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Remarkable Stories season 1 transcript 5

Alexandra and her eating disorder - a postgraduate student details her battle with Anorexia Nervosa

Content warning: please note, if you are currently managing an eating disorder or have done in the past, this episode will delve into recaps of experiences that you may find distressing.


Mitesh Vagadia  00:00
Please note if you are currently managing an eating disorder yourself, please be aware that this episode will delve into recaps of experiences some listeners may find distressing. 

Mitesh Vagadia  00:12
We are UCL. And these are our remarkable stories.

Mitesh Vagadia  00:21
Hi, I'm Mitesh Vagadia. I work in the UCL Student Support and Wellbeing team. In each episode I'll be in conversation with a UCL guest as they share with us their remarkable stories, experiences, and life lessons. In this episode, I'll be talking to UCL student Alex about her journey overcoming and managing an eating disorder.

Mitesh Vagadia  00:57
We're here to talk about a serious mental health condition... 

Alexandra Iciek  01:00
Yeah. 

Mitesh Vagadia  01:01
..a lot of people don't talk about. 

Alexandra Iciek  01:03
Yeah. 

Mitesh Vagadia  01:04
And you have experienced this and you're in a place now where you are happy to share and talk to people. 

Alexandra Iciek  01:11
Yeah, yeah. 

Mitesh Vagadia  01:12
Okay. Do you want to tell us a bit about what it is that you want to talk about today?

Alexandra Iciek  01:16
Um, yeah. So I had Anorexia Nervosa from about the age of thirteen, in terms of how bad it was to about 16, and then, kind of the recovery period was about a period of four years, I'd say. Um, yeah, so it kind of took up a big chunk of my adolescence and has made me who I am today.

Mitesh Vagadia  01:42
For people who have no experience of Anorexia, what does that exactly mean?

Alexandra Iciek  01:46
Um, oh, that's a tricky one. It's basically purposeful starv-. Well, it means lack of appetite. So Anorexia in  itself means lack of appetite and then Nervosa is basically when you're doing it on purpose to lose, lose weight, basically. You usually get diagnosed with Anorexia once you hit a certain weight. Before then it's kind of classified as an eating disorder, but Anorexia is a subset of the kind of eating disorder category, which is very complex. And yeah, there's lots of subsections in that.

Mitesh Vagadia  02:24
Okay. In terms of the actual Anorexia, when did you first realise that you are, that you had this mental condition?

Alexandra Iciek  02:34
Uh, it was very fast. I mean, I, it was 10 years ago now, so, 2010. I tried on a pair of jeans that didn't fit me and I think something just clicked, and within about, even just like three months, I just, I mean, I was an all or nothing kid, so I kind of just stopped eating and also stopped drinking. So I was fairly quickly kind of diagnosed with Anorexia and within, I think about five months, I was in an eating disorder hospital.

Mitesh Vagadia  03:06
Wow. So it happened quite quickly.

Alexandra Iciek  03:08
Yeah, yeah. Really quickly, really quickly the first time.

Mitesh Vagadia  03:12
And when you say the first time, how many times has it happened?

Alexandra Iciek  03:16
Um, in terms of where I had, like, there had to be like really serious medical intervention, I'd say twice. So I've been in hospital twice. One in an eating disorder ward when I was 13, and in an adolescent psychiatric ward when I was 16. 

Mitesh Vagadia  03:32
Okay. I'll come back to that. 

Alexandra Iciek  03:34
Yeah.

Mitesh Vagadia  03:36
In terms of the actual first time it happened, when you said you put a pair of jeans on..

Alexandra Iciek  03:40
Yeah. 

Mitesh Vagadia  03:41
Was there another trigger?

Alexandra Iciek  03:44
Uh, yeah. I was bullied to various, various extents, basically, from primary school to secondary school. It's something that on reflection, I mean, I wasn't really conscious of it before, but I think a lot of it was to do with the fact that um, it wasn't so much losing weight as it was wanting to control how I looked. If I was going to look bad, I wanted to dictate how I looked bad and how I'd be perceived. So yeah, I've been kind of looking skeletal on purpose, on purpose as opposed to kind of be made fun of for stuff that I couldn't necessarily control. It was kind of a means of getting that control back.

