Mental Health of a Law Student

Mental Health of a Law Student

Hello! My name is Georgia or @georgiadoeslaw on Instagram, and I am currently in my second year of my law degree at the University of Greenwich in South East London. Ever since September last year, I have been studying online and I cannot wait for it to be over. When my university had announced that we would be studying online for the first term, my initial thought was that “it’s going to be okay”. Looking back on this statement, I was far from wrong. I tried to make sure that I had a schedule put in place like I did when I was physically living and studying in London and this involved going to the library every weekend. As you can probably gather, I am not from London {even though I like to think that I am}. With the library in my city only a short distance away, I knew that I would be able to make studying online work for me or as I hoped that it would pan out. Unfortunately, this did not go to plan as the library quickly closed down due to lockdown and everything fell apart due to lockdown. 

Online studying: I never thought that I would be studying online for a whole year of my degree and here we are. I do not particularly enjoy using technology at the best of times but one of my worst nightmares had come to fruition and this is spending all day everyday on my laptop doing work. In October, for some modules I started missing some of my seminars as I did not see the point in it. Most of the time, I try to leave my bedroom every few hours to show my family that I am still around. However, this changed in January at the announcement of my EU law coursework grade being published. A lot of people do not know this about me but whenever I have coursework grades that are pending, I spend the majority of my time worrying. Imagine this, you have uploaded your coursework for one of your favourite modules knowing that what you’ve done doesn’t show how you can write academically. As soon as that coursework has been uploaded, you start crying because you know that you have failed. Imagine spending several hours each day worrying about this and spending hours in your bedroom by yourself crying and having panic attacks. From this worry, I wasn’t able to properly enjoy Christmas or New Years with my family and spent the day worrying. I could be “happy” one day and sad the next. Anyway, back to January. When the coursework grades were released, my EU tutor sent all of us an email to let us know that they have been released. I sat on my bed and opened the email up to see what she wrote and in one paragraph, she mentioned that there were some students who should be ashamed of what they wrote, and it is some of the worst assignments that she had seen during her career as a university lecturer. As soon as I read that, I had a feeling that I was one of those people. I had spent most of the day sat on my bed not wanting to speak to anyone and felt like a failure. That night, I spent time trying to sort out my folders and trying to take my mind off of it. That night, I cried myself to sleep. I had also announced on my Instagram that I would be taking a break from social media as I was so upset by what my tutor wrote in the email. However, before I left social media for my break I heard from several people from my university and they told me that its going to get better. One girl from my year told me that if I failed, its not the end of the world and she was sure that I had not done as bad as I thought. She had more faith in me than I did. One person who was so comforting was @saradoeslaw. I cannot tell you how comforting it was to speak to her over the phone. She thought that I would want to speak for half an hour, we spoke for over 3 hours on the phone talking about anything and everything.  Over the rest of the week, I had sent several emails to my personal tutor to try and see if I could speak to her and the amount of times that I actually felt like dropping out is ridiculous. From leaving my bedroom every few hours, I would only leave at night to eat as my mother would not be awake. During this time, I would miss out on meals as in my head, I did not have time to eat as I had to worry about my grades. The week after my EU grade had been released, I finally had a meeting with my personal tutor. As soon as I saw her on video, I broke down in tears telling her how hard it has been so far and how much I do not enjoy online learning. She told me that whenever it gets too much for me, that I should go out for a walk and not take anything with me. She also told me that I should always have a tall glass of water next to me. During this call, she brought up my EU coursework and asked me if I want her to be there on camera with me when I see what grade I had. I shook my head and told her no. So, she suggested that she could email my EU tutor to find out what grade I had and then she would email me to tell me what I had. As soon as the video call ended, I felt a sense of worry as I would know that day what I had. After constantly checking my emails for about an hour, there it was. The email with the subject of EU: GOOD NEWS!! As soon as I opened the email, I was elated to find out what I had. I couldn’t believe that I was worrying about 61% {which is a 2:1}. I emailed my tutor as soon as I found out, by profusely telling her thank you. Due to my worries, I now try to have a video call with my personal tutor to have her there when I open up my grades. I try to video call her each Thursday to have a chat and tell her how I am feeling. 

