Fear And Not Feeling Good Enough

This is a feeling that hits all of us at some stage or other, infact I read somewhere recently that its a feeling that stalks most of us – and that sounds more real.

This ”not enough” feeling that can pop up in so many disguises; fear of change and also failure, the fear of being stuck and this is it, the fear of isolation and intimacy, the fear of being insignificant or seen too brightly .. their fear of what other people might say! – there are so many paradoxes  that can create the feelings of fear and ultimately not being enough in one shape or form.

So who gets to say what is good enough or not?  

I guess that is down to us! It can be no one else – although when we have feelings of inadequacy, or not being enough on one subject or another, we tend to not check in with ourselves, instead we tend to measure ourselves against others, seek approval or bend over backwards to please –  as if in some way this is going to help us feel better and more than rather than less than we already did.

The enough syndrome is created by us – and each time we feed into this, we give our inner critic more ammunition to beat us with all day long which in turn heightens our thoughts of not being enough.

There is also lots of media around that creates meaningless images of what is enough and we adopt those standards as our own, our peers, our siblings, our parents, guardians, teachers and every other person that is in our life – whether that is in actual life or through some media. It all contributes to our thoughts, our beliefs and in turn how we process this into our own self esteem and self worth.

What if you get to state what is enough and you decide right here and now that you are enough already. Just imagine – what would that change for you right now?

It is reported that we have 80 – 90,000 thoughts a day and most of these are repeated day in day out – the constant running dialogue in the background of our mind that is creating how we feel, how we think, how we respond and how we act – so imagine if most of those are negative and self limiting, self defeating – how do you think you are going to be feeling – thats right – pretty much NOT ENOUGH.

Now imagine if you did not have to do anything, did not have to say anything, had nothing to prove to state that you are already good enough – you are already exactly how you are meant to be and that is the perfect you. 

What if you get to state what is enough and you decide right here and now that you are enough already. Just imagine – what would that change for you right now?

So, we have already talked about all those thoughts that go round and round in your mind – driven by your inner critic. As Louise Hay says “A thought is just a thought and a thought can be changed” 

The first step here is to become aware – to become more and more aware of thoughts as they appear and to gently notice these, make a decision as to whether this is still something that you want to be creating in your life, and if not, to gently change that thought for a new thought.  

Sounds easy, however one thought is not going to change the world – imagine each thought as just a droplet of water and each time you have that thought it creates a further droplet – until you have a puddle, that can turn into a pond, a lake and then an ocean – 

as your thoughts expand in this way, then change begins to happen. Its a process of making peace with your inner critic, accepting where you are right now without conditions of having to do x, y or z first, knowing that you are doing the best that you can even when sometimes that doesn’t look so pretty. Changes will happen when you let go of beating yourself up and give yourself permission to accept yourself and all that you are, right now.

The more you approve, accept and love yourself the easier this process is. Love really is the miracle cure – loving ourselves creates miracles in our lives.  We aren’t talking about vanity or arrogance here, because thats not love – its fear. Its about having a greater respect for ourselves and gratitude for they miracle of our body and mind. 

In any one given moment we have a choice between love and fear.

It is each of our responsibility’s to love ourselves and to create the life that we want. Remember responsibility is simply the ability to respond in a loving way.


Is It Time to Review Your Self Care Routine?

Most people know how important it is to practice the right self-care routine. Of course, knowing that self-care is good for you, and actually implementing it into your life are two very different things.

For most people, a self-care routine is just another chore to add to the bottom of their to-do list. However, if you take the time to look at things like “Maslow’s hierarchy of Needs,” you’ll discover that self-care is a critical part of living a healthy and satisfying life.

Though we should all try to make time to help other people in our lives, that shouldn’t mean that you constantly ignore your own needs. Without any self-care, you begin to suffer from mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion that simply prevents you from making the most of your life.

So, how do you review your self-care routine, and create a schedule of support you can stick to?

