top of page

i hate calling it 'my' depression, like it's something i collected, bought, something i'm keeping around because, oh, it just brightens my life every day. but yeah i do possess it, i live in it, the dark cloud over my head that drizzles incessantly on my human experience. sometimes it pisses it down, other days it just spits, gently, and sometimes, albeit rarely, i catch it casting a bit of a rainbow. as an illness, there's no framework depression follows, no checklist of symptoms you can tick off and bam, there's your diagnosis, there's a packet of pills, here's the cure. i wish it was that simple. no instead, suffering from depression means learning what your own symptoms are, paying attention to what triggers them, and working out how to manage them. it's the process of creating, rather than following, the treatment plan. with an illness like depression, you will never be sat down and told how to get better. you won't find it online, in a book, or even in the office of the third psychiatrist you've seen this week. it is an illness that, unfortunately, looks different on everyone, and that's why this one, the one that hangs out over my head and in my heart, i call mine.

i do understand why sadness and depression can get so conflated, but as a Depressed Person i find that they are very separate things. i almost never feel sad when i am depressed. empty, yes. lonely? yes too. angry, sick, bored, lost, and numb are all feelings my depressed self is far too familiar with. but funnily enough, not really sadness. so if depression isn't always this sadness it's been romanticized to seem, then what does it actually look like?

the white noise in my brain gets really loud. unbearably-to study is to stare at a computer screen and read the same 3 words repeatedly for 3 hours, all ability to be productive is lost. mirroring. sometimes the only way for me to keep myself functioning when I'm depressed is to mirror someone else. their behaviour their eating and sleep patterns. their working hours. the less decisions for my brain to make, however small and inconsequential, the better.

spiralling. i get scared of never getting better (ok, likely), and living my entire life in this state (possible). more irrational fears too. that a tumour is pressing on my brain and causing dark thoughts. that my lack of productivity will result in brain activity diminishing and that i will

forget how to do simple tasks like reading and writing. that everyone i love will simultaneously be hit by a car on their way home today. etc.

Aoife Murphy - Fourth Year - International Relations

30 views0 comments

Social anxiety is like having a nasty parrot on your shoulder. He's always clinging there, squawking about how everyone perceives you. For me, "You look terrible today," is a common line. "You don't fit in here," is another one.

When I was younger, I couldn't speak to anyone outside of my friend circle without feeling tears glittering in my eyes, or without my face blushing like I'd just ran a mile. I was, naturally, a shy kid, and enjoyed spending time by myself. The thought of talking to a random person - even a cashier, or a waiter - made me feel nauseous, and I wouldn't be able to make a phone call without an hour's worth of preparation.

I never anticipated my first year of university to go as it did, nor did I expect my anxiety to follow me to Edinburgh. I expected my life at university to be a smooth ride like a stereotypical American college movie. Everyone goes to parties, has a cheeky romance, and lives a lovely life. While I'm sure some people in my year did get this experience, I, for one, did not.

My social anxiety decided to burrow its claws into my heart. I didn't like to party because I was self-conscious of my body, and I wasn't good at making friends. I didn't get on with anyone in my courses, and everyone seemed so much more knowledgeable about Kant and Marx than I was. As far as I was concerned, I was the problem. I didn't act like the rest of them, so I was the alien. I believed I was unintelligent; that I didn't belong at this university, that it was some sort of mistake. I wasn't worth even speaking to.

To make matters worse, I was also involved in quite a toxic relationship. I was with someone who did not care about me, yet I relied upon them for my own self-esteem. Being in a relationship, for me, was a marker of worth. Losing them meant losing validation.

My second semester was the darkest time that I can recall within my whole time at university. I buried myself into my bed covers and consumed nothing but cheese (I'm not afraid to admit it), and only left my flat for one hour each day to attend a lecture. I'd wake up at 1pm and, because the sun would set at 3pm in winter, my life was almost perpetually cloaked in darkness. My grades were on the edge of being so low that they might've crashed down into the mantle of the Earth. I felt utterly worthless. I felt lonely, as if I deserved to be like this, as if everyone else was built right and I was wrong. Why couldn't I have been extroverted and confident? Why was no one else feeling the way I did?

I was determined to make a change. Enough was enough. I was going to shake this anxiety off my shoulders.