Mitesh Vagadia  04:23
And you said it happened at school? Was there any support? Did you speak to anyone at school at the time?

Alexandra Iciek  04:27
Umm, not really the first time because it was so fast. I, my health deteriorated quite quickly. So it was through CAMHS. So my GP, who we have this lovely family doctor who we still have, he picked up on it quite quickly and was able to refer to me, refer me to CAMHS, and they kind of took over. It's interesting because I would probably say that now, after, because this was just before - I hate to make it political, but I do think it's slightly political - this was just before the coalition came in and we had austerity. I'm pretty sure if that happened now, I would not have been seen so quickly.

Mitesh Vagadia  05:09
So you think it's it's more, it's worse?

Alexandra Iciek  05:12
Oh, gosh, yeah, yeah. I mean, I got, going through the system from 2013 to, I mean, even I'd say, last time was, I had interaction with it was 2018. So from 2010 to 2018, the whole system did deteriorate. 

Mitesh Vagadia  05:33
Okay.

Alexandra Iciek  05:33
Yeah.

Mitesh Vagadia  05:35
Going back to that bit in hospital, you said you spent two episodes while you were in hospital. 

Alexandra Iciek  05:38
Yeah. Yeah. 

Mitesh Vagadia  05:39
What was that like?

Alexandra Iciek  05:42
Umm, I'd say quite traumatic. Particularly, I mean, the, when I was 13, it was, you know, it was just, I was a kid and I refused to eat or drink anything, so I did have to have a tube put down me. Before that I did have to also get a drip put in because I was just like dehydrated. And there is something I think quite traumatic about having that kind of control taken away from you, that you're not allowed to, you can't, you get washed in bed - I did for the first few weeks. You can't walk for a certain amount of time. It's every part of your life is dictated to you and it feels a bit like a prison. Even more so probably the second time because I was worse the second time, so um yeah, it's quite traumatic. I think I needed it. I don't know where I'd be without it. But it was, I would say it was traumatic. 

Mitesh Vagadia  06:36
So it's something you thought you had to go through?

Alexandra Iciek  06:39
Had to go, oh, that's a difficult question. I'm not sure, I don't know where I'd be if I hadn't, particularly the second time. The first time, maybe I would have got better but the second time I, I was, I was very, very unwell and I wasn't changing so I think that particularly the second time I needed it. Debatable about the first.

Mitesh Vagadia  07:06
When you say unwell, tell me what that means. 

Alexandra Iciek  07:09
Umm, well the first and second time are probably different. The first time I was unwell, because I was just malnourished. I hadn't left, sorry, got to, I was underweight but not dangerously, well to the extent I was the second time, but I was, just wasn't eating, I flat out starved myself. The second time I played the system a bit, because I you know, learned, so it wasn't so dramatic in terms of malnutrition, but I got to a much lower weight.

Mitesh Vagadia  07:41
What kind of weight are we talking about?

Alexandra Iciek  07:43
Um, I would say my BMI was about 11, so, not a good weight. I weighed as much as a child basically, at 16, so.

Mitesh Vagadia  07:58
You mentioned the control element a few times and being in hospital took that away? 

Alexandra Iciek  08:04
Yes, yes. Yeah. 

Mitesh Vagadia  08:06
Would you say that eating disorders in general, and control is a big thing and they're very closely linked?

Alexandra Iciek  08:14
Absolutely yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. I think it's a huge element to do with control. I think it's a response to a lack of control in various ways, because you do, you want control over every part you like you can ask my mother, I'm the most chaotic person in the world, but when I was ill, I had OCD. Every part of my life was just organised to a tee. Everything was measured. Yeah, it's just absolute control over your life that you kind of want to gain including your food.

Alexandra Iciek  08:18
And that control, you feel like you lost some of it when, when you were targeted at school and being bullied?

Alexandra Iciek  08:58
Umm.

Mitesh Vagadia  08:59
Or was there another part that you felt that you had lost it?

Alexandra Iciek  09:02
I don't think it was, it was school. When you don't, being kind of targeted for what you look like, and how you mess or like you act, it's a kind of control over your perception and how you're perceived. So there was an element of, well, if I'm really thin and become quite quiet, then I can be known as the Anorexic, and that's it. Like, that's how I can be known and you don't have to worry about much else. I think there's a large element of that.

