Moving to St Andrews from home and home to St Andrews is always something of an ordeal for me despite the fact I am now entering my third year and, really, it’s old news; I’ve done it countless times before. It isn’t even that I prefer to be in one place over the other, I love my home and St Andrews life equally, but in completely different ways and for different reasons. This detrimental relationship with transition is all tied up with mental health for me, and a lot of others I would imagine. One of my main concerns when I move from one place to the other is that the move will leave me in a bad mental place, I’ll miss my other home too much, struggle with-out the people I love at either home or in St Andrews, and end up lonely, anxious and upset. The worst thing about this fear is that, as of yet, it has never happened. I’ve always managed fine. I arrived in St Andrews over a week ago, settled in immediately and have loved seeing friends I missed all summer The same happens whenever I go home as well, and yet the anxiety remains and makes moving an emotionally tortuous journey.
The relationship between mental health and living in two different places for me runs deeper. When I have a bad week in either place, the mental refrains of, “I’m just missing home/University” or, “I would be happy if I was there” are ever present. The issue with these thought patterns is that I have tended to overlook the real cause of such periods of declining mental health, and I haven’t felt the need to tell anyone about it because it wasn’t real – it was just because I missed home or university, and the life I have there. It will always be ok when I go back. It has sometimes taken me months o really understand these thought processes, after being in both places and realising the same negative thoughts exist. Recently, I’ve had to face the fact that it isn’t the place; it is just me. Yet, this realisation hasn’t been negative for me. If anything, it has come as something of a relief. There is nothing inherently wrong with me – I am well suited for university life, and I can live in two places and, over-all, be happy in both. In fact, I am the luckiest person in the world to love both my life at home and university so deeply. I think I will just always find transition hard. Moving between these two locations will always present me with a wealth of emotion and anxiety that I wish I could ignore. However, I am no longer going to use this fact about myself as an excuse to ignore my mental health and detach myself from where I’m living at that time. It is about time that I talk to the people I love, and consequently miss so much, about my mental health be-cause, at the end of the day, more people than you could ever imagine are on the same boat.
If you find yourself struggling with similar issues, my most important piece of advice would be to talk about it; the amount of people who can relate to how you’re feeling can be surprising. When you understand how others are feeling, your own emotions always make a lot more sense – they feel natural, rather than like something to fear. Additionally, contextualisation is hugely important. With long summer and Christmas breaks you end up spending nearly half the year at home, a realisation that will shift your mindset towards wanting to make the most of every day here in the bubble. Before you know it you will be home again and missing it!