Insensitivity to people suffering

I think it goes without saying that it’s really important that stigma and nastiness surrounding mental health disorders is eliminated as much as possible from our society. But then there’s the other side to it – the insensitive side, not in a nasty way, but in an unhelpful and potentially damaging way.

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When I was in my first year at university, I lived with a girl who like the majority of us had moved quite a long distance away from home. She suffered with depression beforehand and struggled with university much more than she had anticipated. Therefore, she decided to leave and return home after just two months.

The problem she had was the rent. We lived in the most expensive accommodation at our university, and were under contract to pay the £120 a week until the end of the academic year – and she just couldn’t afford to pay this after the student loans would inevitably stop.

So before she left, she went to speak with someone from the university to get some advice on the best way to go forward. She wanted information on whether there were extenuating circumstances to get out of the contract, or any way the situation could be made easier for her. You could tell she wasn’t OK. For her at that time, the only option was to leave.

The response she got from the university team in my opinion was disgusting and it still infuriates me to this day:

The only way you can get out of paying your rent, is by proving to the university that you are a danger to yourself or others.

Effectively, that day the advice team told someone that was depressed and feeling suicidal at the time (whilst also financially struggling), that the only way they could get what they needed was to act in an unsafe way.

If you felt suicidal and someone told you that the only way to get what you needed was to be a danger to yourself or others – what would you do?

It’s asking for a tragedy to happen.

They weren’t being nasty or stigmatising mental health. They probably weren’t even trying to be insensitive. They were just following the guidelines on what the university say in regards to when it becomes acceptable to break the contract for accommodation.

But my point is, you can’t say that to someone. There had to be a more tactical way of getting that information across. I’m not saying they need to walk on egg shells around people with mental health disorders – of course they don’t – but a bit of sensitivity can make the world of difference.

Better training needs to go into these areas of expertise; especially in an educational environment where the staff have a duty of care. It’s disgusting that these things can be said and that they can get away with it, because it really could have had devastating results.

There were 12 of us that lived in that house. 3 of us were open about suffering from some sort of depressive disorder, but of course there may have been others that suffered silently. That’s a high statistic of people that may go to the university at some point or another for similar advice, and so it really needs to be better.

You’ll be happy to hear that the girl I lived with did not take their advice, but did leave shortly after and as far as I know, is still very happy with that decision.

lovelauren

The relief that comes afterwards.

*Trigger warning*

Now for those of you that saw my post last week, I was incredibly nervous about my exams that were taking place this week.

I haven’t been attending classes because my agoraphobia has become so bad, and therefore I’m incredibly far behind. But on top of that, I also have the agoraphobia to contend with during the exams.

Let’s be real – My finance exam on Tuesday can get a big black cross through it. It sucked. If I passed, I’m surprised and I’ll be extremely happy with the lowest grade possible. Finance hasn’t ever been my strong point. I can’t retain numbers and the fact that I was so far behind with my attendance meant I stood no chance.

That’s OK though. Retakes aren’t the end of the world and I’m pretty much at peace with the idea for the first time in my life. I was going through a horrible time and it wasn’t something I’m naturally good at. Anyone else would have done just the same.

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Today though – I had my law exam. I’m not naturally good at law – remembering all the acts and latin terms isn’t my strong point (overall this semester wasn’t really my strong point as I’m sure you can tell!). But my biggest issue was the exam itself.

I’ve taken these exams in separate rooms to limit my anxiety and I’m really glad the university have been nice enough to let me do that. But today’s exam was taking place on the second floor. No big deal right? Except for someone with agoraphobia that’s a bloody long way from the door. I’m trapped.

But I did it. My heart was in my mouth. I felt like I was going to throw up and it took me half a bloody hour to walk up two flights of stairs without feeling the need to pass out.

But I did it. I sat through the two exam and I did it.

And do you know what, I did well. My last minute hectic revising worked, and they literally asked me everything I knew the answers to.

Occasionally, just occasionally, life cuts you some slack and you can achieve more than you thought you ever could.

  • Beat the anxiety
  • Most likely passed overall

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lovelauren

Relief for today’s hurdle

For those of you that have been following me for a while, you’ll know I’m a student.

Last semester I let everything get on top of me – I was too depressed and anxious to move, nevermind go into lessons. So now, exam season is upon us and I’m so far behind and I don’t know nearly as much of the information I would like to know (or should know).

I’ve been considering retaking the year and having some time out until then, I’ve been considering quitting altogether – It’s really been an absolute nightmare. I’m someone that tries at everything. I’m a perfectionist. So the idea that I’m either going to fail or scrape a pass kills me.

Anyway, it’s been a massive race against time, but today’s essay is done and submitted at 9:14am (with 46 minutes to spare until deadline) and I’m so relieved. I didn’t think I was ever going to get there.

Check back in with me at the end of the week – when my two exams are out of the way – and I’ll be a much happier, more relieved and less anxiety-riddled person. Or I’ll be having a mental breakdown. Who knows?

lovelauren

The Events Degree

Now this tweet from Kirstie Allsopp did come a while ago and with it came many people in both agreeance and disbelief at her sheer ignorance for the subject. Anyway, I think it’s time I took Allsopp on and fought back for the industry I’m basing my future career around.

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I study Events Management at Leeds Beckett, formerly Leeds Metropolitan University. It’s the UK Centre and we’re fortunate to have lecturers with both amazing practical experience and high academia. Everyone is fully aware that it’s a controversial subject on whether or not it’s needed or useful, and it’s definitely up there with what people consider Mickey Mouse.

People think Events Management is all about planning parties. Well, ignorant people do. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. In my 2 and a half years studying so far, I have not heard the word ‘party’ used once. In a single lecture, seminar or casual conversation.

We effectively study a Business Management degree – but with an angle that you are running an events business. We learn the fundamentals of UK law, regulations, accounting, business management – and yes, a bit of creativity.

I’m not saying the average person can’t throw a party. Of course they can. You don’t need any qualifications for that. Just like you don’t to plan a wedding. People with absolutely no organisational skills or any understanding of the law do that every single day all by themselves without the help of a professional. But people don’t enter into this degree wanting to be party planners or wedding planners. We want to be conference managers, run international exhibitions, manage festivals, music events, sporting events – The Olympics.

It’s slightly different.

It’s the difference between planning something for 200 people that you probably know quite well, to being responsible for 80,000 strangers in a stadium who have all paid £60 each to both be entertained and safe.

Human error is always going to happen and things beyond our control are always going to happen – therefore inevitably, things that cause crises are always going to happen. However, we’re trained to put everything in place to prevent these occurrences. To prevent the next Hillsborough disaster which took the lives of 96 people, and the Brazil nightclub fire which took the lives of 233.

We learn the rules of capacity and what is a safe number of people to have in one venue. We learn the rules on fireworks and pyrotechnics. We learn many health and safety rules relating to events and venue management, and the laws surrounding them in quite some detail.

We learn these things so that hopefully these dreadful disasters don’t repeat themselves.

We learn these things so that people like Kirstie Allsopp can walk into the National Television Awards and feel comfortable and safe in the knowing that she will come out alive. She feels entertained and everything runs to time.

It’s supposed to feel effortless. It’s supposed to feel calm for the attendees. But without a doubt the entire events team are running round like headless chickens back stage. And the people that have been in the business for twenty years probably have worked their way up into that role, but the assistants on large scale events and the newly emerging talent which are going to take on the entertainment and business world in a matter of a few years, are all educated and trained in that profession.

Yes, it might be Mickey Mouse. But as a teacher once said to me, the company that made Mickey Mouse made a hell of a lot of money.

love lauren x