I originally studied my chosen degree course of History and Politics at the University of Sheffield in 2010. I arrived just-turned 18, looking incredibly young and, although I wasn’t aware of it yet, suffering from General Anxiety Disorder.
Over the course of my two and a half years there my mental health deteriorated considerably. I gradually stopped socialising as much and developed a belief that any work that I could produce was bound to be sub-standard and unworthy of the institution. I found seminars partially traumatising. The process of having to express any opinion in a tight knit group felt like an overwhelming pressure. The less I felt I could voice my opinion the more these beliefs were reinforced.
All the academics I encountered were sympathetic and helped me manage any issues I had with the study. However, no one I came into contact with had an awareness of my issues with anxiety. At that point my thought patterns were so entrenched it was difficult to acknowledge I had a problem or even know how to go about seeking help. This all reached a peak at the start of my third year and I dropped out. By that point I was unable to control my symptoms and had lost any sense of direction in my life.
I took a substantial amount of time out and eventually found it within myself to seek treatment. I also took on a part-time job working in a cafe which kept me busy, gave me some much needed money and helped to build back up my social confidence. But the best decision I made was to resume my studies! I was unsure at first of how to best go about this but finding the Open University offered me a pretty unique path. It was important to me to be able to maintain my work, my volunteering job and hobbies, as by that time I had acquired my own allotment. Also, I was able to transfer my previous study credit which gave value back to my previous studies and shortened my path towards achieving a History and Politics degree. It gave me back some power to work towards gaining a more fulfilling career and to complete something I felt that I had left unfinished.
To be able to study part-time has allowed me the extra room to delve deeper into my studies and rediscover my passion for the subject matter that I had lost at the end of my studies with the University of Sheffield. Also, receiving feedback from my tutors regarding my coursework has helped to rebuild my academic confidence. My course this year on Empire from 1492-1975 covers an area I’ve long wanted to know more about: the British Empire and how it affected the countries it occupied.
I am now towards the end of my degree course and looking forward to graduating. I am grateful to have found a platform that reintroduced me to studying and allowed me pursue a wide range of careers. So thank you Open University!