Fresh stories

Madi on mental health

Hi! My name is Madi, I prefer they/them pronouns, I’m 22 years old and I’m going into my third year on BA Illustration. Whilst at university, I have tried to throw myself into the Students' Union and volunteering in general. I am a Student Mentor, on the Pride Committee for the second year running, and last year I became the LGBTQ+ Officer (Liberation Committee). Adding to that, this year I’m working for the Voices project and I’m volunteering as the Recruitment and Wellbeing Officer on the RAD Committee.

Oh, also I have anxiety and depression. And in my first year, I was involved in none of these things. I sat in my room most of the time, feeling isolated and alone.

To cut a long story short, having mental health issues hasn’t stopped me doing anything so much as it has been a disadvantage that I’m learning to work with and compensate for. Last year I had little choice but to intermit due to my mental health, but I stayed in Falmouth and, despite everything, was determined not to let it get the best of me. I stayed connected to the Students' Union when it would have been really easy to crawl into my shell and not come out, lie in bed with the covers pulled up over my head. I’ve done a lot of that in the past and it never makes me feel better. It would be really easy to feel ashamed that my degree is taking me more than the usual three years. Instead, I decided that, if it’s going to take me longer to get my degree, in the meantime I can build up my experiences doing amazing things. So, despite being in a bad place, I tried my best to turn the spare time I had into a positive, rather than doing little but surviving all year.

One of the things I’ve found with volunteering is that it gives me something to get up for in the morning. You get to make new friends and meet other people who, like you, are spending their Saturdays voluntarily helping at an open day to make new students feel welcome. No one is forcing you to be there, you’re there because you want to be. I’ve met some of the best people through being part of the SU.

I want to make a difference and maybe I can’t reach the whole wide world, but I can try to help individuals here at this uni. There is something really satisfying about bringing even a little bit of happiness to people that you recognise yourself in. I don’t want people to feel the way I did and I know I can’t reach everyone, but your Students' Union is all about supporting people who want to make that difference. If there is anything I can advise anyone with mental health issues, it’s that helping others lets you help yourself.