I recently had my review tutorial with my university tutor and we talked about how I was finding the course and about how my mental health was. In all honestly, I thought I was doing well, but I acknowledged my worries. We’d talked about DSA and a disability support memo at the start of the year but I refused to accept it. I felt that I didn’t need either and that I was doing fine. I guess it was a pride thing.
But now, because I start placement in the next academic year, I realised that it was important to have the correct safeguards in place for me, so that I felt able to carry out my placements. Accepting that I needed a disability support memo and being asked to apply for DSA was hard for me, especially applying for DSA. I should probably explain what DSA is. It is called ‘disability support allowance’. It helps people with physical health or mental health conditions. In this instance, I’d be getting DSA and a disability support memo for my anxiety and my OCD. I feel that DSA is needed more by other people, but I understand where my tutor is coming from. Within my university, a disability support memo is essentially there to act as a care plan. It tells people your needs and tells them what to do to support you. I have to tell the university everything that triggers me, which I know will be difficult, but it is something I have to do, to benefit me in the long run. I’ll have to tell them about the times when I get anxious and worried and then they’ll tell me what they can do as a university to help me.
I originally felt that accepting both of these things was a sign of weakness, for me as a person. I like to be seen as the strong person and the person that can be resilient and bounce back from things. But after thinking about it, I realise that this might not be so easy on placement. I have my personal reasons as to why I’m anxious about placement, so that’s why I need to put the support in place now. I guess that I also need to legitimise my problems. I need to make them real, because they are real, I just try not to show that things are bothering me.
I think that this is a real step forward for me, in terms of my identity and the formalisation of my mental health problems. It is a big deal, because accepting my OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) and anxiety was difficult, verbalising it has been a struggle (although I’m used to it now) and this is the next hurdle in the process. But I will get over it. I know I will. This is just another bump in the road to success.