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University Generally

I think this is going to be long.

I know it's COVID this year, so things have been hard for everyone but I feel like my life has been getting harder and harder no matter what I do.
My most urgent problem is that I am in my first year of university and I just can't cope with it, but I am unsure if you need a backstory so I'll summarise a bit. 


Most of my childhood was spent in a family violence situation and was in and out of foster homes and schools. I have experienced different things so I have some mental health issues which have only just been diagnosed. In year 11 of highschool (2018) I was kicked out of home and had to work a few jobs in order to afford my school fees. This went okay but in year 12 I started to crash but powered through and did okay in the HSC.

 

I managed to get into a law course at uni (I only just made it) and it's been enjoyable but with the lockdown and everything else I've just hit a steep low. I'm in my first year and did okay in my first semester. I didn't fail anything and I scraped a distinction, but this second semester has been so hard. I've failed all three of my subjects because I was in hospital for my mental health and was just diagnosed with BPD, PTSD, SAD, GAD and ADHD. Some of these were diagnosed in earlier primary school but most are more recent.
Anyway, I was hospitalised for an attempted suicide but it's taken a month for me to access councelling because people don't know how to deal with me. I am very very good at masking my emotions and thoughts so it's just been hard in general to find someone I can engage with, not for lack of trying. 

Since hospitalisation I was only granted a one week extension for one of my assignments at uni and athough I am registered through their accessibility service it's been impossable to find support. I get some extensions but no actual guidance with the work and so now i'm failing and can't even understand the instructions of my exam. It's hard because the ADHD aspect of me makes it so hard to focus and I feel like I'm not being taken seriously. Especially since despite being diagnosed doctors are not believing me that I have it.

I know failing isn't such a bad thing, I can just retake. But someone told me if my acedemic standing is low then I'll get kicked. That doesn't seem fair to me but law is a gruelling subject so maybe it's the case? If anyone knows how this works could you let me know? I have tried looking around at where the info may be but I don't know who to ask. Covid has made everything so distant that sometimes it feels like I'm not even in uni despite the workload.

Another thing that is new to me is social anxiety. I have always been reserved but I have never been so terrified of people in my life. Kids at uni (or maybe just in law) are so intimidating. They're extremely smart, and most are very privelidged in my eyes with money and reletives who went to law school. I am the first in my family to go to uni and I can barely afford food let alone my textbooks. I'm not trying to feel sorry for myself so please don't take it that way, I just want advice on how to stop feeling so inferior. I haven't really been able to make any friends even though I got a taste of being on student council. Going into hospital meant that I had to neglect it for the most part.  

 

At my highschool graduation my teacher said 'it gets better' and I want to believe her but sometimes it doesn't feel like it ever will. 


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Re: University Generally

Hey @Kirby 

Thank you for sharing your experiences with us, I'm quite blown away reading this post and learning about your incredible resilience. I've just moved your post to another part of the forum so people can find it and respond with the support you deserve.

First of all congratulations getting into law at uni AND getting a distinction in your first semester, and being the first in your family, that is no small feat and you should be incredibly proud of yourself.  

I'm so sorry to hear how difficult it's been getting adequate support for your mental health, it can be really tough to actually reach out and try to get help and it's really upsetting when the support isn't there or isn't right. I've just edited out the parts where you said which uni you went to to keep in line with our guidelines around anonymity, but I'm going to send you an email with some specific supports so keep an eye out for that. You deserve to be supported and your journey with mental health to be believed and taken seriously. 

Feeling inferior is such a horrible feeling, and making friends at uni can be really challenging - even more so given covid. While you might be feeling like your classmates are really smart, you are really smart too, you got into the same uni as they did and the same course - you have just as much of a right to be there as they do. Would you be interested in seeing if your uni has any societies or clubs you might want to join?

It's understandable that being in hospital put things on hold with your study and friendships, our health can interfere with all areas of our lives and that doesn't make us inferior, it makes us human. I'm wondering if there is anything you like to do to look after yourself? Be gentle and kind to yourself @Kirby, you are doing amazing things and we're here to support you Heart 

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Re: University Generally

Ahaha thanks for being so kind. I am new to this site and should have paid more attention to the guidelines XD. I did intend to join a society but COVID had put a hold on things at the beggining and I didn't want to juggle too many things. I'm keen to try Mooting in my 2nd year. I will follow the suggestions you emailed me, my main fear was getting kicked out of the course. The whole catch up after hospital was more stressful then going to hospital itself XD. I dont really have any hobbies/things I do to look after myself but I've been trying to work on that. Uni break is on soon so hopefully that'll give me the time to re-assess alot of things. Thanks again you've been a massive help Smiley Happy
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Re: University Generally

I'll be honest @Kirby, I had to google was mooting was! It sounds really cool though!!! Is that part of your degree? Or like the law society? Will there be outfits? I am intrigued!

