Eloise Jones (LLB (Hons) Bachelor of Law 2022) shares her experiences of juggling the burden of mental health issues and higher education, but how growing in strength and perseverance she has become a stronger person.
The once taboo conversation regarding an academic journey and obstacles with mental health is becoming a more open topic within our generation. I was grateful to share my experience at the launch of GradForce the other week, and although I don’t claim to know all the answers regarding mental perseverance, I hope to have at least inspired one person to reflect on their own journey with pride.
During my transition into Sixth Form, I suffered from severe mental health issues which affected my everyday studies. A feeling which many may relate to, panic attacks on the bus, lack of motivation to wake up and get ready, feeling so lonely and upset with yourself because you cannot understand why you are unable to function like everyone else.
It was recommended that due to my emotional distress it was best for me to leave education behind, despite my dream of entering the legal field. My parents said they’d rather have a “happy burger flipper, than a child in misery”. I am so lucky to have had their support, which helped me build the foundation to my road of recovery. Just before my final exam season began, I utilised all resources, work management plans, therapy, network support I could, and managed to complete my A-Levels against all odds.
Before my exams I was predicted AAB grades, and felt crushed when I fell short achieving BBD. But looking back I couldn’t have been more proud of myself that I carried on. I was honoured that my Sixth Form recognised my achievement and awarded me the Jack Petchey medal for mental perseverance. With the prize money I gained from this award, I decided to invest it back into mental health campaigns for my Sixth Form, in hopes other students who were suffering could seek help too.
Coming to Christ Church, I was worried about my mental health issues returning, which I have found out to be imposter syndrome. 82% of people have this little voice in their head telling you you’re not good enough for that job opportunity, you’re a fraud, you don’t deserve those grades and a good job. I have since learnt to tell that voice to be quiet, as you are everything you have achieved, and will become everything you set your entire body and mind towards. If I had continued listening to that voice, I would not have had the courage to pursue my dream law firm, who have since offered me a training contract to become a solicitor.
Mental perseverance is not reading a thousand textbooks, or trying to work faster and harder than your co-workers. In fact, I believe everyone needs to step back, and reflect on their own mental headspace. Understand how you operate, how you learn, work, relax, and most importantly, reward yourself. No two people are the same, and there is a massive struggle with individuals trying to fit into the same learning mould being told they are unsuitable and lazy when they could learn and work better in an alternative way.
Mental health conversations are as important as ever, but I believe there also needs to be more focus on neuro-divergency in the professional space. Since receiving support for my ADD diagnosis earlier this year, my life has changed by finally understanding how to work with my traits and not against them. My housemate is diagnosed with OCD, so naturally we work in two completely different routines, and we have learnt not to judge each other, like many have judged us throughout education. Turn your mindset into your superpower, you can bring a different perspective to your teamwork, whether with course mates or co-workers.
This might be my first experience of returning as alumni to share my story, but it definitely won’t be my last!