Creating a Routine That You Can Commit To

For most, the challenge isn’t figuring out whether you need a self-care routine, or even determining whether yours is beginning to suffer. If you’re always exhausted, emotionally overwhelmed, and neglecting your basic needs, then you need self-care.

The trouble is, a good self-care routine takes time, commitment and effort. When you’re already struggling with a hectic schedule, it can seem like too much to even take five minutes aside to sit in silence. In fact, you may even convince yourself that those “me moments” aren’t as important as they seem.

Whether you’re just getting started with self-care, or you need help getting back into a routine you can stick to; the following tips should help.

1. Wake Up Early

If you’re not a morning person, this probably isn’t the kind of tip you were looking for. As difficult as it can be to drag yourself out of bed to the sound of a blaring alarm, the truth is that even an extra fifteen minutes added to your day can help to remove some of the chaos in your schedule. The moments you first wake up are a fantastic opportunity to set your mood for the rest of the day.

What’s more, if you get your self-care routine started first thing, you’re more likely to keep yourself in mind as you move through the rest of your schedule too. Wake up fifteen minutes ahead of schedule and do something that’s exclusively for you. That doesn’t mean getting ahead by checking your work emails. Sit down and listen to some uplifting music, relax with a little yoga, or try meditation.

2. Make a Healthy Meal Every Day

Healthy eating habits are a common component of a good self-care routine. The good news is that you don’t need to do a drastic detox or a juice cleanse to get yourself back into the right place after some time away from your self-care strategy. You don’t even need to jump into the latest diet craze, all you need to do is make sure that you’re getting the right dose of antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins whenever you can.

Instead of trying to revamp your entire eating strategy, focus on making one healthy meal a day, and supplementing it with healthy decisions throughout your schedule. For instance, you might have a green salad for lunch, and a cup of freshly-ground coffee to go with it. Fresh coffee beans are actually packed full of antioxidants, and they can give you the boost you need to get through the rest of your routine with a smile.

3. Keep It Simple 

One of the biggest things stopping people from reviewing their self-care routine is the worry that they won’t be able to follow a strict schedule. You don’t need to plan every second of your day to make sure that you’re looking after yourself. Instead, you just need to start with a few simple changes. For instance, start by looking at your current list of priorities.

Most people put work and earning money at the top, then family next, then time for themselves somewhere near the bottom. Every so often, put some time in your schedule to flip your priorities around. Forget about work for fifteen minutes and do something fun that just benefits you. This is your opportunity to indulge in listening to your favorite tunes or watching a great show without any judgment. You’re not selfish; you’re looking after yourself.

4. Get Some More Sleep 

Sleep is a basic human need, but it’s also something we forget about when we’re neglecting our self-care routines. While it’s tempting to push yourself as hard as your mind and body will allow to accomplish your career or personal goals, it’s worth remembering that you’re only human. Your brain and body need time to recuperate, so make sure that you’re still finding enough time for at least seven hours of sleep each night.

Not only will a good sleep strategy help you to handle your hectic day, but it should also assist in making you a more energetic and focused person. Without exhaustion plaguing all your thoughts, you can concentrate on each challenge as it presents itself to you and avoid the risk of common mental health problems like stress, anxiety or depression.

5. Protect your Boundaries

If you’re a parent, a caregiver, or just someone with a lot of people who rely on you, then you may have forgotten what “boundaries” actually are. Your boundaries are your basic limits, and they help people around you to respect your need for self-care so that you’re more likely to stick to your routine. If you put your boundaries in place carefully, you can remind your husband, wife, children, and anyone else in your social circle that you need time for you, too.

As hard as it can be to say “no,” or ignore the people who are closest to you, it’s critical to communicate your boundaries with your words, and your actions if you want your self-care routine to be successful. Ultimately, if you let other people see that you don’t see self-care as a priority, then they won’t treat it as important either.

6. Stay Flexible 

Finally, it’s important to remember that no matter how hard you try, and how carefully you plan, sometimes your schedule can get the better of you. It will be easier to practice self-care on some days than it is on others, and that’s fine. Just because you fall off the wagon at times doesn’t mean you should give up on your strategy altogether.