I hope you are able to find some chill things to do in uni break, it's been such an intense year for everyone but I do particularly feel for students. I really take my hat off to anyone who has been studying this year, you all deserve a big holiday Heart

While you're waiting on accessing counselling, are there any other supports you're engaged in like Kids Helpline or eheadspace? Or did they offer you any supports when you left hospital for if you feel really low again? We're here to support you as well, let us know if you want to chat through any options.

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Re: University Generally

@Hannah-RO 

Mooting is done outside of the course as an extracurricullar that anyone in the degree can do and it looks really interesting I'm just a bit shy. Not sure if there are outfits but there are competitions!
As for help, I have just started seeing someone through the hospitals SOS service which is like it's own mental health care plan. There are also numbers I can call but yeah, still shy xD. But that's not a big deal I usually come up again. Man Very Happy

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Re: University Generally

Hahaha okay so I also just had to google mooting! @Kirby I think I'd be shy too but it sounds like such a cool way to build confidence and get good at making strong arguments. Is it interesting to watch? 

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Re: University Generally

Hey @Kirby I wanted to reply to this because I'm also studying law, I also did not do very well in my second semester and have had my own mental health issues which have gotten in the way of my marks.

 

First of all I wanted to say how amazing you sound, being able to push through so many difficulties and get where you are now! Getting into law is no small feat, and I personally know how damn stressful that degree is. And I think a lot of people fail subjects in law, particularly in first year. At my uni they even made second semester an 'endurance test' to try and weed people out of the degree. I was told by an older law student that after first year second semester things get easier.

 

I'm wondering if you're struggling so much if there's anything you can do in the meantime to lessen the load on yourself. Could you maybe take a semester off and look for some work or volunteering opportunities in the legal profession? Or take elective subjects while you get your head around things? If you're struggling with the content of law, is there maybe another similar degree path you could take? I have mental health problems too and have personally decided to move towards the psychology part of my double degree because I don't think I could manage the stress of being in the legal profession- it's also just not my style, I'm not a planner Smiley LOL But if you're really passionate about law I know it's worth keeping it up.

 

I would look at your university's policy on subject failings to answer your question about getting kicked. At my university, you only get kicked if you fail the same subject twice, and that might even just be related to core subjects. It should be written down somewhere. And I'm wondering if you would be able to cite your mental health problems as a way to clear your academic record? I ended up withdrawing from one subject without any penalties because I missed an assignment due to getting the dates wrong the year I was diagnosed. I also know that at my uni you can appeal your grades for a year after the fact. Maybe you could talk to the student help or advocacy departments about this? 

 

I know the feeling of feeling inferior to other law students, so many of them are from such a privileged background, went to expensive private schools and to me even felt quite arrogant. This was especially so in first year where everyone thought that having done legal studies or gotten a good ATAR made them specially qualified to do law *eye roll*. One way I got around this feeling of being isolated was by doing electives which were to do with my passion and interests and attracted people like myself, for me this was social justice subjects. Other things can just be sitting in the same place every class, and for me I found that speaking up and being an active participant made me make friends with the other active participants because we had something in common! This will work better in an in-person setting of course, so fingers crossed for next year? And honestly, I just found that people just chilled out out after first year. A lot of the people who felt like they were superior because of their HSC marks learn the hard way that law isn't like the HSC and everyone is on a more even playing-field with the stress because things are getting more complex.

 

As for mooting, I would give it a go but just to warn you at my uni it's a lot of work! I tried doing it twice and the first time it ended up being a nightmare because of people dropping out because of the stress, and the second time my team didn't even get off the ground Smiley LOL Does your uni offer client interview or negotiations? I really loved those two and my uni also offered to match people if they didn't have a team! Also debating is a super cool way to make friends and practice public speaking if you have that club at your uni! Just throwing out suggestions that suited me Smiley Very Happy Anyway I hope you're doing okay right now, and feel free to ask me questions about any of the law units as I'm two away from finishing!