Tips for Dealing with Long Distance Relationships at Uni (written by someone who is still learning)

We’re a bit cute

During my boyfriends fresher’s week, I was ‘thrilled’ (note intense sarcasm) to hear that he would be going on a themed night out where he would be handcuffed to two girls. The whole thing was so new to me and I had no idea how to cope with it. I was anxious because as a couple we had been thrown into a whole new situation where he was living in London and experiencing new things, and I was sat at home. The uncertainty of how the night would work, as well as not knowing the people he was with, caused a lot of worrying. Everyone deals with uncertainty differently, but it made me incredibly anxious.

I told him of my worries and what upset me even more was that he himself was beginning to worry that I didn’t trust him. This upset me because never, in the three years we have been together, has he given me a reason not to trust him. So why was I so worried? I think it was picturing him in such close contact with other girls, the possibility of them flirting with him, regardless of him reciprocating. My anxiety makes me think things that aren’t true, and I feel awful that I put my boyfriend through my topsy-turvy mood swings. Being with him is one of the only things that calms me down, so distance is a bitch.

So my first tip on dealing with long distance is this: COMMUNICATE! If you’re worried, bloody tell him/her! If not, you’ll spend countless evenings lying in bed wondering what he/she is doing and driving yourself crazy, when the reality is they’re probably thinking of you and wishing you were dancing along with them. Tip 2: texting is not an effective form of communication.We all know we say things via text that we wouldn’t out loud. You can come across in a moody way even if you’re not meaning to, and things can sound more harsh if you ‘accidentally’ full-stop him/her in the middle of an argument (despite you actually using proper grammar!). So make sure you both take some time to call or FaceTime, perhaps every other day. You’ll find you talk about things you wouldn’t bother to text about, like that coughing fit you had in a silent library earlier. Speaking over the phone is especially important during an argument because hearing each others voice allows you to access how each other are feeling.

Tip 3: Keep them in the loop

Jamie came to see me in Leeds at least once a month in first year

During your first few weeks at uni, you’ll be meeting all kinds of new people, and it is a time for you to put yourself out there as an individual for perhaps the first time. Do things for yourself and don’t be afraid to make new friendships, but don’t forget about your boyfriend/girlfriend at home. In phone calls you could tell them about the people you’ve met, the good and the bad. A good rule is to say goodnight before you go on a night out, that way your partner won’t be waiting for you to reply to a text you haven’t read because you’re having too much fun.
Similarly, if you’re the one staying at home, remember that your partner is experiencing a whole new life, and trust them to do so without leaving you behind.

Tip 4: Keep the romance!
This may come as a surprise to some of you, but postmen still exist! So why not write a cute note and post it to your boyfriend/girlfriend? Or, if that isn’t techy enough for you, send them a Moonpig card! Getting stuff in the mail is always a lovely surprise as it’s something that is becoming rarer nowadays.

Tip 5: TRUST
Has he/she ever given you a reason not to trust them? If not, why worry? Just roll with it and be happy they’re having a good time. A good way to build trust is to be open about new friendships, ask them if you can meet their new friends and try to get along with them. If you can trust the people your partner is living with, you’ll find coping with the distance much easier.

As I say, I am still learning. The person you really need to ask about dealing with long distance relationships is my boyfriend *queue soppy-needy-girlfriend mode* who has this whole thing down (but still misses me, I hope!).







Directions to Escaping your Anxious Mind Maze

Please note: tips are not guaranteed to provide an easy escape route from the maze: you may reach dead ends and have to start over, but if you’re lucky you’ll find secret passages out
  1. Write a list of 5 things you’re grateful for today
  2. Go for a walk (I know everyone tells you do to this and if you’re feeling particularly down you won’t want to, but try!!)
  3. Tell someone how you feel, even if that someone is your diary
  4. Write a list of the negative things in your head and next to each one write a way you could fix it
  5. Give someone a good old hug – they never fail
  6. Don’t be so hard on yourself, you’ll get there
  7. If you run around the maze you’ll get out quicker, so go for a run!
  8. Go and sit outside, vitamin D is an invisible miracle worker
  9. Write a to-do list – it will help you feel more motivated
  10. SMILE, even if you don’t feel like it
Good luck! 

Mental Health in the Workplace: Shhh!

Today I realized first hand that telling your boss you need to go home because you are feeling mentally unstable is not done and not even considerable. Today I was close to having a panic attack, a mental shut down. Instead of explaining my mental situation, I considered physical illnesses that could require me to leave quickly. Instead of telling my boss I was lost in my own mind, I lied and said my mum was picking me up and taking me for lunch, when really she took me home so I could calm down for an hour.
It was when I got home that I realized just how many times I had been in this situation whilst working at the restaurant I also work in. On many occasions, I have told my boss I felt sick, or was about to have an asthma attack, when I really wanted to curl up in a ball and disappear.
These realisations have made me re-question what I already knew: why isn’t mental illness considered as serious as physical illness? Why, if someone suddenly has, for example, projectile vomit at work, can they get sent home, when someone who has an anxiety attack is forced by society to hide in the toilets until the red of their eyes disappears and they stop shaking? If someone has an accident and has to quit their job for a while, they can make a full recovery and get a new job afterwards. Or, even better, their current employment will make alterations to the workplace to fit their new needs. However, if someone falls into depression, not only does society encourage them to cover it up, but when they go to get a new job, they will most likely have to lie on their application and say they have never suffered from mental illness. Who wants to employ someone who may call in sick because they’re feeling down? They don’t know what down means.
Mental illness can be caused by almost anything. A death, your upbringing, your health, your finance, your job. There needs to be more understanding in the workplace about mental health. People suffering are still people and still deserve the right to work – it can often help you get better. If they are unable to get a job, they stay at home, they get lonely and more depressed. In what world is this okay? This one, apparently.

