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Change anything – by Charlotte Kenny

I’ve always found it excruciatingly difficult to talk openly about mental health and depression. Even typing those words made me tense. It’s not that I’m ashamed, but I was terrified of being judged – or worse – someone thought I was making it up for attention.

My university experience was not fun. Admittedly, you need to be somewhat academic, sociable and self-motivated to get through the whole 3-5 years. I barely have any of these skills, but university meant moving out of my parent’s house, and a chance to ‘find myself’. Well, I found myself hitting rock bottom in my second year.

I lived in a house with five other girls. Five other girls who were all slimmer, prettier and smarter than me. I was the fat, stupid friend. I have never been particularly confident, particularly with body image. Throw hormones and the impending doom of a degree into the equation, and you have a hot mess. Or rather, a fat, stupid mess. I wasn’t failing my course per say, but I was nowhere near doing as well as I should have been. I was just about scraping a pass for each assignment. I’d beat myself up each time I got my grade back, despite putting very little effort in, because my mind was preoccupied with nasty, negative thoughts, about anything and everything.

Not only did I appear to be stupid one in the house, but on my course too. In my eyes, I was never good enough. I was so inadequate at everything. My head got the best of me and I became my own worst enemy, to the point where I would rarely get out of bed. I skipped lectures, avoided socialising as much as humanly possible and only ate rubbish food. I put on more and more weight, making me hate myself even more. Every day I woke up, wishing I hadn’t, and would contemplate the ways I could end it all.

I still don’t know to this day how I got through that second year of university, and it’s something I still think about regularly. I think it must’ve been a mixture of things. Getting out of a mouldy (literally) student house. Getting closure from a previous on and off relationship and getting out of the academic institution for a year. Between my second and final year of university, I did a placement year of working in London for a PR company with a team that worked in the videogames industry, and I think that might have been what turned me around. I had to get myself into London every day. I had to socialise with people. I had a job I enjoyed. I had found a purpose.

If there is anything anyone takes away from this, all I want to encourage is change something. Anything. Anything you think could help you in any way, everything else will slowly have a domino effect on your life. I changed my environment and automatically felt different. Admittedly, out of my comfort zone, but a much needed shove out of it. The change of environment kicked me into changing my diet, my relationships, my own thoughts. Even if it’s something as minute as drinking more water, that is a change. Getting of the tube a stop early to get an extra 10 minutes of walking. That is a change. A change that will slowly, and gradually make life start to feel a little less crappy.