• Katie Heyes

Uni Mental Health Day - Bouncing Back/Our Heads Up Charity Stall/

So yeah… I think this is just about my longest hiatus yet. Unfortunately, the reasoning for this break goes beyond the typical excuses of “too much uni work” or been “a bit run down” – although they are certainly still applicable. A lot of you reading this will probably know the ins and outs of what I’ve been through this academic year so I won’t wattle on about it (at least not in this post!) But needless to say, this year has been one of the most mentally exhausting, painful, and traumatic times of my life so far. It’s only recently after moving out a few weeks ago that I realised how toxic the situation/ environment was for me and my mental wellbeing and how much it had (for lack of a better word) damaged my self-esteem. I was no longer in a place where I felt like I was any good to anyone, blogging-wise, social-wise or even academically. Sadly, this isn’t just my usual pessimistic way of over-thinking – this is realism. Life is full of highs and lows, and sadly this is something we can’t change. After dealing with trauma, you’ll naturally feel overwhelmed both physically and emotionally. However, a big part of recovery is how your resilience; your ability to cope and adapt with all these difficult challenges life can bring your way and how to “bounce back” after these tough, draining times. You can’t change the past, but you can take charge of how you embrace the future.

So I’m now taking this blog in a new direction. Today, I’m bouncing back. I’m starting my journey again. As the cheesy cliché goes, after hitting rock bottom, the only way is up.

And what better way to start getting back into the swing of things than today of all days – University Mental Health Day!

To be honest though, this date had completely slipped my mind. It wasn’t until a string of simultaneous DINGs came up on my phone that I realised our society would soon be running our own stall to celebrate the day around our own University. As some of you may know already I’m an Exec member for Heads Up – Durham’s own student mental health charity – and our goal for today was to give the students of Uni a voice. Tying into our recent Self-Love Campaign, instead of focusing on how stressful or daunting University can be, we wanted to hear what puts a smile on people’s faces. Our main goal was to get an insight into what self-care is like at University and what more the University or other welfare groups could offer in the future – what we got was truly inspirational and heart-warming.

Around midday our Exec began setting up our stall just outside the Student Union. We decided to go or an orange and pink colour scheme which is eye-catching and also fitting in with the upbeat and vibrant vibe for our Self-Love Campaign. After laying out plenty of sweet treats, sponsored coasters, whiteboards and the cute study advice crystals that President Sara made, we were all good to go. And let me tell you, I had a ball of a time.

It wasn’t a lively event, it wasn’t a big party, it wasn’t a large gathering, it was just…nice!

Just getting to meet so many friendly students with many motivational self-care tips and positive comments was really uplifting, and with the weather being on our side, it added to the cheery feeling of the day.

But what really surprised me was how much I got out of it. It made me realise so many things about myself.

Firstly, I realised how awful I’d be in the Apprentice. I couldn’t even give away the cakes for free! Thought honestly, the amount of brownies and doughnuts people helped themselves too was insignificant. It was more the feeling afterwards that really wore off on me. Seeing so many people interested in our cause, wanting to help and share their own stories was very encouraging. And the funny contributions such as Bradley Walsh being the thing that makes a person the happiest is just so wholesome in itself. Especially considering the low points I’ve experienced this year, surrounding myself with such bubbly, down to earth individuals – not just from our Exec team but all across Durham – made me even more determined to “bounce back.” I’d love to be there again to offer support and guidance to other people. Instead of feeling like a burden, I want people to see me as a giver/ sustainer in their lives. A joy and fun character to have around you. And I’ve not felt like that for almost a year now. I’ve never had that urge to make something of myself again…until today.

Today, University Mental Health Day brought the spark back in me to aim high and want to achieve more for myself. It may only be minor at the moment and still feel unmotivated and self-critical a lot of the time, but getting that buzz and thriving off that positivity from today gave me a more optimistic and resilient outlook on my future.

Now I can take my past in my stride and start my journey to recovery once again.

Onwards and Upwards!

- Katie x

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