Mitesh Vagadia  09:28
We say there's a physical element to it, where you lose a lot of weight. 

Alexandra Iciek  09:32
Yeah.

Mitesh Vagadia  09:34
Is there a mental element to it? 

Alexandra Iciek  09:35
Oh, gosh, yeah. I mean, eating disorders aren't inherently physical. As I said, Anorexia is just one type of eating disorder. You have Bulimia, you just have disordered eating, for the life of me I forgot the name of it, but there's something to do with exercise and clean eating. So yeah, it's more mental than it is physical. You can have someone that is very, has a severe eating disorder, but you wouldn't necessarily know by looking at them. Anorexia is just one manifestation of an eating disorder. But yeah, that kind of disordered thinking does just take over your head.

Mitesh Vagadia  10:14
When you say take over, did you ever hear like a voice?

Alexandra Iciek  10:18
Not a real voice, I would say that you're, you become your own, you become it. It's, you kind of beat yourself, mentally beat yourself up if you don't do something or, I don't know, you eat something that you then kind of regret. It's that kind of, you're always on edge I'd say and you're always holding yourself to account to an insane degree.

Mitesh Vagadia  10:43
In terms of the health, did it impact on other health conditions, other health issues like with your physical health?

Alexandra Iciek  10:49
Yeah, so when I was really ill, I got sores. My pulse was really low. The first - sorry, I'm going back and forth here.

Mitesh Vagadia  10:59
It's fine.

Alexandra Iciek  11:00
The first time my pulse got to thirty as a resting heart rate, so that was like a big thing. I'd say in terms, that was like the immediate effects, in terms of like the long term effects, I got, my bone density decreased so I've technically got Osteopenia, which is just so I've got, well, this is when I was diagnosed, which was at 17. I was diagnosed as basically having the bones of a fifty year old I think, or a sixty year old, it was just something like that. Um, yeah, I lost my periods for about six years. Yeah, I mean, it really impacts your physical health. And as I said, various eating disorders can do that differently. People with Bulimia, they can really, they can get ulcers in their stomach, um, yeah.

Mitesh Vagadia  12:00
Those health aspects you just mentioned, they weren't enough to make you think I need to stop?

Alexandra Iciek  12:06
Um, no, no, no, You would, when you're in the midst of it, in the moment you'd be prepared to do anything just to have, to keep that control over what you're eating. I mean, I hid weights in me, I used to water load.

Mitesh Vagadia  12:27
Was does that mean?

Alexandra Iciek  12:29
Before you would go to get weighed, what you do is that you'd drink a lot of water, it'd be like one litre equals I think, one pound, or one kilo, I can't remember, but yeah.

Mitesh Vagadia  12:43
So there'd be things you would do..

Alexandra Iciek  12:46
Yeah.

Mitesh Vagadia  12:46
..to show professionals that you were doing something to get better..

Alexandra Iciek  12:51
Yeah. 

Mitesh Vagadia  12:51
..when you really weren't.

Alexandra Iciek  12:52
Yeah, yeah. 

Mitesh Vagadia  12:54
Did you ever speak to your family about this?

Alexandra Iciek  12:58
Yeah. I mean, it was, I'd say my family have just healed from it. It really impacted my family to a great extent because I was so ill. So it was every dinnertime, it used to be "Oh, no, no, here we go again." The arguments used to be awful. It's changed my relationship with everyone, but it's, I mean, it kind of, kind of brought us closer as a family, I think. Um, but yeah, it definitely changed our family dynamic.

Mitesh Vagadia  13:31
Friends?

Alexandra Iciek  13:33
Yeah, um, I'd never had it, I mean, in secondary school, I never really had an easy time with friends anyway, so I guess that kind of put greater strain on it. I got closer to some friends because of it. I made friends in hospital. I've got, I know loads of people from various therapy groups. In hospitals, outpatients, you meet a lot of people.

Mitesh Vagadia  14:02
You still in touch with some people?

Alexandra Iciek  14:04
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, I am. A few.

Mitesh Vagadia  14:09
At the time when this was all happening and unravelling, did you ever try to make sense of it, like why you, why is it happening to you, or why are you going through this?

