Monday 17th September 2018 – my first day at Glasgow Caledonian University, and hopefully the first of many days.
It was induction week, which I assumed meant a whole load of gatherings to learn a whole load of things that will most likely end up in a pile of overwhelming housekeeping, somewhere over there in the corner.
I was wrong!
This week has been nothing short of exciting, interesting and has left me feeling positive, proud and thirsty for the future.
I didn’t feel nervous until Sunday night and then Monday morning. Up until then, I felt what I can only describe as completely emotionless. And what with being free from anti-depressant medication for some weeks now, I was expecting more of an emotional build-up to what is going to be quite a large part of my life! But nope. Just a normal Sunday night, planning my social media for Ditch the Diet for the week and drinking cheap, highly processed hot chocolate powder.
Because I have recently experienced severe depression and Generalised Anxiety Disorder, sometimes I forget that even the most ‘normal’ person the world is likely going to feel anxious on their first day of uni. This is where I think perhaps my mind needs some work. When I am anxious, my first words to myself are that I’m weak and that I must pull my shit together before anyone notices, when in reality, what I’m experiencing is perfectly ‘normal’.
We have a Dietetics Facebook messenger group, which has been really helpful. Before we had even all met, we had been able to arrange to meet up before going to our first class. This lessened my anxiety a little bit, but it’s still challenging meeting new people!
My class has 25 people, 22 women and 3 men. We are from all over the place and of all different ages and backgrounds, so it has been really nice talking to and getting to know others. Some are married and have children, some are straight from high school and others have had early mid-life crises – like me! 🤣
Because the first year comprises of some bigger modules like Psychology and Human Physiology, we will have lectures and tutorials with members of other degree classes too. So next week when we have our first tutorials, I’ll likely meet even more new people.
We did quite a lot of official paperwork this week like applying for our Disclosure PVG, being measured for our NHS uniforms, fitness to practise stuff, learning about the library, about academic writing, referencing, the ICT system…
We’ve also been given all our lecture notes for next week to print off and prepare, information about joining the British Dietetic Association as Student Members, been assigned our personal tutors for the year and been prepared for what to expect when we go out on practise placements at the end of our second year.
I haven’t even had the chance to check out the student union yet!
I feel really positive about the whole thing and wholeheartedly know that I’ve made the right decision in starting this journey. I’m so excited when I read all the module outlines and what we are going to learn because not only is it going to enhance what I’m currently doing in my job and business, but it’s going to set me up for doing exactly what I want to do in the future. And I’m a proper geek – so I’m looking forward to all the reading and writing that’s involved, although I suspect that my writing style is going to need to be tweaked somewhat before I start handing in assignments!
Mental health wise, I won’t lie, this is going to be tough. I’ve realised this week that on days where we are in uni all day, I’m going to need to have at least 1-2 breathers on my own somewhere at some stage, to re-charge. Being around people constantly, in a really busy environment absolutely exhausts me, but I will build up my tolerance with this in the hope that in a few weeks/months, I’ll be able to cope a bit better.
I have access to a mental health nurse at uni and student wellbeing services too, if and when I need them, which is great. One thing I have really noticed about GCU is the support available. It seems that there is help for absolutely ANYTHING that you need, which is so reassuring.
On Tuesday next week, our official classes start. Monday is a holiday in Glasgow, which will be good I think, to have another 4 day week before the 5 day weeks begin. I know it might not seem like a lot for most people, but it has been a very long time since I’ve had to have such a structured routine after 7 years of self-employment!
It’s my intention to blog about how things are going, but I’m not promising anything. I’m sure that writing assignments might soon take over writing the blog but at least I will be writing in my journal most days, and will update here when I can…more so for my mental sanity than anything else!