I’m honoured to announce that this post is in collaboration with Future Learn.
At school I excelled at English – from a young age I’d enjoyed writing (granted, back then it was for writing short stories on having my own horse) and one of my Middle School teachers predicted that I’d end up being a Journalist. But from as young as I can remember; we were taught at school that we do our GCSEs in High School, stay on for Sixth Form to sit our A Levels, and go to University to get a degree to get a job. We were never taught about Apprenticeships or alternative qualifications like Access to HE, BTEC, and vocational qualifications.
So, when I struggled with the revision and exams at GCSE level, I felt like a failure at life! I worried that if I didn’t pass the first part of the life plan then I wouldn’t be able to do the rest. Somehow, I managed to pass every single subject (7 C’s and 2 B’s) and went on to do my A Levels at a different college.
I’d only experienced auditory hallucinations for ten days before I had to sit three exams in one day, so I hadn’t even begun to develop any coping skills for the voices and their demands for me to self-harm. I think that probably any eighteen-year-old would struggle to complete three exams in three different subjects (Law, History, and Philosophy and Ethics) on one day but the voices meant I was especially vulnerable to the stress it caused.
Needless to say, that I began overdosing in the morning and continued taking tablets throughout the day before passing out in the middle of exams. My suicide attempt and subsequent detention under the Mental Health Act meant that getting decent grades in my A Levels was going to be incredibly unlikely.
Ironically, this made my mental health a lot worse because it led to feelings of hopelessness that I wasn’t going to have a good life and there was no point in making any kind of effort to do anything if I wasn’t even going to get a job. Failing exams meant that my life was over.
But when my mental health improved, I learnt of all the different types of qualifications that I could get to find a job but when things started to fluctuate it seemed impossible that I would ever amount to much in life and I abandoned education for about four years.
When I was an inpatient in Cygnet Hospital Bierley I learnt about the Distance Learning courses that Bradford College provided and began studying for several NCFE qualifications such as End of Life Care, Customer Service Knowledge and Understanding Learning Disabilities. Studying gave me something to do on the boring evenings in Hospital and it helped me to see a light at the end of the tunnel; I liked to know that I was doing something to go towards the future that had seemed so impossible and unlikely.
On leaving Hospital, I still wasn’t well enough to go to College full-time and I finally came across Future Learn. The website offers a vast number of courses facilitated by several different Universities, Colleges, and organisations and it’s all completely free (unless you choose to pay for unlimited access to the course and a certificate on completion of your chosen course). There’s such a huge range that it means there’s courses for all my different interests from law, to mental health, to animals, to fashion.
Studying with Future Learn has been so incredibly helpful in my mental health recovery as it's taught me that I am capable of achieving something. A sense of achievement is very powerful in the face of feeling lost and hopeless on the hardest days.
MY FUTURE LEARN RECOMMENDATIONS:
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Young People & Their Mental Health: https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/young-people-mental-health
Digital Skills: Social Media: https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/digital-skills-social-media
Forensic Psychology: Witness Investigation: https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/forensic-psychology
Start Writing Fiction: https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/start-writing-fiction
Social Media in Healthcare: Opportunities & Challenges: https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/social-media-in-healthcare
Youth Mental Health: Helping Young People with Anxiety: https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/youth-mental-health
Beyond Diagnosis: Is Psychiatric Diagnosis Helpful?: https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/beyond-diagnosis
FOLLOW FUTURE LEARN ON TWITTER: https://twitter.com/FutureLearn
LIKE FUTURE LEARN ON FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/FutureLearn
WATCH FUTURE LEARN ON YOUTUBE: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3i5AS_kCaFppoMwULYb99g/videos