Third time’s a charm: why I’m starting uni again (and again)

I’ve not changed my course or moved uni either

anxiety liverpool university

I am on my third attempt at first year, on the same course, at the same university. I’ve seen the introductory lecture so many times I feel like I could deliver it myself. Am I just really thick? Well, maybe. But that’s not the reason why it’s taking me so long. I have General Anxiety Disorder.

I’ve suffered with it since I was twelve, but it peaked really badly at uni. People say uni is supposed to be the best experience of your life: no parents, no responsibilities, crawling to your lecture in your pyjamas and spending the duration concentrating on not projectile vomiting on the row in front of you. But for me, it was a totally different experience.

My biggest mistake was moving into halls. Trying to juggle making friends, studying, anxiety and living away from home for the first time all became too much. I couldn’t sleep and began to miss lectures and tutorials, hiding away from the world in my room in Vine Court.

I didn’t want to tell people; afraid they’d judge me and not want to associate themselves with me. So I masked it, pretending I was fine. Despite being offered help from the uni, I felt undeserving and embarrassed to take it. By ignoring how I felt, I hoped it would just go away, and hastily signed a contract to live on a house on Smithdown for the next year.

Inevitably, the same thing happened again. Like déjà vu, I began to feel the familiar feelings of paranoia and nausea. I strived for perfection and set myself unrealistic goals. I would have panic attacks in the library and to the confusion of my friends, have to make a sharp exit and retreat to my bedroom. So for the second time, I dropped out.

Feeling like a complete failure, I got a job in a pub, and had a brief stint as the world’s worst bar maid. But like an ex that you just can’t get over, uni was always in the back of my mind. Proudly, I watched my friends graduate, wishing more than anything that I was there with them.

My quarter life crisis was in full force as I battled with a Fosters tap and the desire to return to uni. I knew if I didn’t return, I’d never forgive myself. So feeling like Spongebob returning to driving school after yet another failed test, I reapplied, and thankfully they gave me another place.

This time, I’m determined. I’m utilising the help the uni have offered, and most importantly, I’m learning to deal with my anxieties on a day to day basis. There are good days and bad, and it never goes away – but I’m coping. Anxiety is not something to be ashamed of; it does not make you a lesser person.

Tutors are understanding and willing to help if you explain how you’re feeling, see a professional if things are getting out of hand as the uni does have a counselling service.  Tell your family and close friends – whilst they may not understand how you feel if they haven’t experienced it themselves, true friends will support you. Medication is not a quick fix, but it does help to keep symptoms at bay.

Remember, if you mess things up the first time, it’s not the end of the world.