When lockdown began in March 2020 and the University closed officially, I remember being quite disappointed as I had a really important dissertation meeting the following day with my tutor which was crucial to me continuing with my research. Understandably, this meeting was pushed back by a few weeks due to the need for lecturers to remap and record all content so that it could be delivered in a professional format to all students.
However, at the same time I also had five other assessment deadlines quickly approaching and had planned out my days by the hour to make sure that I could get everything done with my first deadline being in April for my dissertation. This meant that by my meeting being delayed, all my planning was thrown into the air and I started to fall behind. I was always pretty good with deadlines as a student and it made me feel very uneasy. I was thankful that the 'No Detriment Policy' was in place as it enabled me to have a little bit more time for assessments and I could give them a final once over to check for grammar errors as well as any sentences that didn’t make sense.
Even with in place though, I started to notice that I couldn’t sleep at night and I had a constant ringing noise in both ears every time that I put my head on the pillow and tried to go to sleep. I put it down to drinking too much caffeine and converted over to completely decaf, but the ringing didn’t stop. As the days went on my patience began to run thin and the sleep deprivation alongside the looming deadlines became too much. I spent hours of the days in tears and panicking that I was going to fail my degree. I completely zoned out of doing work and just sat there staring at my screen for hours and hours.
I eventually got in touch with the University to say that I needed help, I couldn’t sleep or concentrate and I started to panic that all the work I had put in for the first two and a half years of my degree was going to go to waste. I managed to get an extra few days for one of my assignments which helped me to take a step back and have a breather to try and support myself and stop stressing. It was a really hard time for me, and my mental health really deteriorated as did my ability to look after myself whilst trying to study. The day that I submitted the final assignment for my degree it was a humongous relief. I felt as if a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. It’s the first time I have really spoken about it or written it down but I did really suffer between March and June and it’s nice to be able to openly write about it and release the feelings I had pent up for so long.
With this article, what I wanted to say is that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel no matter what situation you're facing. I was really tough on myself during my degree and put enormous amounts of pressure on myself to get a first. From having conversations with my family, personal tutor and lecturers they tried their best to highlight to me that there is so much more to life and your career than your degree classification. At the time I couldn’t see it but reflecting back now I wish I hadn’t been so hard on myself as it began to take away some of the enjoyment out of my degree course which I found so fascinating.
The effects that the lockdown has had on everyone’s mental heath has been significant and I truly thank the Students' Union and the University for all they did to try and support me when I was having a tough time. Please do reach out if you're struggling with your mental health. We all have to stick together during the lockdown, and although everyone’s experiences are completely different during this time, we are all stuck in the same groundhog day rut.
No matter how hard things seem, I guarantee there is someone that can help in one way or another, be it the counselling team at the University, the Student’s Union Advice Centre or contacting an external company like the Samaritans, you don't need to face any challenges alone.
-Tash Neal, Psychology and Criminology 2020 Graduate.