I'm at uni now (Formerly "I'm going to be at uni this time next month")

Discussion in 'General Advice' started by BlackholeKG, Aug 25, 2016.

  1. BlackholeKG

    BlackholeKG I saw you making fire

    And, honestly, I'm a little concerned that I'm going to mess this up.

    I really want to enjoy university, and I am doing a course that I really am genuinely interested in. Given that in the past I've generally been good at my studies it should be no problem, right?

    The thing is, I'm concerned. I didn't do well during my last year at at school. I went from getting straight A*s to a situation last year where I scored a D in further maths (largely due to an incident in one of my final exams where my brain hung and I only managed to put down a single answer), and although I didn't do particularly badly in my other exams I definitely under performed in a manner that I think reflected increasing struggles with managing learning and academia.

    I don't know, for most of that last year my brain felt sluggish, I was tired all the time, I couldn't focus on my work, take in information properly, and struggled to read long passages of text. Those are not problems that have gone away during my gap year. I don't know what combination of brainweirds are responsible, or, heck, if it's just that I wasn't getting enough sleep and subsequently fucked up my entire life and mental capability (my parents did always warn me :/), but the fact is, I'm very concerned that as soon as I get back into a learning environment, even studying something I enjoy, I will have these same problems and find myself unable to perform.

    I am going to try and get help for some of my more visible brainweirds at uni, but even those won't be solved anything close to right away, and I can't help but shake the feeling that the concentration stuff might at least partially be something beyond my depression, and maybe link in with whatever causes my visual snow, tinnitus, and minor hearing issues (a strange problem where I find it hard to understand people's voices when there is background noise these days).

    Also, if I do end up having a hard time then these issues might feed back into each other and do stuff like make my low moods worse which of course I really don't want and might causes issues to self-perpetuate... school stress did a number on be before so :/

    I don't want to fuck up uni and I want to do well enjoy myself and not be stressed but knowing myself/my brain... ..

    So yeah I'm not sure what to do about any of this but I am concerned. Any advice?
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2016
  2. budgie

    budgie not actually a bird

    Try and see if your uni has a student accessibility center or something similar. If you can get a doctor's note confirming that you've got problems with x/y/z learning-related functions (like having a hard time understanding voices) they should be able to help. At the start of term I'd give all my profs a letter from the office saying that I was registered with them, and would the professor ensure that notes/slides were posted online, give me extensions for overdue work, and allow me to make up missed tests/labwork. Your teachers don't need to know the details, if you're uncomfortable sharing them, but because it's disability-related it becomes a human rights issue if they're denying you said assistance.
  3. BlackholeKG

    BlackholeKG I saw you making fire

    I think the general wisdom in the past has been that that my problems don't really hit the threshold mark to be considered real hindering disability issues. The speech parsing thing doesn't tend to affect my being able to hear teachers, and most often only comes up in social settings where we're out in public or whatever. Likewise depression-type stuff never actively prevents me learning in a manner that would show up for other people seeing if I was fit or w/e. I'm mostly talking about stuff that just makes things require more effort from my perspective, but which will be judged as being non-issues so long as I do put in that effort. Unfortunately I am not a wellspring of drive so what end up happening is I under perform and/or have an unpleasant time.

    And I know technically I could probably get some of that stuff or w/e but to be honest I can only see it being a daunting process of lobbying professionals and getting frustrated by roadblocks, generally the setup seems to be geared to dissuade one from trying to do that so realistically I'm unlikely to be pushing very hard for any of it tbh

    Plus I don't want to be seen as making stuff up or taking advantage by others or myself.

    idk maybe I'm being obtuse here, you're probably right maybe but it doesn't feel like a thing I should be doing, it's something I've never done, and, honestly, I would be surprised if I ended up doing it. Plus I already put down on my enrollment that I had no "disability" issues (which by the way I don't think I'm "disabled" really it feels like far too strong a word for me) and so they might hold me by that idk
  4. budgie

    budgie not actually a bird

    I'll be honest, I felt similarly. The way the accessibilities lady put it, her job was to make it easier for me to be able to access the things I needed to perform well in school.