Don’t be too hard on yourself and remind yourself that life can be overwhelming. Just make sure that you don’t allow yourself to constantly ignore your needs or put your self-care routine to the back of your schedule too often. Take it one step at a time, be flexible, and eventually, you’ll get to where you need to be.


Exploring Anger in Therapy

Managing anger is something we can all learn to do better. This article introduces the basis of a better understanding of anger through an existential lens.

There are different aspects to this that I usually want to explore with my clients – I usually begin to look at what is already there: what helps and what doesn’t?

The historical dimension

How we manage our negative feelings is usually learned. I believe that whatever is learned can be unlearned even later in life. It is never ‘too late’ to reformulate our core beliefs.

It is useful for this purpose to think about what was taught to us about anger when we were growing up.

How was anger displayed?

How did your parents managed anger?

Was anger something that was encouraged or suppressed?

After the exploration of this historical dimension, we can move to understand what we can do with anger now. 

Feelings and behaviours

The crucial point to improving the management of anger is to differentiate between our feelings and our behaviour.

The feeling is the felt sense we experience in our body. There are a lot of different variations and forms of it: we might feel frustrated, annoyed, envious, mad, irritated, jealous, resentful, upset or aggravated. All those words refer back to the same primal feeling of anger. 

The behaviour is what we do, both physically and mentally with these emotions. What we commonly associate with anger is aggressive behaviour, lashing out at people, saying things we regret, being snappy and so on.

The main approach to anger management focuses on the basic distinction between feelings and behaviour. Once the client is able to differentiate the two, the next step is to validate the feelings and challenging the behaviour. 

It is very important to understand that we cannot change what we feel. We can only change what we do in response to the feeling. For instance we can learn to think about our anger in a different way or we can learn to respond to anger in a less harmful manner. The problem with anger is never the feeling, it’s the behaviour. 

If we feel something we need to allow ourselves to feel it, but we want to change how we act in response to it – In most cases, when I work on anger management, I find that the client finds it difficult to put a reflective space between the feeling and the action.

For the purpose of self-development we want to introduce a lapse of time between when we feel the feeling and when we respond to it. We want to move away from the dynamic of feeling-reaction. We want to promote actions we have been thinking about, not simple impulse responses.


Very often when we are angry, we are in touch with something that is really important for us. I often ask my clients to think about anger as a passion.

If instead of using the word anger, you would use the word passion, what would you be passionate about?

This usually leads the therapy away from simple behaviour management and into a more complex and meaningful reframing of priorities and choices.

Anger is a complex and meaningful feeling we all experience at times. As much as we don’t like to be angry we all need to face it sometimes.

What matters is to create a narrative in which anger, like any other feeling can be used as information. The more we learn to listen to our feelings, the better we can manage them.


World Mental Health Day: Suicide Prevention

This year’s theme set by the World Federation for Mental Health is suicide prevention.

In 2018, there were 6,507 registered suicides in the UK. What’s more shocking is that this rate is significantly higher than in 2017, and is the first increase since 2013.

Three quarters of registered deaths were among men (4,903) however the most significant increase is among woman age 10-24 years. This is the highest level increase since 2012.

Since 2013 we have been seeing a gradual decline in suicides however last year that changed and we have now seen a significant increase.

The office of national statistics has stated that often suicide rates tend to fluctuate year to year; therefore it is too early to tell whether the latest increase represents a change in the recent trend.

At Harmless we feel that one death is too many and are saddened by this increase. In response to the significant increase in young female deaths our theme for 2020’s conference is: ‘Apathy: The growing need for us to listen to our ‘hysterical’ women.’

Conference details here: http://www.harmless.org.uk/store/From-Harm-to-hope-conference-2020

From Harm to Hope: Friday 28th February 2020

In honor of World Mental Health Day we are asking everyone to reach out to someone. Reach out to that friend who lives alone, the friend who just finished university and moved home, the colleague at work who seems less chatty than usual, the person you know who’s just moved house….reach out to the friend who always seems fine. We never know the power of asking someone how they are and really meaning it.