Alexandra Iciek  14:18
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean, a lot of the therapy was around that. I mean, I was in therapy for about six years, and a lot of it is about why, what, I had like every therapy under the sun. So a lot of it was about that introspection, but I'd say I only really was able to make sense of it after I was out of it, of the eye of the storm, so to say. So I had, my last round of therapy was when I was 21 and that was a lot of introspection.  Yeah, it's a lot of looking back.

Mitesh Vagadia  14:54
And reflecting.

Alexandra Iciek  14:54
Yeah. 

Mitesh Vagadia  14:56
When you say the eye of the storm, when did you feel that you were out of the eye of the storm?

Alexandra Iciek  15:00
So that was done was probably when I was in hospital the second time. I was the illest, I was on bedrest, there was a point where I had to like, I would, you know, I had to sit a certain way so I wouldn't get bed sores, I was being watched 24/7. I think a big moment was, for me was kind of, oh God I need to get better as I remember my mum visiting me on her way to the beach and my family were in the car because they can visit palm, and I remember at some point I got my hopes up that I could go with them and it basically got rejected and I just remember kind of my mum walking out and me banging on the, there was like a glass wall and I could just watch her leave and it was just oh my God, I can't even go to the beach anymore. And it just I was, I was very angry because it's they can just go to the beach without thinking and I can't even sit without having someone telling me I'm doing it wrong. And I think at that point, I was like, I just I can't live like this anymore. So yeah, I think at that point I was just like, stop cheating stop, you know, just did everything to the tee. 

Alexandra Iciek  16:06
And there was a certain point when I started a new school. I was a bit cheeky. At one point, I just refused to go back because I was, there was a point where I was barely there, I was there for two days a week and I've just, I was like, I'm better I can do this without, without their help, and because I wasn't thing enough anymore to be sectioned, I just refused to come back. And my dad, I remember him being, saying, I was so worried because I didn't think you'd be able to do it, but it's never got, I'd say I've recovered. From from that point, I got better. Various ups and downs, including my weight, um, but it never got to the point where it was like, out of control, I'd say. So, as traumatic as that stay in hospital was, it was that turning point for me.

Mitesh Vagadia  16:58
It's strange that you use the word out of control.

Alexandra Iciek  17:01
Yeah, yeah. It's interesting. It's sort of you lose control yourself and something else gains control. I say even now there's always a conscious effort to just make sure you almost don't have that, you know, there's not that like, right well, if I skip this meal, then I know I'll do that and then I know I'll do that. There's always, I found myself slipping a few times and for various reasons, but it's never got to the point where it's like, I haven't picked myself up again.

Mitesh Vagadia  17:32
So that was the moment, your mum going to the beach, you not being able to go, feeling angry and frustrated and said, I need to do something about this.

Alexandra Iciek  17:41
Yeah, basically, I'd say oh, yeah. Yeah, yeah.

Mitesh Vagadia  17:45
And that was the beginning of your recovery?

Alexandra Iciek  17:47
I would say so yeah, it was a point where I just realised this has just destroyed my life and I suddenly had this imperative to have a life.

Mitesh Vagadia  17:54
How many years are we saying was this after?

Alexandra Iciek  17:59
So this was when I was sixteen, so this was three years. I was still underweight for, I was, I was severely underweight until I was in my 20s but there was never that, you know, I still ate properly, I wasn't trying to cheat anything. I didn't skip meals, it was just, I think it sometimes, eating disorders take time to recover from but it was, my health wasn't, my immediate health wasn't in danger anymore, and it wasn't taking over my life as it was before. And I look back at my A-Level period in particular very fondly because it was just that like transformation.

Mitesh Vagadia  18:48
How does it make you feel, the transformation and recovery and feeling better? 

Alexandra Iciek  18:53
Oh, it was, I mean, it was weird. There's so many ways that my life transformed from that point. I went to a new school which was very welcoming and I had friends. I had a boyfriend at some point, you know, one of the best people I know, he's still my best friend. I don't know, it was just kind of feeling that love and having confidence in my, confidence in myself. My body transformed eventually, that was very weird. Um, yeah, it was just suddenly things weren't as hard anymore and the hard aspects were bearable, whereas before they weren't.