    I had a really bad and erratic sleep schedule when I was still figuring out my depression meds, so she made it so that I never had to write exams in the morning. I could have written them in the morning, but I was underperforming when I did. I didn't think that counted as a 'real' problem, because I should just be able to make myself sleep, but she said if writing at a different time of day was going to make a difference it was really nbd to schedule me to write at a different time. So I wrote my exams in a room full of other people who weren't writing with their class for whatever reason, and no one ever commented on it.

    Also, I'd be surprised if you were the only one in your classes asking for accommodations, especially accommodations like notes being posted online and consideration for missed classes. You won't be inconveniencing your professors, because these are things they'll already be doing.
  5. applechime

    applechime "well, you know, a very — a very crunchy person."

    first of all congrats on uni, lady!! :toot:second, i don't know how accommodations work in UK schools, but i would STRONGLY suggest getting accommodations sorted out IMMEDIATELY. like way before you actually show up.

    you don't need to be "disabled enough" for accommodations, and you won't be taking resources away from people who you might think need it more. use the system. it exists to help you. if you need help parsing verbal things, bring it up. get a note taker. if your OCD interferes with your ability to meet deadlines, bring that up. if you do better in quiet environments, DEFINITELY bring it up. talk to your therapist or psych!! get them to write a letter for you, detailing your difficulties.

    get to know your profs. make sure they know who you are. profs absolutely go easier on their favourites and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying. if the class is massive (100+ students) this is less useful, but still worth trying.

    be in REGULAR CONTACT with a doctor!! make appointments ahead of time, so if you start slipping into a really bad mental place you get help sooner rather than later. practice self care. watch your sleeping and eating habits. try to avoid getting too into first-year uni culture. make time for social things!! isolation will fuck you up.

    i had to withdraw from my second year after i went into a suicidal depressive anxiety spiral. this is the shit that kept me afloat in the meantime, and also the shit i wish i had done.
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2016
  6. BlackholeKG

    BlackholeKG I saw you making fire

    Yeah I'm somewhat behind with a lot of this.

    I have no therapist or psych, I've never been diagnosed with any mental condition, or any other sort of condition for that matter. I don't know who my doctor would be when I'm at uni because I've always gone to the local GP where I live. I certainly don't have any proof that I have any sort of issues beyond my own word on the matter.

    Tbh I don't even know if I actually have full ocd. If I'm honest with you I probably don't even if I sometimes display some associated traits/effects.

    Also I'm not sure about the first year uni culture, would that not be an important part of keeping social?

    If I already had the whole setup of professionals and diagnoses and accommodations and such that I know a lot of people here have then I wouldn't really be too concerned really, but. I'm in a sort of double bind where my "issues" such as they are aren't really severe enough for that same sort of consideration, and even if you thought they are then, well, I don't have that anyway, so.
  7. applechime

    applechime "well, you know, a very — a very crunchy person."

    when you get a whole bunch of young adults experiencing independence and lack of supervision for the first time all gathered in one place, there tends to be a culture of excess. drinking to excess every night, normalizing each other's impulsive and dangerous behaviour, reinforcing each other's shitty, unhealthy habits. stuff like that.

    better to join clubs and societies and make friends that way than get caught up in the other shit.
  8. BlackholeKG

    BlackholeKG I saw you making fire

    I'll be honest with you guys now the whole idea of asking for accommodations, regarding myself as being "disabled" in any sense for conditions that I may very well not have and certainly don't affect me chronically, it makes me, very, veeeeery uncomfortable. My stuff doesn't affect me that bad, I feel like people over overestimating - like, it's nothing beyond or in excess of the stuff I mentioned in the OP, which is pretty much, just personal-level effects?
  9. BlackholeKG

    BlackholeKG I saw you making fire

    Okay, I'm... not going to say that I'm not going to at least take part in some of the youth™ activities because I generally seem to enjoy that.

