One of my biggest support networks for mental health has been my family. From late night conversations with my Mum, to heart-to-hearts with my Dad, or advice from my older siblings, and what I have learnt from all of these interactions, is the importance of communication and emotional honesty. Being away from home to study however, has shaken that particular network as it doesn’t always feel possible to properly express what’s wrong in a text or call late at night. The physical distance especially, adds an extra layer of difficulty to comforting each other.
In order to combat this, I have tried to develop new support networks. Which has been a bit of challenge for me complicated by social anxiety. This anxiety can make reaching out somewhat difficult as I sometimes just don’t know what to say or the best way to put it. However, I’ve muddled through all of this and managed to make friends anyway, and by challenging myself, this has gradually gotten better.
When I was defeated and at my lowest, wanting nothing more than to just give up and go home, I saw the true value of these relationships when I reached out and communicated these fears. While I was worried that I was overburdening others, I received nothing but support, and after exchanging stories and advice about what they had overcome and how they did it, I felt ready to fight again and complete my studies. The best piece of advice I received however, which gave me the motivation to continue, was to compare myself to the past me. That instead of comparing myself against others’ accomplishments, I should stop and see how far I’ve come, and that particular piece of advice meant more to me in that moment than I can express now.
I’ve found that in order to maintain a good sense of mental wellbeing, it is important to be self-aware and reflective.
I try to do this by keeping a diary/journal to track my thoughts if I’ve had a particularly good or bad experience. Because it’s good to read back and see how I’ve developed as a person, as well as have a bit of a laugh at my own expense over some of the silly things I’ve written when I was in a particular mood.