Mitesh Vagadia  19:33
Would you say you started to enjoy life?

Alexandra Iciek  19:36
Yes, yeah. I think there's always going to be a sense of, I think there's always something inside of me that's always quite, sad is the wrong word, but struggling, but it's, it's balanced. Whereas before, I don't think it was, it was just all encompassing.

Mitesh Vagadia  19:57
Through the whole process and the whole period, was there a source of strength from someone or something?

Alexandra Iciek  20:06
Other people, completely other people. My family, my nurses, you know, the nurses were just insane, the hardest working people I know. Doctors. I mean, friends, you know, I do, I did have friends who stuck by me. Yeah, I just, I just think that a lot of you know, people can be so good and help, you know, just be there for other people just completely selflessly. I think kind of realising that is really what helped me get better, just kind of accepting love in all those forms and understanding that some people you won't get along with and that's okay.

Mitesh Vagadia  20:57
You said about accepting their love. Do you feel like at points where you maybe didn't accept their love? 

Alexandra Iciek  21:02
Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Mitesh Vagadia  21:11
Do you know why that was? 

Alexandra Iciek  21:12
Um, I think there's an alement of, on a psychological level, I think, you know, I used to have people that would run away from me as a joke, so I think there's an element of always worrying that people in your life are gonna run away. So you kind of just push them away instead but yeah, without going too freudian. 

Mitesh Vagadia  21:32
And the recovery you said, it's been it's been a long journey.

Alexandra Iciek  21:35
Oh, God. Yeah, yeah. 

Mitesh Vagadia  21:37
Do you feel uh, now, you said it took up until you, until you were in your 20s?

Alexandra Iciek  21:41
Yeah, yeah. Interestingly, the turning point was, in terms of my weight, was probably my, the second half of my year of freshers, so this was 2015. I lost a lot of weight that, in the Winter, first term, not purposely, just because of stress and, and I, you know, found that I was very lonely and I met another best friend who I just love and adore and I think he helped change my life because he was just this ray of light. And I think from that point I just, I don't know, it's just again just kind of letting people in and you sacrifice that control for just being happy, I guess.

Mitesh Vagadia  22:32
Where did you do your undergrad? 

Alexandra Iciek  22:33
Uh Bath, you knew Bath? 

Mitesh Vagadia  22:35
Nice.

Alexandra Iciek  22:35
Yeah. 

Mitesh Vagadia  22:36
What did you do it in?

Alexandra Iciek  22:37
Uh, Politics and International Relations.

Mitesh Vagadia  22:39
And now you you're doing a Master's here at UCL? 

Alexandra Iciek  22:42
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Mitesh Vagadia  22:42
What's your Master's in?

Alexandra Iciek  22:43
Uh, gender and, gender, society and representation. It's gender and sexuality studies essentially.

Mitesh Vagadia  22:49
How's it going? 

Alexandra Iciek  22:50
It's going good, yeah, absolutely lovely. Yeah. 

Mitesh Vagadia  22:52
Enjoy it?

Alexandra Iciek  22:53
Yeah, yeah. Particularly the other people who are on my course. They're just amazing.

Mitesh Vagadia  22:59
When you were at Bath University and doing your undergrad, were there any points where being a university student, maybe made it difficult for you and in the, in the sense that you thought you could maybe slip back into?

Alexandra Iciek  23:13
Um, yes and no, it's, it's complicated. As I said my first tough, in the first half of the first year I slipped back a bit, I was and I was being seen then. I, the support system was still there. It was a very up and down few years, some of the best moments of my life were in those years but you know, there was some awful lows as well that weren't just to do with my eating disorder. It's very stressful and sometimes you can feel like you're spiralling and I think there's sometimes a point at which you just have to stop and like just see the bigger picture that you know, right okay, I've got a lot of deadlines. I mean even now, even if on, like this January I had loads of deadlines and I was behind a bit, I remember kind of crying down the phone to my mother just being like I can't do it, and it was just right, I've got to just stop, calm down, and I was able to do it. I think you can get very overwhelmed at university because there's so much going on. And sometimes just dealing with it as it comes, which was definitely the attitude I had in hospital as well, just right, take it day by day, can sometimes be really helpful, because I think if you just look at, pile everything up, and just look at it in a mountain, it's, it's gonna look huge, but yeah.

