesterday. I have to start taking them tonight, not sure what to expect but I’m hoping there aren’t too many side effects. I wasn’t too bad when I first started citalopram so hopefully I’ll be ok this time too.

I had my last appointment with my MHP this morning as well which was sad because I had come to trust her more than I first expected and she seemed to understand me quite well. Apparently I seemed more “animated” and made more eye contact than usual and she seemed to think I looked a lot better than last time we saw each other. I spoke to her about possibly having meds for my anxiety and told her about how the psychiatrist I saw at A&E said I would benefit from having some diazepam for when I go to uni and she agreed that it would be good. She said I should definitely talk to the psychiatrist about it. They phoned this morning and asked me to come in Friday so I should have a chance to ask them before I go, I don’t know how receptive they will be to it though.

Apologies for the boring post but I don’t have much to write about at the moment. I’m trying to keep myself occupied until this Sunday when I move out :-O

Feeling Inferior

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I recently found out what apartment I’ll be staying in at university and through facebook, one of the people I’ll be sharing a kitchen with. Already I have started feeling hugely inferior and worthless. Just a quick glance at her page, full of pictures of her with friends on nights out, was enough to start me off feeling worthless. I can’t help but think what a huge let down it must be to discover that I am your new room mate. Even on my profile page I sound tremendously boring, I only have one photo of myself with another person. My interests are dull, I only have pity friends. It’s strange, the thing that makes me feel worst of all is how disappointing I will be to the other people I live with. I feel sorry for them for getting stuck with the freakish looking loner.

It’s only 2 weeks now until I move in there, I don’t know if I can do it. I tried to make myself forget about the bad things, but I just can’t put out of my mind how much of a huge step this is going to be. I haven’t even put much thought into how hard the work itself is going to be. I’ll have some time in the house on my own over the next couple of weeks since my mum will be back at work; I don’t know whether there will be anything to stop me this time if I decide to take the other way out.