Mental Health Stories

The Pathway Out of Darkness: Forgetting the Past and Living For The Present

There will be a time in everyone's life where you'll be faced with a stressful situation...but how do you deal with that situation?

There will be a time in everyone’s life where you’ll be faced with a stressful situation whether it be A-levels, university exams, the future, a tiff with someone close to you, relationship drama.

Whatever it is when faced with that situation you will mentally meet a crossroad with the dilemma of either facing the problem and dealing with it in a calm and rational view or letting the darkness and stress consume you, so much so that you embody a person unrecognisable to your friends and family; the darkness engulfs you and affects every aspect of your life from eating to sleeping to studying to even your relationships.

Of course, the stressful situations you face may not even be that the severe but the tools to deal with them will be the same.

It’s safe to say I have had my fair share of stressful situations that have left me feeling empty, alone, depressed and worthless.

During my second-year university exams, I struggled. I was living so much in the Past and constantly reminding myself of how I had failed when I was 18, with a degree I didn’t want to do and I university I had never imagined I would be studying at, and all I could think about was failing again. I was left in the library ruminating and overthinking everything which resulted in tears, panic attacks and complete isolation.

I was physically well but I felt weak, I wasn’t sleeping and I felt my body completely shutting down. I became desperate and fixated on the grade I needed to achieve which in turn put more pressure on myself as I had now set a bar that if I didn’t achieve I would be classed as a failure.

I became stuck in a cycle of complete anxiety and stress.

There was no way I was sitting my exams and my health was way too important to me so
for once I put myself first and postponed my exams.

I took 8 weeks to recuperate. It was not easy at all and there are chances I can relapse at any moment but here are the tools I used that helped me, so much so when I came to sit my exams again I was not stressed and achieved a really amazing grade.

Firstly I had to learn to do my very best, not set myself a grade I needed to achieve or think about the grade at all just my best. That way the pressure was automatically taken off me and to some extent I could enjoy sitting the exam and commend myself no matter what the result was.

Secondly, focus on my breathe. We all live such busy lives and I bet none of really have the time to listen to the sound of our breath or even breathe properly. It took me a long time but when I learnt how to breathe properly from watching Dr Rampes’ YouTube tutorials on three-minute breathing exercises and just sat there only focusing on where my breathing was going and how my diaphragm was moving it automatically slowed everything down for me and everything seemed more manageable.

Thirdly, I learnt to live in the present and did an 8-week course in Mindfulness. This was incredible for me not only did it teach me to let go of every mistake, failure, grudge and anger I had ever felt but taught me there’s no such thing as failure and everything happens for a reason.

I learnt to live for the present, to embrace every day as it came and to focus on being positive. It was really hard. I would lay there for 45 minutes at a time doing a body scan or mountain meditation and wondering whether I was doing it right, but as science teaches whatever you do every day will get stronger. Essentially by doing 50 minutes a day for 8 weeks I was moulding my brain and changing its plasticity and moulding my whole mentality and outlook on life.

Lastly, I slept. We don’t realise how important a regular sleep pattern means for our body. Just like we should have feed our bodies at certain times of the day we should also have a regimented and disciplined sleep regime. I know it’s hard at university to keep to this but it’s crucial. Not only does sleep help with memory consolidation but also provides our body with time to rest and also helps with maintaining our immune system and making sure we are healthy.

I found when I was studying for my exams when I had anxiety I would sleep but still feel tired, whereas when I closed my books at 7pm and chilled for an hour and did meditation before I went to bed I would have a great nights sleep.

My final advice would be to listen to your body┬áif it needs a break there is nothing you can do to resist that. Staying hydrated, eating healthily and taking time to relax is crucial to being successful no matter what you are doing. Nothing is more important than your health without that you won’t be anyone, so take care of yourself and the rest will fall in to place.

– Anonymous

Liked this? Take a look at these:

Fast Track: The Decision

Masculinity, Vulnerability and Mental Health

Depression: One Man, One Stigma

The Enemy I Fight Everyday

[Social] Anxiety, Depression and Self-Harm: My Mental Health Story


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