    I will definitely be looking into clubs and societies as well though. I'm just concerned that I might end up too nervous to fully jump into them. You know, especially the more defying-social-norms type ones that I actually want to join. Like the LGBT group. And also apparently there's a kink and fetish society? Both of which I actually really want to go be a part of but knowing me I will fully chicken out because it would mark me out as different in some way so I will probably just not do it and hate myself for it afterwards for the entirety of my stay.
  10. BlackholeKG

    BlackholeKG I saw you making fire

    Yeah, I'm pretty much going to fuck this up for myself by not doing the necessary/desirable things, aren't I
  11. applechime

    applechime "well, you know, a very — a very crunchy person."

    look online to see if your uni has a health centre on campus! there will probably be doctors available there.
    i'm not necessarily 'disabled' either, but i have difficulties. i absolutely benefited from accommodations. if you think you might benefit at all from ANY of the accommodations offered, you should at the very least talk to someone in the department about how to get access to them. you lose nothing by trying.

    try and stop looking at it like you need to be this amount of disabled to ride. you've got brainweird and that's all that matters.
    • Like x 1
  12. Mala

    Mala Well-Known Member

    Ok, take it from someone who's been there, had the whole "academically brilliant, struggled last year of hs and lost the ability to concentrate" and fucked it all up. ABSOLUTELY GO THROUGH THE DISABILITY PROCESS AND SEEK OUT HELP. Yes, even if you think "it's not that bad"

    A: if you do in fact have a disability, you've likely accepted it as normal "everyone feels this way!" and possibly don't recognize that no this isn't normal. This was me.
    B: you're at the age where some disorders start appearing or start getting worse. This also happened to me.
    C: the people at your school are expecting even the perfectly healthy first years to struggle some and need help. They have all these resources for a reason, you just have to ask

    At the very least if there's any counseling service, get in touch with them and set up some appointments. They can help you determine what you need and help you navigate the system

    I didn't consider myself disabled either but I failed a lot of classes because it turns out I did have problems and they were in fact Real Problems that Needed Help TM. Don't be like me, it wasn't fun, I ended up mildly suicidal and I'm still recovering academically

    Just copy and paste this bit here into an email to a counselor or person in the disabilities office. It's a great summary of what you're concerned about and I garuntee they've helped dozens of students describing the same thing
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2016
    • Like x 1
  13. IndigoRiffRaff


    idk how UK stuff works but I am assuming that tutors are fairly accessible (they are in the US). Like, at my university there's drop-in writing and math tutoring and tutors in other subjects available by appointment, and the tutors are all students (and sometimes the tutors need tutored too, there is zero shame in going to a tutor). So yeah if there's tutoring services available definitely take advantage of that, even if you just want someone to look over a paper with before turning it in or to review a few things before an exam or to make sure you used the right method to solve an equation or whatever. Also see if there's student lounge things for students of various subjects - for example, here there's a biology student room thing with computers and chairs and stuff and a chemistry one that's the same way and a lot of times if there's homework due soon there's other students working on it who can help you out. (that's how I survived chem last year)
  14. Lib

    Lib Well-Known Member

    I have just graduated from a UK university so here are Things I Did Which Helped and/or Things I Should Have Done Which Would Have Helped. (I think I might remember what university you're going to - if I'm correct, I had a friend who went there, and could ask them if they have university-specific recommendations for Navigating While Brainbugs.)

    - definitely get registered with your university disability centre straight away. Mine had drop-ins for the first few weeks of term, where you could show up, talk with an advisor, and find out what you need to do and what would be helpful for you.

    - in your case, one of the things that they will probably do is recommend a local GP or refer you to a local psych so that you can get documentation. Do follow through with this - you are having problems, they are real, and you want documentation now so that if you can't get out of bed for months or you can't concentrate enough to do any of your work or whatever crisis might happen, you don't have to worry about getting it documented then. I can't stress this enough - I didn't get my joint pain documented before I was in too much pain to get to class, nevermind getting to a doctor, and so my department overwhelmingly thought I was faking it. Get your shit documented in advance so that when you have a crisis, you can email the disability centre and tell them 'hey I am now having a major problem for the reasons I gave you paperwork for, help.'