Counselling???

When I first got put on to Citalopram in summer 2014, I was advised to seek counselling also, but I never did. I think it was a fear of admitting I had a problem I needed to get past. Going to the doctors in the first place was hard enough – I booked and cancelled the appointment about four times! At university, I had filled in the self-referral form for the student counselling centre in about September, but it wasn’t until February 2016 that I actually brought myself to book an appointment.

The first appointment was traumatic, as was the second. The first was an assessment by a man that might not necessarily be my counsellor for the rest of the sessions – and he wasn’t. So to two different people I had to recount my issues. I realise now that facing the issues and thinking about the past was what I struggled with. My counsellor for my sessions was a woman, named Joanna. By our second proper session the tears had stopped, and we were able to discuss issues, instead of me simply telling her the way I felt. It was something I had never done before. My doctor at home was not a counsellor; I had never been able to make progress in dealing with the problems and moving forward, and that’s what Joanna helped me to do.

Joanna would not only listen to what I said, she listened to how I said it; what my facial expressions were as I said and what my body language was like. She considered my precise word choice – things I didn’t think about but my subconscious did. She noticed the way I tensed up as soon as I said certain names, and recognised happiness when talking about others.

Each week I felt myself progressing. I realised that I was a different person than I was at sixth form, and that it was okay that things have changed since secondary school. I have started to recognise when I am feeling down and can take actions to prevent a crash. I don’t worry what people will think if I’m sat on my own anymore, and I am confident to ask friends to meet for a coffee. I’m not saying I’m ready to go to the doctors and be taken off citalopram, but it’s a start.

I admit, the thing that has pushed me over the edge into becoming a more positive person was booking a flight to New Zealand. My best friend moved there at the end of year 11 and I’ve struggled ever since. I’m not saying that every one suffering with this sort of problem should magic up some money and book a once in a lifetime trip. What I’m saying is that if you know that something is going to make you happier than anything else could, do it. Whatever it is. My counsellor could only help me so far, the rest has been up to me.

If you don’t try to change your life, it will stay the same. Don’t keep putting counselling off if you’re scared. Life is about new experiences, so don’t shut yourself off – you don’t know what you’re missing. I wouldn’t miss this trip to New Zealand for the world.

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As always, if you have any thoughts to share, please do! I never know if people really read this or not…

5 Steps to coping with Anxiety at University (written by a very anxious person!)

Most of these are pretty obvious, but as the end of my first semester approaches I’m trying to figure out these steps in my own head as well, so I personally found it pretty useful to write!

1. Forget your past

Personally, I hated sixth form. After 5 years of secondary school being surrounded by friends, and knowing the name of every person in my year, moving to a sixth form with over 1,300 in my year alone was pretty daunting. I come from a very small village and my sixth form was in the middle of a city, which meant most people had already formed their friendships. The girls I did make friends with eventually got bored of me and decided we weren’t friends anymore… I didn’t get the memo, apparently.
So after two years of eating lunch alone, walking to classes alone, and getting the train alone, I doubted very much that anyone would want to be friends with me at uni. I thought there must be something wrong with me – I didn’t say cool enough things or laugh at the right moments, I don’t know!
I know some people will have had it far worse than me. Sometimes I even liked the solitude… Sometimes. Anyway, you have to put bad experiences behind you, and don’t let them get in the way of what’s going on now. The people you meet at university have no idea what your past is like; it is literally the epitome of a fresh start. Be confident because no one knows that you aren’t. Smile because no one knows you’ve been unhappy. 

2. Remember everyone is in the same boat, even when you’re sinking! 

By that, I mean that when you’re having a down day and missing home, other people are too!
Shockingly, one of my most special moments of Freshers week is when my mum and dad left. My bedroom door was wedged open while they hugged me goodbye. I told mum, ‘just get this over with quickly’, like ripping off a plaster – I’d been fearing the moment all day and had been in constant tears.
They walked out of the flat and one of my new flatmates walked in and gave me a hug. We had only met a few hours earlier, and I barely knew how to pronounce her first name! She gave me a hug and said ‘Do you need a cup of tea?’ (You will find tea becomes a social necessity). We walked into the kitchen and put the kettle on, and were soon joined by other snivelling flatmates, fresh from tearing their parent plasters off too.  So we all sat together, all telling our sad little stories of our farewells, and these stories soon turned into other stories, which turned us into fab friends.

3. If you don’t want to go out, don’t! 

You’ll probably work yourself up into an anxious mess by going, so why put yourself through it!

4. Open up to those you trust

A night out where I left early in tears led to me explaining my anxiety and depression to a flatmate I had known a matter of weeks, and I am so thankful for that. It started a bond between us and I know I can trust her when I am low. It helps you feel less alone, and you never know how similar you are to people once you open up.

5. Remember how hard you worked for this 

Joined the many Freshers taking photos..
Why should you feel sad at university? You worked your ass off through two years of A Levels for this! Every night out should feel like a results day party – this is it! Make the most of every opportunity, university is the time! Be proud of yourself for waking up with a hangover, not guilty! Mix in with university life and open up your eyes to this, crazy, crazy ride! 

I always wonder what people think of things I write on here, so PLEASE PLEASE, leave a comment!