For years people have been taught that they could be psychologically health without social support, and that “unless you love yourself, no one else will love you”….however we know that is not true. You cannot love yourself unless you have been loved and are loved. The capacity for love and healing cannot be built in isolation. So never underestimate the power of reaching out to someone and experiencing genuine connection. It could save their life.


If your or someone you know are struggling please contact a service for support from the list below:

Samaritans offer a 24-hours a day, 7 days a week support service. Call them FREE on 116 123. You can also email jo@samaritans.org

Papyrus is a dedicated service for people up to the age of 35 who are worried about how they are feeling or anyone concerned about a young person. You can call the HOPElineUK number on 0800 068 4141, text 07786 209697 or email pat@papyrus-uk.org

NHS Choices: 24-hour national helpline providing health advice and information. Call them free on 111.

C.A.L.M.: National helpline for men to talk about any troubles they are feeling. Call 0800 58 58 58.

Support After Suicide Partnership offers practical and emotional support on their website for people bereaved and affected by suicide.

The Tomorrow Project offers free therapeutic support to anyone struggling with suicidal thoughts. We also support anyone bereaved by suicide.
















The Problem with Yelling

“The problem with verbal abuse is there is no evidence,” Marta shared. She came for help with a long-standing depression.

“What do you mean lack of evidence?” I asked her.

“When people are physically or sexually abused it’s concrete and real. But verbal abuse is amorphous. I feel like if I told someone I was verbally abused, they’d think I was just complaining about being yelled at.” Marta explained.

“It’s much more than that.” I validated.

“Much more.” She said.

“The problem is no one can see my scars.” She knew intuitively that her depression, anxiety and deep-seated insecurity were wounds that stemmed from the verbal abuse she endured.

“I wish I was beaten,” Marta shared on more than one occasion. “I’d feel more legitimate.”

Her statement was haunting and brought tears to my eyes.

Verbal abuse is so much more than getting scolded. Marta told me that there were many reasons her mother’s tirades were traumatizing:

•    The loud volume of her voice

•    The shrill tone of her voice

•    The dead look in her eyes

•    The critical, disdainful and contemptuous facial expression that made Marta feel hated.

•    The long duration—sometimes her mother yelled for hours.

•    The names and insults, you’re spoiled, disgusting, and wretched.

•    The unpredictability of that “flip of the switch” that turned her mother into someone else.

•    And, perhaps worst of all, the abandonment.

“It is not just that I felt assaulted. It’s that when I did something that flipped her switch, my mother was gone and replaced by a monster. That’s exactly what it felt like. I was totally alone.” Tears welled up in Marta’s eyes.

Being frequently yelled at changes the mind, brain and body in a multitude of ways including increasing the activity of the amygdala (the emotional brain), increasing stress hormones in the blood stream, increasing muscular tension, and more. Being frequently yelled at changes how we think and feel about our Self even after we become adults and leave home. That’s because the brain wires according to our experiences—we literally hear our parents’ voices yelling at us in our heads even when they are not there. Marta had to work hard every day to push away the onslaught coming from inside her mind.

Attachment and infant-mother research confirms what we all intuitively know: that humans do better when they feel safe and consistently loved, which means among other things, being treated with respect. What is news to many of us is that we are born with fully matured, hard-wired, core emotions like sadness, fear, and anger.

When fear, for example, is repeatedly triggered by a harsh environment, like one where there is lots of yelling, automatic physical and emotional reactions occur that cause traumatic stress to a child. The stress in their little brains and bodies increases from anything that feels attacking including loud voices, angry voices, angry eyes, dismissive gestures and more.

Children do better when they are calm. The calmer and more connected the caregiver, the calmer and more secure is their child. And the healthier it is for the child’s brain and body.