    - the advisors in university disability centres are often really lovely. listen to them when they suggest accommodations - they have a lot of experience in gauging the right accommodations for the right people, and even if you think 'wow that can't be helpful', it probably will be. (And if you think 'well everyone wants that but I'm too lazy to deserve it'? Not everyone wants it. You want it because you have an issue; because you normalise that in your head, you assume everyone wants it. That is usually a sign of 'no, this is a real issue you are having'.)

    - the university counselling is often shite. It can't hurt to try, especially if you're struggling with NHS waiting lists, but a lot of the time it's very much geared towards otherwise neurotypical students who are homesick or struggling with working independently or whatever. So, if you go and it sucks, that doesn't mean you don't have a problem. It just means that they have a very specific remit, and outside of that remit they often just kinda shrug.

    - not getting enough sleep has to be really, really intense to fuck you up more than very temporarily. you would have noticed had it gotten that bad. you have actual issues. (sleep problems are also an actual issue, btw, but I have less Official Disability Services Advice on that.)

    - just to point out, the gap between GCSEs and A-levels is a lot, and straight A*s at A-level are really not expected the way straight A*s at GCSE are. I know grade requirement inflation is bullshit, but it's still a distinction I feel I should note.
    • Like x 2
  15. wixbloom

    wixbloom artcute

    I'm gonna weight in on this bit first: you have no control over how people see you. If you aren't making stuff up, and a bunch of randos still think you are, there's literally nothing you can do but shrug and continue on the process of not making stuff up. This sounds obvious but it's a really important thing to keep in mind if you have mental illnesses in college, it's a lifeline to preserve whatever sanity you may have at any given time, especially when things get hard. You don't control how others think, and if they're bigoted towards the mentally ill, or if they don't know you're mentally ill and think you're just a good for nothing lazy person, that's not your problem to solve.

    And regarding seeking accomodations... "disability" is a super heavy word, but anything that serves as accomodation and could help you do stuff better, more effectively and with less struggle is worth pursuing, regardless of labels. Plus "I don't think I'm really that disabled, it's not that bad" is a thought that I have heard echoed by pretty much everyone I know who is chronically disabled - as opposed to disabled by sudden trauma, which gives one a clear view of exactly what abilities they once had and don't anymore.

    That said, here's some stuff that has helped me and will continue to help me as I get my second (:3) college degree:
    • Ask for help, including help from your classmates. You don't need to divulge anything about your situations, you can just casually approach a classmate and go "hey, I'm not sure I really got the last chapter, what do you think about it, what does the author mean by [x thing]?" and this won't even be SEEN as asking for help, just as a normal college bonding experience! Suggest getting together with classmates for study sessions, for instance, and you can help keep one another focused as well as working stuff out as a team.
    • I second getting the professors to know you! And lemme tell you something from personal experience (and from what I've seen of the experience of another trans classmate), being trans helps in that department! My professors learned my name before anyone else's because I was The Transgender Student and my true name Should Be Respected. This is possibly the first time in my life in which I felt a distinct social benefit from being trans, and that may sound cynical, but reqally, we already get crapped on enough for our genders, we should at least enjoy it if something good does come out of the mess that is being trans in this world. So you already have a head start!
    • Have a notebook with you for thoughts and doodles, not just class notes. It can be a great sounding board for brainwrong, and writing a lot will make you seem like a super dedicated student even if the stuff you're writing is not related to the actual class.
    • The internet is your friend! More than once I've made posts on facebook like "Friends who are taking Sculpture on Friday night, what supplies were we supposed to bring next week again, I totally forgot".
    • Generally in college you can walk out of class at any time without excusing yourself. If stuff gets overwhelming, take a breather. If it gets really overwhelmy, take a long breather. Don't pressure yourself to return to class. One time, I got triggered in class and went for "a breather" that ended up lasting until the end of the lesson, at which point a classmate next to me took my bag and waited outside the classroom to give it back to me when I returned, which was super sweet of her.
    • It's OK to take a mental health day or two sometimes, as long as you keep track of what was done in the classes you skipped.
    • However, try to consider, also, whether the best thing for your mental health won't be to just show up to class, and have the sense of structure that it provides.
    • It's OK if you can't take notes or interact and you look like a hot mess and you just show up. Just be there, however you can. Some days it feels like just dragging myself to class makes me worthy of a medal. On those days I'm still a great student, even if I can't participate and I look super grumpy and my brain feels like mush and all I want is to go home.
    • If you do your best every day, even if your best is the aforementioned "just showing up", people can tell, and they won't think you're lazy or dumb.
    • EVERYONE IS STRUGGLING. You and your classmates are in this together. Mental illness in college is a common issue since the environment is very stressful. I say this because it's comforting to know that in any given classroom you are almost certainly not alone.

