Monday, 6 June 2011

A tale of two students.....or why it's all too easy to have a nervous breakdown

On a high......
She was the best of students and the worst of students.
Student A came from a high achieving background. Her father was a high court judge and her mother a city barrister. She was expected to follow in their illustrious footsteps so naturally she applied to one of the top universities Student A had no siblings so she was lavished with attention.Her parents supported her talents by ensuring she developed in a wide range of disciplines from activity holidays to work experience in the most prestigious firms. She completed her law degree and was headhunted by an eminent  chambers (naturally, family connections helped). Though she was progressing in her chosen field, she was working a 100 hour week and never had time for a social life. She had a healthy income, a luxury apartment, domestic help, a convertible, holidays abroad but she was lonely. One day, due to pressure of a high powered career she had a nervous breakdown. She was thirty five years old.

On a low....
Student B came from a modest, working class background. Her father was a factory worker and her mother a nurse. She had two younger brothers, one born with a disability, whom she had to help her mother take care of. She was an extremely bright student with a good ear for music.  Sadly her father had to retire on grounds of ill health and the family’s finances took a turn for the worse. Her mother too another job and became ever more reliant on her to help take care of the house. Student B became very depressed as her responsibilities at home increased. She couldn’t concentrate on her studies and failed her exams. Since there was little support at home and university was just a distant dream she had a nervous breakdown. She was eighteen years old.
The moral of these stories is that your personal circumstances either make you or break you – very often it’s the latter. Money does not enter the equation since the pursuit of this alone will take you down a rocky road. Wealth is not a guarantee of success though it will create the illusion of security. Those who say you can be wealthy and miserable do not understand that the human spirit is not built for it. Sometimes we rise above our circumstances but sometimes it’s beyond us. Circumstances have nothing to do with success though mental health does. When emotional support is weak then success is a much harder reach – not impossible – but it takes the strongest ones to push through the psychological barriers.



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