Stress related illnesses are on the rise, but education about them is seriously lacking. Everyone at some point will suffer from a stress related illness but not everyone will know what symptoms to look out for. We recently spoke to 3 different students, who decided to share their experiences with stress, in the hope that by sharing they will help someone else.
Laura is a final year student living away from home, and her battle with stress began at the end of her first year.
“Basically I was really worried about money by the end of my first year, and I carried all that with me into my second year. Everything got worse going into second year because I was trying to balance uni, work and visiting my family whilst worrying about money and my university work. I ended up being diagnosed with having disassociation brought on by stress, which basically meant there were times when I just wouldn’t feel anything.
I’d be completely emotionless, demotivated and basically feeling like I was just walking around in a grey fog. This started affecting my uni work and thats when I knew to seek help to find out what was going on. Talking to a counsellor really helped me, and they pointed me in the direction of some NHS stress reduction tools. I haven’t had a disassociation episode in months now and I’m so glad I went to get help.”
Georgia’s issues with stress developed through trying to juggle full time work with studying full time.
“I started working for this company part time when I was like 16 (ish), and by the time I was 18 I was basically working full time in a supervisor role. my course that I’m studying is really intense, and requires a lot of participation outside of the timetabled sessions. By the middle of my second year I was lucky if I got even one day off a week. There were times where I would work a 12 hour shift, get home at 3am, sleep for 4 or 5 hours and then go into uni for 7 hours .
It really wasn’t sustainable – I wasn’t eating, I’d fall asleep if I sat down for too long and I was really burnt out. I think my breaking point was when I went to the dentist because my gums were bleeding, and he told me that it was a quite severe side effect of stress. Seriously, I was so stressed that even my gums were stressed. I eventually quit my job and I’m so much happier for it, I’m going into my final year ready to give it my all and come out with the best results possible.”
Holly’s struggle with stress came about over the Christmas period one year, and she struggled with her mental health at the same time. (If you feel you are struggling with your mental health then we have provided several helpful links at the end of the article.)
‘I was going through a low period when I struggled with stress, and I think they both impacted on each other a lot. I’d started a new part time job in second year, and around Christmas time my shifts started increasing to the point where I was working most of the week. I’ve always spent Christmas time with my family, but due to my workplace piling all these shifts onto me I only really got to spend 2 days with my family. That combined with stress of constantly working in a fast paced environment, and being home alone because my housemates were all home for Christmas meant that I really started to struggle.
I was that busy and stressed that I literally didn’t have time to eat – I started to smoke occasionally, and that stopped my hunger on my breaks at work. It was a really difficult time, but I confided in my friends about how I was struggling and they helped me to carry on and helped me to help myself. I’ve quit that job now, and I had a few months’ break once I finished uni and took some time out for myself and had some holidays. I’ve recently started a graphic design apprenticeship, and I went into it with a clear mind, and with all my friends there to watch and support me.”