Mental Health and education – Accepting the stage you’re at

In life lots of us feel that we must be at a certain stage in order to be accepted, valid and important and I am one of these people. Perfectionism at its finest eh? We live in a society where if you haven’t passed your driving test by the age of 18, you’re a loser. Where if you haven’t started University at the age of 18, you’re destined to be a failure and so on. But these beliefs couldn’t be more wrong. In fact, I know lots of people who haven’t gone to University and they’ve chosen other life pathways such as jobs and volunteering. Some people even choose gap years, in which they spend their time travelling, making memories or gaining important life skills.

In life, we must do what is best for us, not what’s best for everybody else.

I would like everybody to know that stopping education to work on yourself and your welbeing is perfectly respected and acceptable. A few years down the line, your dream career will still be awaiting you and your dream University will still be standing waiting for you to begin your studies there.

Okay so, due to my Anorexia, Depression and Anxiety, I have had to take two years out of education which may or may not be frowned upon. After finishing my two years in College, I had to stop. I loved education too much and devoted all my time to it. All of my time, energies and focuses were going into my studies which can be both a positive and negative. I became isolated and glued to my laptop and assignments which isn’t healthy or balanced. My college work became like an addiction for me, I would work and work for hours on end in order to make my work perfect, in order to be the best and most hard-working student because those things held large values for me. And whilst doing this, I would use it to block out the negativity in my life including worries about food, weight and calories. It got to a point where I was repeatedly being asked by my teachers to STOP working and to take a break. I was always ahead on my work, I always recieved top marks and completed assignments to the best of my ability but it was never enough for me.

During this time, I have been working on myself and volunteering at the same time, meeting new people and animals and finding the strength to get through each day. But during these stages it was more important for me to focus on myself and my personal health needs. If I’ve learned anything during these two years, it’s that education can wait but your health can’t and that needs to be prioritised. It wouldn’t have been beneficial for me at all to begin University two years ago and I’m glad I made the decision not to.

At the end of the day, what’s the point in working for a degree when your health is slowly in decline? No, I’m not recovered and I am nowhere near that stage; my mental state (depression wise) is much more stable than it used to be. Sitting in a lecture hall feeling suicidal and destructive wouldn’t have done anybody any favours.

I begin University in September, still poorly, still Anorexic, still suffering with depression and anxiety. But I will be recieving help whilst I’m there, to go alongside my studies. Because I am now at a stage where I want to get back into education, a step closer to achieving my dream job of saving animals. I no longer want to put my education on hold because that is the right decision for me. It doesn’t matter if you choose to take five years out of education – your health and happiness is the most important thing.

Life doesn’t come with instructions, we live it the way we choose to but sometimes things may get in the way to put things on hold for a little while. But that’s okay and understandable. Whatever life pathway you choose, you’re still as valid and important as the next person. A degree doesn’t define your self worth or compassion, nor does it hold you back in any way, shape or form.

Please remember that in life, you are your main focus and it is okay to put yourself first.

Lots of love, Laur xxx

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