Rachel shares her experience of how even through tough times, mental health difficulties do not have to limit your success.
I was eleven when my Granddad passed away.
One conversation with him in those last few months stuck with me.
At eleven, I had already decided I wanted to be a writer, and when Granddad told me he wanted me to go to Oxford to study English, I informed him that was already a part of My Life Plan.
(I was a cocky, annoying eleven-year-old.)
I never expected to spend time bouncing in and out of doctor’s offices, hospitals, and psychiatric wards, but I did. My focus, grades, and attendance all dropped.
My Life Plan inevitably collapsed.
I would later be diagnosed with anxiety, depression and ADHD, which would also add to the development of Emotionally Unstable (or Borderline) Personality Disorder. While I won't go into the details of these disorders, they had a massive effect on my life, particularly in my first year of University. I barely attended anything in my first term and resigned myself to failure. I didn't submit assignments or make many friends, and mostly just drank alone. I wasn't in Oxford. I didn't have three A-Levels. I didn't have a good relationship with practically anyone. I eventually dropped out of first year entirely.
I was living the opposite to My Life Plan.
I convinced myself that I was a failure, and that I had no value to anyone. I no longer even thought of the future, as if it wasn't going to be perfect, I believed I wouldn't have one at all. But there isn't a time limit on success. I thought that I had to have everything together by the time I was twenty-five, otherwise I'd failed. I was so full of guilt, I was ready to throw away my whole life. But along with psychiatric help and medication, I slowly began to understand my mental state, and get myself out of it.
A symptom of EU/BPD is 'black and white thinking', AKA seeing a situation as entirely good or entirely bad. While this can be a symptom of EU/BPD, I believe it's something many people can relate to.
'If I can't be the best at something, why do it at all?'
'If I don't succeed, then I have failed.'
I saw myself as only a failure over that first year after dropping out of university. Ultimately, I learned that even at your absolute worst, you're still capable of good. I forced myself to accept the fact that I had done bad things, but I was still capable of change. My future didn't have to be empty.
The world isn't goodies vs baddies. You aren't successful or unsuccessful.
I'm now back in University, breaking for summer after first year. No, I may not be in Oxford. I didn't get all of my A Levels. It's likely that I'll continue to deal with mental health symptoms for a while yet. I've had to defer some of my assignments due to my health this year.
I'm sure my Granddad would have loved it if I did achieve My Life Plan by twenty-five.
But I bet he wanted me to be kind, hardworking and happy even more.
Hello! I’m Rachel, a 19 year old Creative Writing student originally from Wales, currently studying at DeMontfort in Leicester. I am diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, ADHD, anxiety and depression.