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Gina Lloyd considers how graduating may have an impact on mental health.

Graduation is less than 3 months away. It’s a scary prospect for all of us currently in our final year. Maybe even scarier than the final exams we are about to sit. To no longer have that safety net, that excuse, to live the student lifestyle and enjoy that freedom of no set routine. That all ends in one ceremony and we are thrust definitively in to the adult world come July with very little else but a few more letters after our names. We will suddenly be faced with very real, very grownup issues of jobs and housing, with no large institution or student service to back us up.

Add on to this my mental illness, I think you can see why I’m so terrified. Because I know leaving university will either be amazing or absolutely devastating to my mental health. Best case scenario, it’s the best thing that ever happened to me. Leaving toxic relationships, my occasional weekday drinking habit, and the stress of deadlines behind will do me the world of good. The stability of my parents’ house and my steady job could provide the structure my life has been lacking recently. I could flourish under that safe environment and somehow, finally get my illness under some control … Or I could not.

Transitions are difficult especially for those of us that have Bipolar disorder.

The last big transition of my life was coming to Bristol, and that was the trigger for the most severe manic episode I’ve suffered so far. I was loud, didn’t sleep, drank heavily and took risks I still shudder to think of. Quite honestly I was a nightmare to be around. It all culminated in the Christmas of first year in a very public meltdown that ended with security in our halls and me alienating a lot of people. It took a good year to rebuild those friendships and my reputation. What if that all happened again? What if moving cities again was the trigger to cause another manic episode? Now that I have more to lose it could be even worse, I wouldn’t be able to hold down a job like that. I’m scared because I just don’t know what way this is going to go.

I won’t know what will happen until I get there, I guess for all of us life after graduation is a leap in to the unknown. We know there will be that gorgeous, teary day in the middle of July. We know we’ll wear our gowns and be with the people that became friends over the past three years. But after that, then what? How hard is it going to be to get a job? How long will it be until we can actually afford houses and weddings and children? Will any of us actually use our degrees? Only time will tell.

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