Zoe - Going to University

Going to university. A big change. Lots of excitement, lots to look forward to, the start of a new adventure.

For everyone however, there are lots of questions and worries. Will I make good friends? Will I enjoy my course? Will I like the uni? What if I want to go home?

Moving away from home is a big step for anyone. You have to learn to manage your life from various different aspects; making sure you have a good balance between your degree, social life, as well as keeping on top of your cooking and washing!

For someone with OCD, there are other concerns and worries that can make the move even more uncertain and stressful.

I found myself thinking that I wouldn’t be able to cope with the move. I thought that managing my OCD would be too difficult in such an unknown environment. Having never actually visited my university, I had no idea what the place actually looked like let alone how I would cope. I was worried that moving away from home would result in more obsessions.

There are lots of steps that you can take to make moving to university slightly easier and hopefully this post can help to reduce some of the fears that you might be experiencing and encourage you to ask for help if you need it!

Speak to your university about your OCD.

Universities often have a student support centre. This is your one stop place to access all types of support, from help with your studies, careers advice, money advice and support for your mental health. Student support can help to put adjustments in place in order to make your studies easier and more enjoyable. Examples of these adjustments include extra time in exams, rest breaks, extensions on deadlines, increased library access and note takers. Student support is also able to provide counselling in order to help and this is specifically designed with students in mind.

I also have found it very helpful to speak to my tutor about some of my difficulties. This meant that I had someone in my school of the university looking out for me and he helped to make sure that I was able to complete my course to the best of my abilities.

I think it is really important to inform people about your OCD in order to put the best support in place.Zoe

I think it is really important to inform people about your OCD in order to put the best support in place. I was embarrassed about telling people, but everyone was understanding and just wanted to support me the best that they could.

I was also worried about being discriminated against, but I have experienced nothing like that. Universities have thousands of students, many of whom have difficulties of some sorts. The likelihood of them seeing someone else with similar difficulties is very likely!

Apply for Disabled Students Allowance (DSA)

This was something I had not heard about until actually getting to university. But my advice would be applying as soon as possible! This helps to get things in place before you actually start studying. The support that you can get varies, but some examples of things that it can provide is specialist software (this has helped to make my work more organised and easier to do), a mental health mentor (this is someone who is specially trained to help you reduce the impact your OCD has on your studies). DSA can also provide equipment such as printers. To get DSA you will have to provide medical evidence and then have a study needs assessment to see what provisions would be the most helpful to you!

Register with a new GP

Having a GP close to your university is important. Do your research about which GP you want to join. Some factors that you may want to think about is how close the GP is to your accommodation, how many doctors there are and whether the doctors are male or female. Book an appointment near the beginning of term to talk to them about your OCD and see what support there is to help. It is also important to sort out any medication you may be on. GPs are also able to facilitate any referrals you might need to mental health services!

Work with your team at home

Before even attending university, speak to your support network you have at your home address. Ask them to write letters to support referrals to your new teams. They can help you to plan your move away from home and help you to understand some of the things that you might find difficult and how you can manage them. I found it really helpful as my team at home were able to contact my university teams which took some of the pressure off me having to sort everything out by myself!

Keep in contact with your family!

Homesickness was something that I was really worried about when first going to university. I was worried that I would miss home and my family. Although your university friends will quickly become your second family, sometimes nothing can beat a phone call with your mum. Remember that it’s okay to ring your family every day or never. It’s okay to go home every weekend or just at holidays. Do whatever suits you. I find it really helpful to facetime my whole family every weekend. This means that we get to keep up to date with each other’s news and helps being 4 hours away from home slightly easier.

Take time for yourself

University can be hard, having to keep on top of your studies, attend lectures, do your cooking, learn how to use the washing machines, have a social life and participate in any societies/ sports clubs that you want to. It’s a completely different lifestyle and it is exhausting! It can be hard to look after yourself and this can lead to further deterioration. Take time off to do things that you enjoy, treat yourself and remember to get enough sleep and eat well.

Find friends you can trust

Your friends you make at university quickly become your second family. They are who you can go to for anything. Put yourselves out there and try and meet as many people as you can. Everyone is in the same boat and wants to broaden their friendship groups as much as possible. You don’t have to tell them about your OCD but it’s nice to know there are people there if you want a distraction/ want to talk about anything!

University really helped me to tackle my OCD and despite all my worries, I absolutely love it.Zoe

Have fun!

I think this one is self-explanatory but probably one of the most important pieces of advice I can give you!

University can be a scary place for everyone so try not to view OCD as too big a hurdle. There is so much support out there and university really helped me to tackle my OCD and despite all my worries, I absolutely love it.

Zoe.


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