Being an undergraduate was very difficult for me. Plagued by serious mental health issues, low self-esteem, loneliness, and isolation. I could not talk about how I felt, it was not something I could do. The only way I made it through my undergraduate degree is because I was assigned a Disability Adviser and they drew up a plan where I felt comfortable attending seminars and lectures. They were very supportive. The University of Sheffield has a great set of support services.
I went on to study for a Masters and this was a great year where I made many friends, though after this I would experience a lot of lows. I struggled to find a job, I had bad anxiety, and low self-esteem. On one occasion, I did not leave my house for a week. Most people I knew had moved away from Sheffield, so I felt very lonely, and I am really glad I made it out of this period alive. Though, I was empty from inside. I often listened to Al Pacino’s speech from Any Given Sunday:
We are in hell right now, gentlemen believe me and we can stay here and get the shit kicked out of us or we can fight our way back into the light. We can climb out of hell. One inch, at a time.
Feeling the lows I felt, starting out a PhD in September 2014, I had nothing to lose. Slowly, I started to fight off my anxiety. I took small steps, saying ‘Hello’ to strangers, recording myself speak and listening to it back, delivering very short presentations and increasing the length bit by bit, I volunteered to do temp work where I would have to speak to people. By taking very small steps I manged to fight my fears, to climb out of hell.
The last two years or so have been good, I have met many people across the world. I have made new friends. I have worked on a number of interesting and important projects, I have delivered a number of talks.
I made it to BBC Radio Sheffield last week to talk about my journey. I would like to dedicate the achievement to all of the brilliant teachers, and support workers that helped me over the years.
You can listen to the interview here, and it starts at the 1 hour 35 minute mark.