In two days time I learn how many marks I’ve been given and the degree award that comes with, and I am shitting myself. The last five years of my life have been spent trying to get through my MSci Biochemistry and Biological Chemistry degree and now it’s finally at an end. Whilst I am grateful for the ending part, I know that my marks won’t be the 2,1 or (ha) first that most people deem acceptable.
Even now, I see Facebook posts raving about how much people loved uni, how well they’ve done and how they will miss it. I know I most definitely will not miss university because to me it’s been where a heck of a lot of shitty things with shitty people happened. Throughout my degree, I’ve felt lonely, depressed, abandoned and isolated. I never hear of other people disliking their university experience, so I’m going to put mine out there. Not for sympathy, just more because it feels good to voice it, I suppose.
It’s hard to put down all the feelings I have about my uni experience. Don’t get me wrong, I have met some wonderful people there, and I have had good times. Some friends from my course have been invaluable to me, and I loved helping to build up Blog Society in the past year, and university is where I met my best friend/partner/love-of-my-life Ross.
But it is also where everything happened that essentially made my depression so bad that I had to go onto medication, have therapy and leave uni to deal with it. And I know that I will forever associate the University of Nottingham with that. As results day looms, I can’t help but look back over my whole five years at university – at the truly toxic people I used to be so close with, at the times I struggled on with my depression while stubbornly ignoring how bad it was, at how I felt I didn’t fit in with the “culture” of university.
Since taking my anti-depressants, I have realised that they had been making my short-term memory really bad. While revising, it didn’t matter how long I spent trying to learn things, they just weren’t going in. Before I was on medication, I used to revise a week before an exam and get a 2,1. But in January, after a term of working the hardest I ever have for exams, I got a 58% (a 2,2) and a 33% (a fail). I just could not understand it, and it completely broke my confidence. I felt so stupid. I didn’t understand how I could have tried so hard, and done so much worse. But I had to make a choice – continue with the medication that make me less depressed or give them up to improve my memory. I stuck with the pills.
And so now I know, when I get those marks back in a couple of days time, I will feel awful. Those numbers won’t reflect the days and nights I spent trying desperately to get my foggy brain to remember my notes, nor will they show all of the years I have been struggling with my depression and they certainly won’t reflect my passion for science.
Ross, as usual, has been amazing. He keeps telling me that the results don’t matter, and that we will have a great life together regardless of these results. My mum has also been really understanding, saying that in a few years time I won’t think about them at all and that I’ve improved in myself so much this last year that returning to finish my masters is worth it just for that. But it is impossible not to feel like you’ve failed when we live in a world dictated to by numbers. So, where do I go from here? I’ve got all these feelings, and they’re making me feel kinda shitty.
Well, the plan is to get over it. I did uni, it wasn’t for me but I persevered and will, hopefully, at least have a degree, even if it is a third class one. I am feeling less depressed, have a great supportive family, a loving partner, and a job. I’m going travelling with Ross in September, and instead of worrying about numbers on a screen or lectures, I can see the world and actually enjoy my life and freedom.
Freedom. I can do whatever I want. I’m not tied to university, or to Nottingham. The only thing I have tying me to anything is my love of Ross, my family and my friends, and I know they’ll support and love me wherever I am and whatever I do. I’m going to use this freedom to enjoy life and I’m going to be the best at whatever I do. I’m going to keep focusing on my mental health and making sure I remain happy and healthy, and just LIVE.
This is the start of a new chapter.