Posted on Mon 20 Nov 2017 at 14:33 by Christopher Carter
Content Notice: Please be aware that this blog contains mentions of suicidal thoughts and self-injury.
Thursday 23rd November is our second Are You OK? day of Term 1, this time themed around Alcohol Awareness. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the Are You OK? campaign, it was created by last year’s Welfare Officer to encourage people to speak more openly and frequently about their mental health, and to always keep a dialogue going. In a survey conducted by the National Union of Students, 78% of respondents said they had experienced mental health issues in the last year, with depression and anxiety being the most commonly-reported conditions.
I was one of those students. Throughout my time at Warwick I’d experienced bouts of depression here and there, but they never lasted long - I was always able to pick myself up after a few weeks. That all changed in my third year. I was diagnosed with depression after experiencing severe low mood, suicidal thoughts, battling self-injury, and struggling to get out of bed (with a lot of crying in between) for several months. There reached a stage where I felt so tired and numb that I started drinking regularly as a way of coping: a pint of cider in the middle of the day, a gin and tonic after finishing work, an entire bottle of wine on an empty stomach on a Friday night to celebrate getting through the week. I only recognised that I needed to stop when I’d end up in floods of tears on the phone to my Dad telling him how rubbish everything was.
This period was undoubtedly the lowest point of my life, and it’s part of the reason I chose Alcohol Awareness as an Are You OK? theme day. It’s so easy for issues with alcohol to go unnoticed when you’re part of student culture - drinking to excess can often be seen as something that’s expected of you, and is often portrayed as a key part of the university experience. Yes, Circling and drinking with your friends, club or society can be incredibly fun, and may leave fond memories of your time here. However, drinking as a coping mechanism can be incredibly damaging and dangerous. Alcohol can make people lose their inhibitions and cause them to behave impulsively - this, combined with depression or anxiety, can be incredibly destructive and lead to actions such as self-injury and even suicide. As somebody who used alcohol as a coping mechanism, I urge you to reach out if you know anyone who is doing the same thing, if only to let them know that you care.
Luckily, I’m a stage now where I can consume alcohol and be okay, but my experiences will always be with me and I will do whatever I can to help those who are in a similar situation. Feel free to drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the drop-in session between 2-3pm this Thursday!
If you’re struggling, here are some links I recommend:
Find the full timetable for the Alcohol Awareness Are You OK? day HERE.