My last blog was about the things a mature student needs to consider… I’ll start my latest blog with a brief update on where things are at with me, as there were a few things I left open…
My health; I had my back surgery early last month; the surgeon is happy it went well. I had a badly slipped disc, so they cut away the part of the disc that was sat on the nerve. I’m still having issues with the nerve, as it was damaged, but the hope is that it will settle before too long. The great news is that last week I was given the all clear to start my rehab, so after four months of living a painfully sedentary existence, I’m now able to swim, do yoga & Pilates and play a little golf.
My long overdue return to work; I previously touched on my nervous breakdown on the 5th February 2016 – a subject I’ll open up on a little more below. It has seen me unable to work for much of the la
st two and a half years; however, thanks to the help of an incredible counselor (a real-life Yoda) and a clinical psychologist, who have assisted me in picking up the pieces of my shattered life (I wish I was embellishing for dramatic effect), I’m returning to work TODAY. Once I’ve submitted this blog, I’ll be getting ready and heading into the office – wish me luck! As my boss is flying down from Scotland specifically to see me, I’ll also be straight in the deep end today, having to inform her that I’m starting uni soon, and hoping to negotiate some part-time hours to enable me to financially support my babies & put myself through uni.
Student financing; I alluded to my application for student financing within my last blog. I’ve found the team to be incredibly helpful and transparent in their handling off my application. Make sure you apply for everything you believe you may qualify for! My experience is that they will discuss every aspect with you and they’ll help you to clarify how you can attain the bits you’re entitled to – an example, for me, was I had to provide copies of my girls’ birth certificates and demonstrate that their mum gets the child-related financial support. The level of student finance that I quality for has gone up a little, which all helps, and I’m still hoping that I can achieve my ‘plan A’ existing come September; work just enough to enable me to financially support my children’s life, but also affording me the spare time to commit to my studies & finance a place in the halls of residence, so I can live between Cheltenham for uni & Bristol for my babies.
Oh… and it was my birthday last week; 38. How demoralising!
So that brings you up to date…
I want to now talk a little about mental health. To piece together the above and to share a little of my life experience. My hope is that I might be able to inspire someone; whether this be a younger student that is searching for their own identity and path in life, or a mature student, like me, that is facing the daunting prospect of re-training later in life.
Put simply, choose to live with passion and intent! Without passion, what is life really about? Everyone is different, through nature & nurture, we live through different experiences, our brains function differently & we aspire to different goals. But we also share many similarities. I can’t speak personally to every individual reading this, but what I can do is share a little about my experiences, what has shaped me in my 38 years & what life lessons I can pass on, which I think might help someone else…
I’ve previously alluded to some of the less favourable experiences that I’ve had, which have shaped my future in some ways; for example, three years of bullying and isolation in the second half of senior school. My first relationship ended in horrific circumstances in my early twenties when – six months into an engagement, having just exchanged on (but not yet completed the purchase of) our first home and on the brink of trying to start a family – she told me she’d cheated on me years earlier & my world crashed down around me! Then to my marriage, a 14-year relationship (12 married), which was a concoction of happy & traumatic moments; my ex-wife was my favourite person in the entire world, but we needed different things to be happy, which ultimately corrupted our union. But throw in her long-term ill health, my high—pressured career and a young family and you have too many highs and lows to talk about in detail here.
Thanks to support of Yoda (as I’ll forever refer to her within my blog), I was able to dissect my life experiences in order to understand the root cause of my breakdown and, importantly, to enable me to pick up the pieces of my life and to reform them into a stronger and more balanced version of myself. I could talk all day about the numerous lessons I’ve learned from Yoda and from my life experiences, but you have a life to live & this isn’t meant to be a novel! So, instead, I’ll impart the two main things I’ve taken away… live with passion and intent!
I’m a passionate and emotional person. However, because I was living my personal life being what my ex-wife needed (in turn, suppressing what I needed), and living my working life doing something that wasn’t feeding my soul, I was dying inside. That sounds more dramatic that I intended, but it’s ultimately true. Now that I’ve seen the error of this, I have been able to rebuild my life with clear passion and intent for my future and, you know what, it’s incredibly satisfying. Choose a life that you want to live. Don’t settle for less. Pick a career that you can be passionate about. Work that’s fulfilling! That doesn’t have to mean hut building in Africa, it can mean teaching, for example. Social work. Nursing. In my case, psychology. It’s open to your interpretation too, it doesn’t have to be something that someone else believes is fulfilling work, what’s important is that it’s fulfilling to you! You might want to earn big money, have a career that’s ‘high-flying’, so stockbroking or law might appeal. What matters is that you open your mind and soul to finding what makes you tick! Don’t live as I did, for someone else, without true purpose, as you’ll otherwise get to your late thirties and feel empty inside. It’s a gut-wrenching feeling. Truly soul destroying.
Try to apply this to all aspects of your life too; if you’re going to be in a relationship, make sure it works for you both! Love someone that’s good for you and will love you back. Otherwise, be patient. Don’t settle! Life is truly too short to be unhappy or live in a dysfunctional relationship. You can’t force these things; be patient and just live for now.
I’ll relate this back to university; embrace your subject. Work hard to get the most from your time – even if your subject doesn’t end up being the basis for your career, a strong grade and positive experiences will benefit your future. This is also true of your life outside of university; enjoy your life, grasp the experiences. Embrace people that are good for you & be good for them too!
Believe me, the more passion and intent you have in your life, in the way you live it, the more fulfilling it will be. You’ll also find that the pieces of your own jigsaw will more naturally fall into place if you live in a balanced way; the friendships you nurture, the work you take on, the people you love, the pastimes you choose.
That’s enough from me. Until next time… stay classy San Diego!