It’s too late. – ryl forums

I actually called the OU a couple of days ago and they said I could do an access module first and that it would be funded for. They said if I want to start in February, I need to apply before 10th Jan. I guess I’m just worried that one day I might change my mind (if things change and I get more confidence) I may want to go to a college/university in person although I highly doubt I will. I just wouldn’t want to use my funding up and then change my mind. I want to keep my options open but I don’t know how. Also this is gonna sound a bit silly but I’m worried people will think I’m "less unwell" if I decide to do it and then get less help from services, my care package etc.

They may assume that I’m "fine" because I’m doing a degree or whatever.

I don’t suppose you have any advice with this… I am so lonely I don’t really have any "real friends" or friends I see regularly. Have you managed to have a social life not through studying and how have you done this? I’m so lonely and I worry that going back to college/uni in person (which I’d rather not do) is my only chance to do that.

I’m not an expert, but going from what you’ve said on here and the support you receive, I think you’d qualify for DSA. You fill in a form, send in supporting evidence and then someone does an assessment. The assesors are really nice and on your side and just want to see what might help It can pay for a mentor to keep you on track with study, software to help you organise your thoughts, money towards a laptop if you need one (though in England you need to pay the first £200) etc.

Could you speak to Student Finance England about funding and stuff? I’m not 100% sure how it works these days, but I know that part-time distance learning used to be funded seperately, so if you decided to go to a brick university at some point then you could do that too. Definitely speak to them though, because I’m not 100% sure if it’s changed or not.

I don’t think they’d assume that you’re fine because you’re doing a degree. I am doing a degree and work part-time and still get help from services (care coordinator and psychiatrist etc), am being referred to therapy etc. People will see how much support you need to manage to keep these things going (study, staying well) and should maintain that level of support in order to help you to continue to manage it.

There are definitely ways, other that studying, to make friends. I have made friends through a variety of sources: Work, church, going to a MH centre that runs educational groups, volunteering etc. It can be very, very hard, and some of those things might not be for you, but sometimes it really is about putting yourself out there and taking a risk. Have you ever looked into going to a local MH centre (sometimes council run, sometimes charity run) and seeing what’s available there, or looked into volunteering? Some places allow supported volunteering, so it may be that you could do something with a support worker there to help you.

I see what you’re saying about people making assumptions, but really they shouldn’t. There are lots of people who are under services who study and they don’t lose their support. I was out of hospital for four years before my most recent admission and I had support throughout. People generally aren’t trying to catch you out or trying to take away support or anything. I’m sure they’d be really proud that you’re trying to move forward with your life, but they’d recognise that you still need a high level of support in orderto achieve what you’d like to achieve.

Could you Google your lovely volunteer centre and speak to them about things? My local volunteer centre are very helpful and have drop-in sessions where you can speak to an adviser about what volunteering opportunities might suit you. You could also talk to them about needing a support worker to go with you and see what your options might be.

I think I’d say that if you’re not sure what you’d like to do, then just pick something and go along. Doesn’t matter if you don’t like it and decide not to go back – at least you will have tried, and you might surprise yourself. It might be helpful for you to go with one of your support workers for the first few sessions of whatever group it is. I know that that’s an option at out local MH centre and it works really well for some people who struggle to attend things on their own.