The following are some things we can remember to help young brains develop well and help our children feel safe and secure.*

  • Know that children have very real emotional needs that need proper tending. In general, the more these needs are met, the easier it will be for the child to be resilient in the face of life’s challenges.

  • Learning about core emotions will help you to help your child successfully manage emotions.

  • You can affect your child’s self-esteem by being kind, compassionate and curious about their mind and world.

  • When a break in the relationship occurs, as often happens during conflicts, try to repair the emotional connection with your child as soon as possible.

  • You can help your child feel safe and secure by allowing them to separate from you and become their own person, welcoming them back with love and connection, even when you are angry or disappointed in their behaviors. You can calmly discuss your concerns and use opportunities as teachable moments.

Yelling at children is counter to all of the above, as is hitting and crossing physical/sexual boundaries of any kind.

The last time I saw Marta, she told me she had received upsetting news over the weekend.

Marta said, “I told myself, my distress will soon pass and I’ll be ok. And, then I worked the Change Triangle. I named, validated and felt the sadness in my body as I gave myself compassion. After I spent time with my feelings, I took a walk through the park and looked at nature. I felt better.”

So proud of the way she could now self-soothe, I said, “What a wonderful mother you were to yourself.”

She smiled and said, “Yeah. It really does feel better when I don’t beat myself up.”

The mother who lived inside her mind used to condemn her with such mean and unhelpful comments as: Serves you right! Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill! or Who cares about you?

The harsh mother inside Marta had indeed mellowed.

As a parent, it is not easy to control one’s temper or realize if we’ve crossed the line into verbal abuse. There is a slippery slope between being a strict disciplinarian and what will traumatize a young brain. A little awareness goes a long way in this case. Being aware of one’s behavior, listening to our tone of voice and choice of words, and watching our body language, all help keep us in check.

Little children, who can act tough, defiant, or even indifferent to our actions, are still vulnerable to trauma. Our own childhood experiences, wonderful, horrible, and everything in between, need to be remembered and honored. And we can all strive to help our families evolve: to pay forward more of the best, gentle experiences we received as children than the painful ones.


World Mental Health Day

This year’s theme set by the World Federation for Mental Health is suicide prevention.

What are mental health problems?

Our mental health is just like our physical health: everybody has it and we need to take care of it.

Mental health problems affect around one in four people in any given year. They range from common problems, such as depression and anxiety, to rarer problems such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Prevention is something that we can all individually help with. A short conversation with another person can sometimes be enough to make the difference between life and death for them.

Suicide prevention: WAIT

Prevention is something that we can all individually help with. A short conversation with another person can sometimes be enough to make the difference between life and death for them.

The advice ‘WAIT’ is one good way to remember how you can support another person who may be suicidal. It stands for:

Watch out for signs of distress and uncharacteristic behaviour

e.g. social withdrawal, excessive quietness, irritability, uncharacteristic outburst, talking about death or suicide

Ask “are you having suicidal thoughts?”

Asking about suicide does not encourage it, nor does it lead a person to start thinking about it; in fact it may help prevent it, and can start a potentially life-saving conversation

It will pass – assure your loved one that, with help, their suicidal feelings will pass with time

Talk to others – encourage your loved one to seek help from a GP or health professional such as The Tomorrow Project.


Seeking support for yourself

Samaritans offer a 24-hours a day, 7 days a week support service. Call them FREE on 116 123. You can also email jo@samaritans.org

Papyrus is a dedicated service for people up to the age of 35 who are worried about how they are feeling or anyone concerned about a young person. You can call the HOPElineUK number on 0800 068 4141, text 07786 209697 or email pat@papyrus-uk.org

NHS Choices: 24-hour national helpline providing health advice and information. Call them free on 111.

C.A.L.M.: National helpline for men to talk about any troubles they are feeling. Call 0800 58 58 58.

Support After Suicide Partnership offers practical and emotional support on their website for people bereaved and affected by suicide.

