“My mental health is really struggling right now. I thought it would get better when I moved out for uni. My family don’t accept me for who I am or who I love and I thought being away from it all would be so much easier but in a way it’s almost like I’m missing it? I feel so lonely and I miss all the noise albeit from shouting and arguments. I know I need help and I want to get help but I have no idea where to start. I’m scared that even the person I ask for help won’t accept me as that’s basically been drilled into me since such a young age.”
Hello Bailey – thank you for writing such a genuine and vulnerable message. Starting uni is hard for everyone for a variety of specific reasons, and it sounds like you have a lot on your plate.
You’re facing a huge challenge in moving away from home and leaving your comfort zone behind. Even when our home environment is filled with conflict and makes us feel unwelcome, for a lot of us, it is still home, and what we’re accustomed to. You’re not alone in having confusing feelings about missing it all. I think one of the biggest processes of going to Uni is realising which things you love about home, and which things you don’t want to take with you into your own space. It is your chance to re-evaluate the things you took for granted and had no control over, and it can be just as exciting and freeing as it is intimidating.
Though you miss the noise, I’d encourage you to take some time to embrace the new quiet you’ve found at University. Uni can be a noisy place in itself, and this could be a chance for you to take time – proper time – to be alone. Like you say, loneliness is a big factor of your distress at the moment, but this is probably made more negative because you’re not used to being alone. Once you’re comfortable with it, being alone is great. You can do what you want, go where you want, and wear what you want, without having to worry about anyone else’s needs or anxieties. Try to actively spend time with yourself, doing things you enjoy. Take yourself on a date to the Sainsbury Centre, or go for a wander through town. You might find that being alone and loneliness are not the same thing.
In terms of where to start with getting help, the best thing you can do is keep an open mind and try a few different things. It might seem terrifying to open yourself up, especially as you’ve come to expect nothing but rejection, but it’s the only way you’ll be able to prove to yourself that you will be accepted. Your parents’ attitudes towards you are not representative of everyone’s attitudes towards you.
One avenue I would highly recommend you explore is UEA’s LGBTQ+ Society, Pride. Membership is totally free, and they run a number of different social activities (including sober ones)! Pride would be a great place for you to not only meet people at Uni with similar interests and passions, but also meet other queer people who will understand your journey all the better. You can also make use of UEA’s Support network, which can be found via the uea.su website. Student Minds is also a fantastic resource, with loads of support options that you can explore at studentminds.org.uk.
While it might currently feel like you’re lost between home and Uni, I promise you that you’ll settle in and find your place soon. These periods of transition, while scary at the time, are usually the life phases in which we learn and grow the most – try and use this as an opportunity to nurture the best version of yourself.