How I went from taking drugs, skipping lectures and failing first year to a first class degree
‘I just kept visualising getting my results and hugging my mum again and again’
In first year, Hamza used to only leave his halls for a night out. “I’d finally go to sleep at 8 or 9am and wake up at 6pm,” he says.
Then aged 19, Hamza was hiding his mental health struggles behind drink and drugs. He had arrived at Bristol after a gap year where he said he slipped into a cycle of long nights out and partying.
That only got worse when he joined university. “My brain started to deteriorate,” Hamza explains. “I had never really thought about mental health before. I couldn’t handle the anxiety, so I just took more drugs and drank more alcohol.”
“I was quite a confident guy but I developed the maddest social anxiety out of nowhere. It got to the point where I couldn’t even speak to my own family without feeling anxious.”
Hamza, who had earned a scholarship at Manchester Grammar School, wasn’t able to keep up with the academic work at uni. In his first year, he didn’t submit a piece of work and had zero per cent attendance at his lectures and seminars.
“My anxiety was going crazy and I felt so heartbroken. I barely spoke to my parents and I know my mum was really worried. I messed up her life for a few years.
“I failed my first year but couldn’t bring myself to tell my parents.”
After failing first year, Hamza reached out to the university wellbeing team. He described it as the “first time I had ever spoken about my mental health” and described the support as “what kept him going”.
Repeating his second year, Hamza was diagnosed with ADHD and credits the Wall Street Journal Bestseller, People are Doing the Uncommon by Joe Dispenza as a book which helped him see a new perspective.
Taking up meditation, Hamza describes finding purpose in trying to help others with their mental health struggles.
“We never learnt this stuff in schools but everyone should – and I want to help do that. In the same way that Marcus Rashford is for school dinners, I want be for mental health.”
In his final year at Bristol, Hamza joined TikTok, building a community of over 150,000 followers where he regularly shares mental health advice and coping mechanisms.
Alongside daily meditation and working out, he is a strong advocate for ice baths with two of his videos having been ranked as number one in the world of all ice bath content on TikTok.
Last month, aged 24, Hamza celebrated graduating with a first class degree in social policy with his friends and family.
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He says: “Getting that first from Bristol was the moment that topped everything. I knew how important it was to my mum after all I’d put her through. I had to work really hard; I just kept visualising getting my results and hugging my mum again and again.
“Our relationship is the best thing ever now. We are super close.”
Hamza is quick to stress however there is no quick one-stop solution to improving your mental health. “It was a year or two before I felt healed and it’s still a process now,” he says.
“You’ve got to keep on top of things.”
Featured image credit via University of Bristol and @humzyd.
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