The Tomorrow Project offers free therapeutic support to anyone struggling with suicidal thoughts. We also support anyone bereaved by suicide.

Can you help our training team?

Our training team here at Harmless are in desperate need of a training laptop. Our wonderful trainers travel the country delivering a vast rage of training from mental health, to self harm to suicide intervention. The training they deliver not only equips individuals in supporting others (and saving lives!), but also funds a lot of Harmless and The Tomorrow Project services.

As our service demands increase and referrals grow we need to meet those needs internally too. Our training team has also grown but with it we now need another laptop.

Can you help us?

Many of our wonderful people who we support prefer to donate an item that will really make a difference.

If you would like to support our service please take a look at our Amazon Wish List and see a laptop we have added.

On behalf of our team: thankyou! Your support is truly appreciated. If you buy something off this list please send us an email to info@harmless.org.uk so we can personally thank you.



Moving closer to the sea could make you happier

Long have us citydwellers thought we should pick up and move to the seaside for the sake of our mental health. Now there’s some proper scientific backing for that pondering.

New research suggests that those who live close to the sea have better mental health than those who live far from the coast. That’s regardless of their household income, so it’s not as simple as just being able to afford a home – there seem to be mental health benefits specifically from living nearer the sea.

Researchers from the University of Exeter used survey data from 25,963 participants and found that those who live less than a kilometre from the coast are 22% less likely to have symptoms of a mental health disorder than those who live 50km or more away. People in low-income households less than a kilometre from the coast are around 40% less likely to have symptoms, compared to those earning the same amount living more than 50km away.

We don’t know exactly why this is, but researchers believe their findings back up the idea that ‘blue spaces’ – like green spaces, but with the sea – can improve your wellbeing. Dr Jo Garrett, who led the study, said: ‘Our research suggests, for the first time, that people in poorer households living close to the coast experience fewer symptoms of mental health disorders.

Dr Mathew White, environmental psychologist at the University of Exeter, said: ‘This kind of research into blue health is vital to convincing governments to protect, create and encourage the use of coastal spaces. ‘We need to help policy makers understand how to maximise the wellbeing benefits of ‘blue’ spaces in towns and cities and ensure that access is fair and inclusive for everyone, while not damaging our fragile coastal environments.’ It’s important to note, of course, that the causes of mental illness are complex.

While the results of this study might tip the scales in favour of living by the coast, we can’t declare that packing up and moving to live by the sea is a magical cure for all mental ills. After all, it’s hard to be in the best mental space if you drastically change your life with no safety net in terms of a job, friends, and a place to live. If you’re struggling with your mental health, chat to your GP or a therapist before planning a big move.

Moving closer to the sea could make you happier


Finding First Year Of Uni Hard? Take It From Me, You’re Not Alone

Five years ago, I left home to go to university, eager to begin The Time Of My Life.

I remember the floral bedsheets I picked out in Ikea with my mum; I remember the way the student halls smelled. What I don’t remember exactly is the day I started to feel weighed down and full of dread, or the morning on which getting out of bed began to seem impossible.

I think it started sometime during the second term. I remember coming home for Christmas and hearing from the school friends who’d also started university about how much they were enjoying it: stories about funny things happening on nights out, the new lifelong friendships they were making, the leases they’d signed for second year flats. It seemed like everyone I knew had naturally fallen into place – except me.

It’s not that I didn’t have any mates at uni, I had people I went out with – I just didn’t feel like I belonged anywhere. And first year, with its 40% pass grade and awful Freshers events, was meant to be all about making friends and having fun – but I was even failing at that. I remember feeling like I was slowly sinking.

Or do I? Depression makes your memory hazy. I do know that my moods kept worsening as the winter tentatively turned into spring and I sunk deeper into the mental sludge. But there was a long in-between period where I’d spend winter afternoons having panic attacks alone in my room and crying, only to feel okay enough to go out the next night. I’d convince myself, silently and repeatedly, that I was just making excuses for my own failures.

