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The Story of N – Racism

The Story of S – Racism

The Story of TGetting an angry response

Wrong CourseIssues with a particular course

Sad, sadDepression

Rumours - Bullying

LonelinessHomesickness

Confused and AnxiousSerious Mental Illness

Bad Break Up

CuttingSelf Harm

Binge EatingEating Disorder

Family DisputeFamily Issues

 

Wrong Course (Issues with a particular course)

My friend was really sad.  He would come to class, and look really out of it.  The tutors were starting to get really pissed– off with him, but no-one seemed to care, including me!

This went on for a few weeks, maybe even a month.   One day, he really looked down – he either hadn’t slept or he had a hangover!  I finally asked him what was the matter, and he said he had a letter requesting that he see the Program Director next week about his academic progress– he was really scared, feeling sick, and his parents were going to go ballistic at him if they found out.  I told him this wasn’t good, which scared him even more – I felt really bad then.

Next day, I saw him just sitting in a tutorial room by himself, so I decided to go in and talk to him.  He was happier to talk that day.  I bravely asked about the letter, and he bluntly said I don’t want to be here – I hate this degree – I didn’t want to do it – my parents made me do it!!! He just couldn’t quit, so he was planning to fail and get kicked out, but this looked bad as well.

It turned out he really wanted to do another degree, but his parents couldn’t accept him doing this.     I didn’t know how to help him, but he looked better from just talking about it.

A few days later, I saw him again – he partly smiled and came over to me.  I asked how things were going, and he said he was really worried about the meeting with the Program Director – who always seemed mean and grumpy. He asked me what I should do?  I didn’t know and he went to this meeting, and I never saw him again.  We never even really talked about him in tutes… I feel really bad that I didn’t help more.  I don’t know what he did.  I wish Mend-A-Friend had been around then!

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Sad, sad (depression)

Melissa had been doing very well in her course, getting a mix of credits and distinctions.  But then her scores started to go down.  She started looking unhappy and tired.  She did not speak in tutorials and then started not turning up for classes.

I was at a loss.  I was not a close friend, but felt I had to do something.  I talked with some of my friends who felt I should stay out of it.  But I couldn’t.  How to approach her?  Eventually I talked with one of the more caring tutors.  She did not know Melissa so I felt safe in talking with her.  She suggested I look at the Mend-A-Friend website.

I looked at the site and summoning up my courage I spoke with Melissa over a cup of coffee.  She seemed depressed, but was grateful to me for talking with her.  I helped to get her to a GP where the diagnosis was confirmed and treatment started.  I helped her through the first few weeks but after that the old Melissa was back.  We have been friends ever since.

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Rumours (Bullying)

One of my friends was in a really bad way.  People in the class were spreading a rumour that he was on drugs and that he was gay.  It was getting horrible at Uni and even socially.  He looked really stressed, sick and started arriving late to classes. He sometimes seemed angry.  The rumours were getting worse, and more people were saying things – none of which were true.

I decided to find out from him what was going on. He was angry even with me, as he thought we were sort of friends. I quickly told him I was not part of the rumour set but I knew about them – I don’t think he really believed me. We left it there.   ……I saw him again in the uni cafe and he came to me and said he was sorry that he got cross with me, and that started us talking about a whole range of things including the rumours.  The upshot was we agreed to go the Course Coordinator together to talk about this rumour stuff. She was horrified to see what my friend had been suffering – the best thing that happened was it was all sorted, the rumour people have stopped, and everyone is happy again.

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Loneliness (Homesickness)

I moved to a new state to study at uni and I didn’t know anyone at all when I arrived. I was incredibly lonely and I hated my new city. I desperately wanted to go back to my home, friends and family. Someone else I knew at uni had moved from interstate as well but her family had come with her. She asked me over for Sunday lunch one day and this became a regular event. I used to so look forward to those Sunday lunches and I met so many different people (they would invite all sorts of people they met). I met someone who later became one of my flatmates. Another time I met someone who later became my boyfriend. Those lunches were so important for me in establishing a network of friends. They’ve since moved away but when they are in town they stay with me and I’m so grateful I can return the hospitality. I now know how lonely and miserable it probably is for international students when they come to uni.

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Confused, anxious (serious mental illness)

Michael was in my first year course.  He never seemed to settle into uni life and spent most of the time on his own.  At times he seemed to be speaking with someone who was not there.  He was losing weight and starting to look like he was not taking care of himself.  It was none of my business but I was worried about him.

I had a look on the internet and came across the Mend-a-Friend website.  So I decided to talk with him.  A few days later he was sitting on his own in the food hall so I got my lunch and sat alongside him.  He seemed scared of me so I just talked with him – about anything; the weather, the football, politics.  He did not say anything for a long time. I kept talking, quietly and confidentially.

Eventually he said a few words and then started to talk quickly.  It was quite strange the way he spoke.  He admitted to hearing voices.  Something was very wrong so I offered to help and we went to the student health service.  I waited with him, otherwise I think he would have run away.  After he went into the doctor the staff eventually told me that he was very ill and they would be admitting him to hospital.

I did not see him again that year, but next year he was back doing Year 1 again.  He talked with me once to say he knew I had helped him but he could not remember much about it.  He thanked me.  We occasionally see each other and just nod to each other.

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Bad Break Up

I went through a really bad breakup. My ex started seeing someone else while he was with me. He finally finished the relationship with me but then he started spreading rumours about me. Things got progressively worse and he and his new girlfriend seemed to go out of their way to torment me with awful text messages, phone calls and emails. There were verbal and physical threats and I  just went into shock because I couldn’t understand why they were trying to hurt me and I was scared about what they would do. I saw my ex at Uni everyday as he was doing some courses I did, so it was really difficult. I lost weight suddenly and I must have looked really spun out. One day one of my friends asked me if I would have a cup of coffee with her. When we sat down with our drinks she said to me, “I know that look. You’re really scared.” We started talking about what had happened. My friend arranged for me to have a new phone at home so that I could see who was calling me. She also went through any emails that I got from my ex and deleted those that were not good for me to read. Many other friends rallied around me including a friend who asked if it was OK if he called me once a week to check in and see if I was doing OK. I was very appreciative of those weekly phone calls.

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Cutting

While getting changed for a sports activity I noticed that my friend’s arms and legs had scars all over them. I asked her what was wrong but she just chewed her lip and said nothing.
During the lunch break I asked her again, but this time away from others. She suddenly broke down in tears and told me how her mum was having fits in her sleep again and that her brother was seriously ill and since then she had started cutting her arms and legs. I suggested she have a sleepover at mine and we talked about it and by the next day she was calm and knew the dangers of continuing to self harm.
About a week laterI found a card and a small tulip in my locker. Inside the card it read “thanks for everything, you really pulled me through a tough time”.
Just the thought that I have helped her still makes me smile…

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Eating Disorder

I’ve been a binge-purge eater since I graduated from high school, and it had gotten worse since I started university overseas. The loneliness, the stress, the culture shock, all contributed to my addiction to food. I’d eat a ridiculous amount of food in one sitting, impulsively, until my stomach expanded to the max and it hurt. Then I’d feel guilty and induce myself to purge it out. And the cycle continues. It happens at least 2-3 times a week, sometimes up to 3 times a day at its worst. I had never told anyone about it, not my mother, not my siblings, not my friends.

One day, I was binge-purging 3 times in a row (in a day!), and the 3rd time I purged, I saw tinges of blood on my saliva. Not to mention my stomach hurt so bad, and my throat’s very sore. I was very scared, and I realized that I really need help. In a moment of panic, I called my best friend and spilled out everything to her. She managed to calm me down, but she knew I needed a professional help. The next day she accompanied me to see the counseling unit. She encouraged me to open up to the counselor, to trust her so that she could help me.

It wasn’t easy at first, but I felt slightly better after my first counseling session. I felt relieved that I wasn’t being judged or humiliated. It’s nice to be able to confide to someone that understands the condition that I had, and knows how to help me overcome it. Little by little, I learnt how to distract myself away from food, take control of myself, and vent my negative emotions in safer ways. And with every progress that I made, the counselor praised and encouraged me to continue on. That made me feel motivated. Safe to say, I’ve avoided self-destructing myself by abusing food.
I can not say I’ve completely stopped binge-purging, There are relapses, but not often.

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Family Disputes

I was at school when I saw one of my friends crying. I asked her what was the matter. When she was brave enough she told me that two of her family members were having major disagreements. A few weeks later I saw my friend crying again and she told me her family members were screaming and shouting at each other.

A few days later I was at a function and I saw my friend with some of her family members. She had tears rolling down her face. As we went in she began crying and I asked what was wrong. She said she only wanted me to know. She then told me her that one of her family members had threatened another family member and I told her ”Don’t worry, look if it gets too serious and there are threats with a weapon or verbally, call the police from your sister’s phone.”

I then tried to humour her and ever since she stayed with me and stayed close, whereas in the past she would be really shy and not hang out with me.

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