The reality of depression at King’s

Article by Anonymous

What happens when the reality of university isn’t what you expected?


Every time a rush of uncontrollable sadness came over me, I felt as if I was standing naked in front of everyone. I was constantly living with that feeling of guilty embarrassment you get the morning after the night before. I felt like everybody knew and I felt like everybody was judging. It was a dichotomy of me versus them, the insane versus the sane, the weak versus the strong and I was losing every battle. I couldn’t concentrate. People were talking and I simply couldn’t listen.

University had promised to be the ‘best time of my life’, I was guaranteed to have lots of friends and money worries were something that we would laugh about over a drink. With the word student being used as a prefix for nearly everything; student loan, student night life, student holidays to name a few, it’s not hard to see where I went wrong. I was supposed to be that fun-loving, party goer with the perfect balance between work and play.

The reality of student life can be very different. The figures for depression amongst students are alarmingly high yet it’s something which is very rarely talked about. If you’ve ever felt nauseous waiting for your bank balance to load, stressed about having nobody to live with or struggled to keep up in lectures then I’m sure you’ll understand. These are just some of the main suspects causing the high rates of depression among students, with others including sleep deprivation, poor eating habits, relationship worries, alcohol, drugs and the uncertain job prospects which await post-graduation.

The reality of university was the complete opposite of my expectations. Following the death of a close relative, a relationship break up and a swift change of degree I found myself feeling lost by only the third week in. Freshers’ had come and gone and I was already pining to go home. I missed the warmth and familiarity of my friends and family.  I was questioning whether anyone liked me and over analysing everyone’s behaviour.  The over-thinking amounted to an unbearable level and before I knew it, I was at Victoria station waiting for a coach home.

Frequently misunderstood itself, depression can be a dangerous concoction of sadness, guilt, hopelessness, frustration, embarrassment and self loathing, and it’s undeniable that it can make you feel like the loneliest person in the world at times. But one of the most important things to remember is to make sure you have at least one person that you feel comfortable confiding in. While in this case a problem shared might not equate to a problem solved, it’s definitely something which has helped me the most.

Unfortunately the treatment and the route to recovery can be a slow and laborious one, but the most important thing is that you mustn’t give up. As depression is such a complex illness it calls for a diverse range of treatments, so it may take a while to find the one which is most suited to you. Being a student in London can occasionally be daunting for anybody, but fortunately you don’t need to go far to ask for help. King’s counsellors are located on each campus, offering both counselling and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, and the NHS centre at King’s has been incredibly attentive and understanding to my condition. After psychiatric counselling, psychological counselling and systematic desensitisation, I’ve finally found the treatment which works best for me. And it was definitely worth the wait.