“First year was meant to be all about making friends and having fun – but I was even failing at that”

I wasn’t depressed, I was lazyIt was my own fault everything felt numb.

Predictably, this cyclical thinking only reinforced feelings of guilt and made me feel less able to help myself. That slow burn – the fact that I did have highs between the lows – made it easier for me to ignore that I was spiralling. I can’t be depressed, I thought. Depressed people don’t go out!

It made the period harder to distill in my mind. “I thought you were having a great time”, my mum said on the phone when I finally told her one night in April. I felt split; no extended period of time is ever entirely good or bad. But at some point the bad bits had started to eat away at me.

With hindsight, I can see now how I didn’t help the situation. At eighteen, I was doing a laughable job of looking after myself. For anyone with patterns of low moods and anxiety, the combination of a transition, vast stretches of unstructured time, being away from friends and family, and drinking and drugs is a disaster waiting to happen. I now know I’m someone who needs to be busy.

I’d been a good student in school, genuinely passionate about the subjects I’d come to study, but I lost focus as I sank into a rut of dead time filtered through a haze of smoke. And as was constantly emphasised: first year grades didn’t count, anyway! I became untethered to the university structure, a student in name only. My sleep cycle was, frankly, beyond fucked – I was constantly sending embarrassed emails to the indifferent PhD students who ran our 9am seminars.

“Sometime between series twelve and thirteen of Come Dine With Me repeats, one of my flatmates staged a mild intervention”

I felt ashamed and disgusted with myself – a spoiled shit wasting my parents’ money and opportunities many didn’t have – but these feelings never seemed to work as a motivating force out of the state I was in; they only made me feel more paralysed. I wasn’t a complete outlier: many first years appeared to be living an unmoored existence of constant drinking, getting high and only occasionally passing a sideways glance at the set texts. I just happened to be one of the ones who fell off.

Sometime between series twelve and thirteen of Come Dine With Me repeatsone of my flatmates staged a mild intervention and made me go the GP. By this point it had become undeniable: I’d somehow stumbled from feeling low and unmotivated to going days without showering, barely getting out bed and hardly eating. I went on antidepressants and started seeing a counsellor through the university’s (sorely lacking) mental health service. For weeks SSRIs made me so nauseous I couldn’t get up without feeling sick, but in the end medication helped. I stayed on fluoxetine for 18 months before tapering off it at the beginning of third year. I don’t think I’d have stayed at uni otherwise.

Over the next three years, I made the best friends I could ask for. I worked hard at my degree, got a part-time job and increasingly involved with the student newspaper. I began to learn how to weather periods of intense anxiety and low moods. And I found that many of my friends had had similar experiences. While first year is fun for many, others find it overwhelming, disappointing and difficult.

“The prevalence of mental health issues among students points to systemic issues that need tackling in the higher education and healthcare services”

There’s a neediness to Freshers’ Week that borders on the hysterical; terrified school leavers necking 35cl bottles of Glen’s vodka in a desperate stab at friendship, or at least at fitting in. It’s a period of time so heavily constructed around going out and being social that it can be hard to admit you’re not loving it, or even coping.

It’s common though: one in four students suffer from mental health problems, with stresses over finances, workload and isolation dominating. If you find yourself struggling, I can guarantee you’re not the only person in your year, your halls or probably even your flat feeling that way. Talk to the people you’re closest to – whether that’s your friends from home or family. It helps. Go to your GP and get in touch with your personal tutor at university. This may seem daunting, but they have a responsibility to help, and they’ll be able to point you in the direction of your university’s counselling services as well as put you down for extenuating circumstances if your attendance or marks have suffered. Depression robs you of structure: having external support systems in place is an important way of getting that back.

Clearly, the prevalence of mental health issues among students points to systemic issues that need tackling in the higher education and healthcare services, including the chronic underfunding of mental health services. But on a personal level, when I think of that time, I think of all the other people who felt like they were drowning, came close to dropping out or did. And when I do, I think of us all in our separate rooms across student hall blocks, each thinking we were the only one.