Summer was a fresh start. I broke things off with my partner, learned some new skills, and worked on myself. I was determined to make a difference in my second year. I started to look after myself physically, which meant going for more walks and eating healthier things other than just cheese. I put more effort into my studies and committed to the secondary reading. I wasn't afraid to ask questions or for advice. Even better, I joined a society that resonated with my own hobbies. I've met close friends that I naturally vibe with; individuals that I know I wouldn't have found on my course. I've developed more as a person and can speak to utter strangers on the street without a single care of how they may perceive me (why should I? They're never going to see me again). Even more astonishingly, I have a part-time retail job that involves speaking to many people. It's ironic, right?

Now that I am approaching the end of my degree, I'm enjoying reflecting on my journey with social anxiety. I've had some ups and downs, but that's how life is. One piece of advice that my dad always gives me is, "Don't bully yourself. Leave that to the real bullies." What's the point in pulling yourself down? If there's no one around to nurture you, be the one to nurture yourself. Love yourself.

Even now, the parrot isn't entirely gone. Sometimes, he flutters down onto my shoulder and tells me what I'm doing wrong, or what could go wrong, but it's only a matter of brushing him away. His feathers linger sometimes, but it's only natural. What is most important is to remember that you are worthy, and that you always will be.

Tenci Earnshaw - Fourth Year - English Literature

38 views0 comments

Starting university can be daunting, but I took solace in the fact that nobody else knew what they were doing, right?

After the first few weeks I started doubting myself. How was it that everyone else already seemed to know everything? Seemed to completely understand what the lecturer was talking about whilst I furiously scribbled down notes that didn’t seem to make any sense?

The worst came in tutorials. My contributions felt meaningless and I often wouldn’t know the answer to a question when everyone else did.

My feelings of insecurity crept higher and higher as the first essay deadline loomed above us.

I remember overhearing another classmate discussing their argument for the same essay topic as I had chosen. Her argument sounded so good, structured and concise. Mine felt unstable and unsure, much like myself. Still, I thought to myself, nobody has been taught how to write a university level essay, we’re all going into this blind. I got my result back and felt happy, sort of. I got a 59, a 2:2, one of that pedestal like 2:1 grade. For my first essay, not too shabby. But the next day came and a new lecture, it seemed like I was the only person who hadn’t got a 2:1. Looking back, this was very untrue, I only actually heard two people say they got a 2:1. But at that moment I felt like a failure.

I had always been fairly academic, and certainly if I felt like I really tried my best, I would get a grade that reflected that. But at university things felt different. I felt like I could spend weeks researching my essays, doing extra reading and trying to improve, only to get a grade that I deemed ‘unacceptable’. The amount of pressure and expectation that I was putting on myself was unrealistic, I was expecting 2:1’s and firsts almost immediately.

The thought hadn’t crossed my mind that I might not get the high grades that I’d been used to in school and college. Feeling like I was failing, I started not trying. I felt like I didn’t deserve to be here. They must have made some mistake, I don’t deserve to be here, it’s only a matter of time before someone notices how badly I’m doing and kicks me out.

Feeling more and more overwhelmed I seriously contemplated dropping out. I remember standing outside the library sobbing to my mum about how lonely I felt, so out of place, felt like everyone else knew what they were doing and for some reason I couldn’t get it. She said that I should wait until Christmas, and if I still felt unhappy then I could drop out.

Still feeling low, I went to my friends room one night and we started talking about our courses and essay feedback. I admitted that I felt like everyone else seemed to get it but me. She felt the exact same way. I said that I felt my grades were awful compared to everyone else’s. She agreed. It turned out we were both going through the exact same feelings. I talked to more and more friends about it, and surprise surprise, we all felt the same way. We were letting our assumptions of how we should be coping with university get the better of us.

At this point my anxiety over essays had evolved to the point where I was too scared to even check my grades or open feedback. This didn’t help either, how was I supposed to learn if I didn’t read my feedback?

So I buckled in, and went over all my essay grades and feedback, making notes on what I needed to improve. I started doing extra reading, started formulating my own opinions and being more vocal again in tutorials. I accepted that sometimes in lectures I wouldn’t understand what was being talked about. That it was okay if I hated some modules to do with my degree. And the more I put in, the more I got out of university. My grades started to improve, I felt more confident with the material and made some incredible friends.

It can take a while but there will be a moment when you’re walking through the meadows at sunset, hearing the bagpipes, in Big Cheese with your mates, or waking up to fresh snow when it will hit you. You’re here. You made it. You’re in a beautiful city, with your whole life ahead of you, at one of the top universities in the UK. And you’re the person who got yourself here. You fully deserve to be here, and feeling unsure about your degree subject does not make you any less deserving. And if it’s any help, I’m in third year and still get confused about referencing.

Ellie Ring – Third Year – Ancient History

37 views0 comments
bottom of page