    And now!! This is gonna be weird and comes from lots of social observation as well as trial and error, but here's my little lighthearted guide to standing out positively to your professors, from among your peers, without becoming a social pariah in the process:
    • If possible, participate in class every day. Again; IF POSSIBLE. It's OK if you can't.
    • NEVER call your questions "dumb" even if they are. Acting humble is nice, but if you open with "this is probably a dumb question", many people will think "if you know that, why are you wasting our time asking it?". Command some respect regarding your intelligence even if secretly you aren't feeling it.
    • Generally, DON'T ask questions you already know the answer to because that usually sounds obnoxious, like you're just trying to impress. It tends to fall very flat.
    • Know where you're getting at with a question before you ask it. If your thoughts are still too new and raw, try organizing them a bit and formulating them (maybe even writing them down) because otherwise you end up with a weird rant that ends with a question mark and nobody even knows where you're getting at.
    • The thing I like to do the most regarding participation is to associate the knowledge presented in class with other stuff - for example, the other day in photography class we were discussing 19th century Spirit Photography and I mentioned the Cottingley Fairies Hoax, which was fun, interesting and relevant. Try to sound eager and lighthearted when you do this, like the things you're mentioning are genuinely interesting to you, otherwise you can come accross as that pompous kid who thinks they're great because they read Catcher In The Rye and quote it at any occasion. You know the type.
    • If someone interrupts you while you're asking a question - INCLUDING A PROFESSOR -, as calmly as you can, tell them "excuse me, I wasn't done speaking". Don't escalate, keep your cool and you'll be seen as a Classy Lady while the other person seems like an Interrupty Jerk.
    • If you interrupt someone, as soon as you notice say "oh my God, I'm so sorry, I totally interrupted you, please continue". If you do that before the other person calls you out, you'll be seen as a Classy Lady and there's even a chance that the other person, awed by your classiness, will just let you keep talking anyway.
    • DO NOT correct your classmates in front of their peers. Even if you know you're right. That's a fast way to get them to irrationally resent you. If they're your friend, talk to them privately once class is done. If they're not, take deep breaths, write in your notebook, shrug, gloqat internally that You Know Better and let them make fools of themselves without you.
    • If you really feel that you must correct them, try doing so in question form, i.e. "I might be wrong, but I had the feeling that [thing] was [one way] instead of [the way you said it was]?". You will be seen as a Classy and Super Smart Lady.
    • Outside of class, if your classmates point out your smarts or classyness or other relevant skills, reply with an "aw shucks" and a thank you. Take compliments graciously!
    • Generally, be as polite as you can to both professors and peers.
    • For all your efforts, some professors will still ignore you, and some students will still think of you in a negative light. Sometimes that will be fair and sometimes not. In either case, it's not your fault. You're not perfect and you don't have to be. You'll have days in which you're really not up to performing socially, days in which you can't speak up or days in which you're short-tempered, and that's OK. It's impossible to be universally pleasing, and you shouldn't aim to do that anyway.
    • These suggestions are just to help, not to give you more anxiety if you can't meet them. In genuine seebs style, they are guidelines, not rules.
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2016
    • Like x 4
  16. applechime

    applechime "well, you know, a very — a very crunchy person."

    seconding basically everything wix just said. also, from my own experience in endearing myself to profs without ostracizing myself from my peers:

    - talk to them. not when they're swamped by other Eager Students, and not just for the sake of Talking To The Prof. if you have a genuine question or comment for your prof, go to class a few minutes early or linger a few minutes late and get them one on one!!