SEMINARS: In September, I made sure to attend all of my seminars however, sometime in October I started skipping my seminars. If you were in my public law seminars during my first year, you would know that I answered pretty much most of the questions that my public law tutor would give us. From being someone who was seen as being confident about law even during my A Levels, I have gone from that to being the one thing which I never wanted to be known as again and that was quiet. During my primary school days and high school days, I was usually seen as someone who did not have a voice and was always seen as quiet and shy. Especially in class discussions. Whenever my school reports would come out each year, it would usually start off with “Georgia is a quiet and shy child”. That is not what I wanted to be known as even now as a 21-year-old adult. I am struggling to go back to the person that I was during my first year and to show the tutors that I know the answers. Whenever I do answer a question in my “seminars”, I feel like screaming with happiness because I contributed to the discussion at hand. Whenever my seminars have finished for the day, my mother usually asks me how my lesson was and she is always under the presumption that I speak all the time in my seminars and I answer all of the questions. If only she knew the truth about this year. With my mental health issues going on, I feel like I cannot speak to any of my family about it. Especially my mother as I feel that even though my brother has OCD, she doesn’t understand it. Even though he spends two hours each time in shower, he cannot help it. When I have something going on, I spend hours even days in my bedroom. I feel better speaking to people online about it especially in the studygram community as it is comforting to know that I am not the only one who is struggling even though it feels like I am.  In January, I had a seminar for EU with a different tutor for 4 weeks in preparation for my assignment on that topic. During the second seminar, a lot of people were not speaking. He asked one boy in my class if what happened in the scenario was compatible with Article 45 TFEU. He said no. As soon as he said that, he started calling my name. I knew the answers to every other question but this one. I tried to deter him by not answering and then he was asking me if I was there or if I was having a heart attack. I thought, “why would you ask a student this?” He then said that if I do not know the answer, just say. As soon as he said that, I turned my microphone on and I said it. After this, I honestly felt so embarrassed that I made a tutor wait because I had no idea how I would be able to tell them that I did not know the answer to a question. Like I said, I never want to be seen as someone who doesn’t know what they are talking about and wants to be seen as someone who knows the answers. Soon after this, I made sure that for my last seminar with him that most of the time I was the one who was mainly answering the questions to show him that I knew the content that he had taught us over the past 4 weeks. When I was 14, I remember going to school one day with a couple of my friends and we were standing in the playground and one of my friends was speaking to a friend of hers. I said something and she said to me “OMG, you spoke”. It bothered me when I was 14 and almost 8 years later, it is still bothering me. 

MOTIVATION:

My motivation and productivity have gone south since the first term. During my first year, I would study everyday and make sure that I was able to go to the university library pretty much most days and on weekends, I would try to stay at the library as late as possible doing work. Whenever my mother would call me in the evening and I was at the library she would tell me off for staying so late. However, since March last year I spent my last few months of first year at my mothers house and I have so far spent the majority of my second year at my mothers house. It may sound strange but I think that I was more motivated to study during my time in London because I was in London. I have never felt so happy in my life to say that I am finally in the one city which I consider home. I left Cardiff for university in September 2019 with the intention of hopefully not coming back. Now that I have been back here for almost a year to study, it feels like a nightmare. During my A Levels and my resit GCSEs, I studied so much with the intention of going to London and not coming back for a while. I was only able to stay in London for 6 months. Since lockdown and online learning had begun, it feels like ground hog day everyday. I could tell myself “Georgia, tomorrow is going to be better” and I would have a plan set out as to what I want to achieve that day and most of the time, I can barely get past the first task. Sometimes, I do not even get anything done as I just feel like I am having yet again, another panic attack. As I am writing this, I have the urge to cry. I am holding back though as I do not want to tell my mother what is going on as she usually says to me if I worry about something “I wish I had your worries”. Due to my motivation being quite poor, I have had to force myself to sit down at my desk and do work for hours. I think that this has been the most unproductive that I have been in years. I cannot wait to one day go back to who I used to be. It just seems like a lifetime away. 

GOING FORWARD: 

If any of you follow me, you would know that I usually do updates each month on my mental health. I couldn’t believe the amount of people who came forward in January and told me that they were in the exact same position as I am. I always have the intention of doing live study with me’s but they never seem to go ahead due to the fact that I never feel like doing it when I want to do it. On Friday, I had the intention of doing a live study with me then but I just felt like crying after my land law seminar and I did not want to go on Instagram live and just cry throughout the stream but one of my friends told me to do it to show the effects of online studying and how they have effected mental health. The other day, there was a teenager on the news who had attempted to commit suicide a couple of times since lockdown began last year. She was told that it wasn’t serious enough to get help. 

If you have made it this far, I cannot thank you enough for reading! I just wanted to thank The Notier Club for this amazing opportunity that they have given me. In particular Ammarah! Also, thank you so much to my friends Sara and Sophie, I do not think that I would have coped this much without you – Georgia {@georgiadoeslaw}. 

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Beth

    I loved post!! Thank you so much Georgia for sharing your experience with lockdown as a law student, I’m a second year too doing law and fully relate to how you feel! It genuinely is weirdly reassuring to know that I am not the only one who feels this way.

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