I’ve spent a long time at Queen’s. I came here as an undergrad to study English 2014, did a Master’s in 2017 and now I work here.
It’s a familiar place and I’m very much at home here, but like anyone, you can still feel isolated or lost.
My family moved to Ireland when I was four and grew up in Dublin. I went to an international school with kids from all over the world. It was a comfortable, even privileged childhood in a way, and we were a close family. But even so I always felt deeply anxious. In my teens I received some therapy and counselling for depression and anxiety but it didn’t really help. The services available then were a bit hit and miss and you really had to take what you could find.
My feelings of isolation and helplessness worsened
My move to Belfast coincided with my parents’ decision to return to Turkey, where they’re from, to look after family. Over the next couple of years I had a number of sudden bereavements in Turkey but for financial and other reasons didn’t travel to attend the funerals. There was no pressure put on me to go – quite the opposite, in fact my family were very understanding. But my feelings of isolation and helplessness worsened.
Identity isn’t one thing. It’s a spectrum of things you have to learn to navigate
There were other, personal issues at the same time and I struggled with all of it. My sense of identity, of who I was, became problematic for me. I’d grown up feeling Irish, raised as a secular Muslim but not being religious, spoke Turkish at home, a queer woman in Belfast studying English and not sure where I belonged in the world. I learned that identity isn’t just one thing. It’s a spectrum of things you have to learn to navigate.
Sometimes the hardest thing to do is just to ask for help
I sought help here at Queen’s as a student and through my GP, and was able to get some CBT sessions and counselling from Nexus, which was super helpful for me. Disability Services were very helpful and I’d strongly recommend any student who’s worried or feeling in distress to contact them. And I’m not just saying that because I work there. For example, they can arrange help for students with academic life by arranging for note-takers if you’re dyslexic or unable to attend lectures. And of course, they provide an expert counselling service through Inspire and so on.
Sometimes the hardest thing to do is just to put you hand up and ask for help. Because it means having to acknowledge something you may not want to face up to. But things can get better. You don’t have to try and fix everything by yourself, you know?
Mental Health issues can affect anyone at any time. But confidential, professional help is available through the University.
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