    - get to know their personalities. know who you should joke with, who you should be Formal and Respectful with, who you can have a casual conversation with.

    - listen it's SO IMPORTANT to have a good relationship with your profs. it's not just being a good student, it's a social thing. if a prof likes you, is aware of your difficulties, and believes that you're doing your best, it makes your life a LOT easier. plus it's nice to have an expert in your field of interest to talk to!!
    this is an extreme example, BUT: i had a FANTASTIC relationship with my English prof in first year; it was a double-semester course so i had a lot of time to build up a relationship with her. by the second semester, i was the only student in the class of 30 or so whose name she never needed to double-check; i'd go to her office and discuss my papers with her; we had tea a couple times. when i went into my downward spiral at the end of second semester and utterly failed to write my most important paper, worth like 30% of my entire grade, i emailed her in a panic a week after the deadline and spilled my guts to her. and she said to me: "I know you. I know the quality of your work. I don't need to see this paper to know how well you would have done on it." and she wished me well, removed the paper from my grades, and I got an A.

    which is not to say that this is an average experience!!! i got really lucky with her. but something to keep in mind.

    - don't do that thing where you're trying super hard to impress them because they see it all the time and they know what you're doing and so does everyone else

    - sit in the same spot every class. i personally found the best spot was a couple rows from the front. never the back!! being in the same spot and speaking up regularly makes you recognizable. also you'll probably make friends with your unofficial seatmate, which is always a good thing.

    - email your prof with questions, requests for clarification, or if you know for a fact you're not going to be able to attend a class. explain your circumstances. ask what material you need to go over, what things you need to have prepared for the next class, ask if you can pick up any stuff you missed during their office hours -- make it clear you didn't want to miss the class and that you intend to keep up with the workload. also helps in that frequent communication and office visits make you stand out. thank them for being accommodating!

    - i'm just kind of rambling now honestly, but being friendly with your prof is bomb and sometimes you actually become For Real Friends, which is awesome.

    Edit: also yes as wix said these are just Personal Experiences and your experience will of course not be the exact same as mine!! strictly suggestions and anecdata :)
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2016
    • Like x 2
  17. Emma

    Emma Your resident resident

    Agreed. Being in the back means (at least in my case) being much more easily distracted.
    • Like x 1
  18. Beldaran

    Beldaran 70% abuse and 30% ramen

    You don't know that your issues aren't "that bad" because you haven't actually been to a real mental health practitioner about them. In order to do well at university, and in order to fix other problems that seem to be happening in your life, you need to take care of your mental health asap.

    You don't want this to snowball into something big. I know it's scary going out and getting a diagnosis that feels like it'll change your life, but your brain chemistry has already done that. Getting treatment and an official label for it will only make it easier to deal with. No amount of saying "it's not that bad" will make any aspect of your life any easier, it's more likely to actively damage you.

    I really really hope that you get medical attention, for your sake, your family's sake, and your future's sake.
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2016
    • Like x 2
  19. BlackholeKG

    BlackholeKG I saw you making fire

    Yeah. I know. I mean, the process and prospect is kind of intimidating, and I'm not too sure how to go about it (especially given that I have no idea who my doctor will be in uni/how I get that all set up), but I will endeavour to find out and get the ball rolling as soon as I get there.
    • Like x 1
  20. Nertbugs

    Nertbugs Information Leafblower

    I ended up getting registered at my uni's disability centre in third year because I was burning out and needed greater and greater concessions over my dissertation. I treated it as a last resort because I thought I had everything under control and that I wouldn't qualify anyway. I pretty much just shuffled in and said 'help'. I was super intimidated too. But the adviser took one look at the problems I was having, checked my medical record, and immediately started laying out a plan with me about how to get things set up so that the dissertation would get done and handed in. It did a world of good, even though I felt weird about it to begin with, and I realised I should really have done it earlier.

    Worst they can say is that you don't qualify, and I bet even if they said that they'd have suggestions for more appropriate support.
    • Like x 1
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice