I’m an old college gal, not in terms of having been in education for years, but in terms of the fact that I’m an old gal, not a young lass (but I’m young at heart), who has only recently re-started her college education in 2011! Here in the U.K. it’s called being a ‘mature’ student!
I am by training and profession an RN (registered nurse). But that is possibly another story, as I was trained pre-University days in 1970’s in a hospital-based English nursing school, as a S.E.N. (State Enrolled Nurse) considered a ‘practical nurse’ not an academic one, and only years later was able to upgrade to my current R.N. status and somehow gaining a Dip HE in the process, but that was over 14 years ago.
However, I digress! Due to ill health I had to take medical retirement from NHS in 2007. I have to contend with a daily dose of pain and chronic fatigue due fibromyalgia (Fibro), back problems, as well as panic disorder, OCD, anxiety and depression. I often struggle with the fact that I can no longer work in my chosen profession in the way I used to as a cardiac intensive care nurse. I often struggle with feeling very low, that my life no longer has meaning or purpose and wonder what’s the point of it of it all. I have been in that dark place where there’s been no light at the end of the end of the tunnel, and wanted life to end. “Life eh?”, as Miranda Hart, one of my favourite comedienne’s would say.
So against this back drop, I was musing to a dear friend that I didn’t want my mind to go to seed, and so she encouraged or shall I say challenged me to dip my toes into studying with The Open University (OU), a distance learning, virtual university. I have never studied at a university, nor have a university degress. So naievely, dipping one’s toes in was an under statement, as studying my chosen subject, BSc (Hons) Psychology, is indeed challenging, it’s learning a new ‘language’ for starters! This is all the more challenging because the little ol” grey cells (as Poirot, a favourite sleuth, would say) cease up and refuse to work, not only ‘cos of my youth, but the joys of cognitive dysfunction or “brain fog” , or ‘Scrambled eggs brain’, as I like to call it, that dear old Fibro has given me!
It take 6 years studying part-time with the OU (2years for every 1year of brick uni), and each academic year begins in October and ends in the following June. Each year we study a different encapsulated module, and hopefully if I pass my next exam this June, I will have one more academic year to go! What is more amusing is that if I graduate next year in 2017, I will be turning 60 years old at the same time! In the Uk at 60 years, I will be entitled to free medicine prescriptions and a Senior Citizens Railcard. So maybe life really does begin at 60!! (Hee! Hee!)
I have been in receipt of the Disabled Student Allowance – DSA which provided me ergonomic office equipment, assistive software such as voice recognition software. But even more than this, I could not have got this far without the support of my amazing OU/Randstad Mental Health mentor who has provided me with study strategies, cajoled, encouraged, challenged and at times metaphorically dragged me through kicking and screaming! She understands my health needs, especially my mental health problems and the cognitive dysfunctions associated with Fibro. I cannot thank her enough. This is me being interviewed about my experience by Randstad Student Support-My Story
Here’s a link for DSA information if you are considering studying in any UK academic institution DSA UK
My support team is not complete without my long-suffering, loving and very supportive husband and our 10 year old very cheeky Sheltie, Monty (AKA. ‘Dippersmoor Dandy Lad’, alias ‘Naughty little foot-washer’ or ‘Flycatcher’), put up with my strops and tantrums at assignment deadlines and wanting to chuck it all in, on this roller coaster journey of emotions this kind of studying elicits.
So I will keep you updated on my OU journey. Fingers crossed and praying for exam success on June 1st! 🙂