You’re not yourself today, what’s wrong?
David 24, University Student from Darlington
How are you?
The best I’ve been in a long time. I’m beginning to understand who I am a bit more now. My second year at Uni was very difficult for me and last year was an eye opener, I did a study abroad scheme - it was daunting but amazing. I’m happy where I’m at.
I’ve learned to be a bit more selfish and am starting to understand what’s going to impact me the best. If a situation is going to cause my mental health to deteriorate I’ll walk away now. I’m learning not to over think. I’m trying to stop looking too much into things and their long term consequences. I used to get so caught up in stuff, now I realise it’s all so insignificant.
As a kid I was always nervous. I’d always over think. I’ve got better as I’ve got older. I’d get caught up in my own head. Everything’s reversible. Everything’s manageable. A while ago I watched a documentary about people who commit suicide off the Golden Bridge in San Fransisco. The two only survivors both said as soon as their hands left the rails they realised - everything is reversible!
Mental health is an epidemic and University life doesn't help. They say there are structures in place to help but it’s all a front, the services aren’t really there.
A couple of years ago I started seeing someone who was in a relationship with someone else - it wasn’t good. I thought the feeling was mutual but she was never going to leave her fella. I became fixated with her and couldn’t get out of it. It wasn’t a nice place to be. My mental health wasn’t good at the time and I knew this situation was going to make it worse but I carried on, constantly telling myself ‘I’m not good enough’. It was a kind of self harm. I felt I had to see it through. I new it was going to end disastrously. I went away and started a fresh that was the best thing that could have happened. But the thought of coming back to University even though she wasn’t going to be there still gave me anxiety. I’m very good at attaching my anxieties to specific days, circumstances and situations.
How do you see yourself?
I am trying to enjoy the small things. One day I picked up my brothers guitar and started strumming - I love it. I can only do the basics but it relaxes me. I can do it for hours. I don’t have any ambition to get good at it. I just like playing the chords and playing them in different sequences. In everything else that I do I’m always striving to be better but with the guitar I’m not. I feel so much more relaxed. I do Thai boxing too. I am the least aggressive person I know. I don't pretend to be some macho man - but I love it. I love the cultural side of it too. It’s a good energy boost and I’m really motivated to do it. I am rubbish at it but I don't care. I’ve been doing it for 3 -4 years now and I have no interest in being the best of the best, I just enjoy it.
I’m motivated. I’m a bit of a hippy in my head. I like to think a lot about different things and ask a lot of questions of which I know there are no answers. I know I can come across as bland, a bit vanilla. I have come from probably one of the whitest of backgrounds but I’m so interested in different cultures. I feel I will never stop exploring and asking questions. I enjoy finding out and trying new things.
The education system is horrible. I can be a complete stress head. Everything has been structured to get good GCSES and A’ levels. I had to max out on everything. The thing is no ones going to look at all this stuff once I get a job. I know it’s valuable - but as soon as you get to the next step it seems pointless - and they wonder whey everyone has mental health and anxiety issues. I have lost the passion for my Uni work, initially I wanted to make a lot of money but the second I got to Uni I have realised I’m not money oriented at all and I want to do is something that makes me happy.
I am the first generation in my family to go to Uni. It was never forced on me and there was a lot of confusion as to why I would want to go when I could have done an apprenticeship and earned some money straight away. But it has made me grow as a person - you meet lots of different people. I am really looking forward to getting a job now and working.
How do you think other people see you?
I’ve always been very conscious of how other people saw me. I still have lingering feelings in my head that I’m a very boring person. It’s come from what a few people said at school. I think I’ve linked me be anxious with me being told I’m boring. I put on a personae to be a bit more extrovert but I’m not really like that. I just wanted to fit in.
Since Uni I’m much better. I care less what other people think of me. Sometimes people will comment - ‘You’re not yourself today, what’s wrong?’. There’s nothing wrong, I just don’t feel like performing today!
More recently people see me as a smiling, positive person that doesn't take themselves too seriously. I have a very high threshold for saying things without getting awkward and other people feel awkward on my behalf. (laughing) I definitely don’t fit the lad mould. I don’t want to talk football and macho things. I probably come across as very awkward but I’m fine with that.
What do you like about yourself?
I like that I have grown and developed into someone who isn’t as worried about what other people think. I’m quite proud of that and I want that to continue. I like me most of the time. I like that I am trying to better myself and I cant see myself ever stopping. One of the biggest things I’m proud of is how family oriented I am. I value my family, I am a bit mushy - people say I’m a bit of a mummy’s boy. One of my best friends is my brother. It frustrates me when people don't respect their families or acknowledge how important they are. My family has been and are, very important. I like to think I maintain my friendships very well. I can spread myself a bit too thin sometimes. I can feel quite guilty at times but I have to accept that’s what happens.
What are your dreams, what makes you tick?
I never want to stop travelling and exploring. Staying in one place for a long time scares me. I like the idea of going to different places and experiencing different cultures and I mean, really different cultures. I want to understand them and learn as much as I can. I want to become fluent in another language.
One day I would like a nice happy house with family, kids and to be a good role model. I don’t want to take life too seriously. I never want to be one of those parents where their kid is a “project”. I want to raise them with the same morals and values that I was taught.
What do you think about life?
I feel we are doing the wrong thing a lot of the time. It’s so hard to put things into perspective. Education and jobs are important, these things get you through life but people lose sight of what’s actually important. I never want to get passed working 40 hours a week. I value my friends and family much more - I’d rather do less. A lot of people I’ve met say they didn't see their mum and dad whilst they were growing up because they were always at work. I don’t want to be like that.
What brings you down?
Surprisingly small things - a couple of people said I was boring, a couple of people told me I had yellow teeth - I was so self conscious. I hadn’t even thought about it until someone pointed it out. Things stick.
What would you like to leave for the next generation?
It’s quite scary really. It’s not just the environment and the weather, what about the plastic? The impact it’s having isn’t being acknowledged. By the time I’m 80 what will the world look like? The ocean is already covered in plastic. I want us to look after our planet more. It’s ridiculous, I work in a bar - they’ve banned plastic straws but after 12am they only use single use plastic cups for ease. So in one breath they seem to be doing the right thing but in actual fact, it’s just playing lip service to the latest trend.
I’d like for the next generation to be opened minded and questions things. To stand up for what they believe and not to be judged for it.
What have you taken from today?
I’ve really enjoyed it. I was wondering if I should have prepared my answers. I genuinely thought I had nothing to talk about. A lot of time there’s some guilt when I’m talking about stuff but if that’s how I feel then that’s how I feel.