Mitesh Vagadia  24:41
I feel like society maybe has changed with social media, things that are on TV now, certain people portraying a certain image. 

Alexandra Iciek  24:50
Yeah. 

Mitesh Vagadia  24:51
And that maybe is increasing the pressure for people to look a certain way.

Alexandra Iciek  24:56
Yeah, maybe, um, I don't know. In terms of media influence perhaps. I think to be fair though, there's a lot of, I think people need to be wary of this, there's a lot of stuff about like clean eating and detoxing and it markets itself as healthy eating when in fact it's just, anybody with an eating disorder can see it's, it's eating disorder commercialised, that it's having that kind of complete control, no carbs, no this, no that, no whatever. I think it's a double edged sword. I think on the one hand, yes, there's more of an awareness of it than when I was, when I first got it. But I do think there's almost, whereas it kind almost used to be in your face, I think now there's almost an insidious, insidiousness to it, in the sense that a lot of stuff that you see on Instagram, like a lot of diet culture, a lot of marketing for diet culture is around that and it is eating, it's stuff that promotes eating disorders. It's like two steps forward, one step back really.

Mitesh Vagadia  26:04
Has the experience made you who you are?

Alexandra Iciek  26:09
God yeah, yeah. I honestly don't know. It's fundamental to who I am, I think. I can't, I can't picture myself without it in the sense that just it shaped my entire adolescence, just all of it, for better and for worse. I think I say I'm naturally an introverted person, but a lot of people think I'm quite extroverted because I'm quite good at just talking to people and presenting myself. And that comes from just going from hospitals to different group therapies. You just meet so many people and have to talk to so many professionals that you are able to kind of develop this front that's very good for talking to strangers. I'm quite good at interviews I think because I just know how to talk to people and in different contexts. Um, I think I'm quite empathetic because of it. Yeah, I, it's fundamental to who I am. I don't, I don't think I can ever escape it in that sense. It's shaped many good parts of me, perhaps, or bad parts of me, but yeah.

Mitesh Vagadia  27:12
What about the way you perceive life now?

Alexandra Iciek  27:15
Oh. Let's just say whenever life gets pretty bad, I just look back at that time and think well, at least I'm not in hospital. Yeah. I think also, it's, I think it's made me a bit resilient. Again, the day by day thing, you know that bad times will eventually be over.

Mitesh Vagadia  27:36
Has it taught you anything about yourself?

Alexandra Iciek  27:37
Perhaps my strengths, but then maybe bits of my weaknesses.

Mitesh Vagadia  27:41
Is there any piece of advice you would want to give to students at UCL or anywhere else who's listening to this, who's maybe going through something similar to what you were going through?

Alexandra Iciek  27:51
Yeah, um one, accept people's help. Reach out, it's difficult. I'm not gonna lie., it's difficult but you will eventually get there. And on a very simplistic note, it's just, it's not worth it. It, it just really isn't worth it. There's points where, you know, you're looking yourself in the mirror and you're like, yeah, I look thin and it's just, for what? Like, to what end? And I think retrospectively I'm just like it's just not worth burning your life down for it, it really isn't. There are other ways to get control in a healthy way. Um, yeah, it's difficult to say. But yeah, probably those things.

Mitesh Vagadia  28:42
I know you said the word balance.

Alexandra Iciek  28:45
Yeah.

Mitesh Vagadia  28:47
How important is balance?

Alexandra Iciek  28:48
Very important. I am not very good at it, I can go either way. I'm either hyper in control or I'm just, my life is a mess. Sometimes you do just need to make the tough decisions to just get that balance. So you're not, your life is manageable, which, yeah, I'd say is where I'm at now, hopefully.

Mitesh Vagadia  29:16
Well you're here talking to us today, oren't you?

Alexandra Iciek  29:17
Yes. Yeah.

Mitesh Vagadia  29:21
Is there anything you would say to your younger self?

Alexandra Iciek  29:28
Umm, oh, such a good question. Probably what my dad used to tell me, take it day by day. But in that sense, I didn't need me, so my dad told me already, just sometimes when things are hard, you've just got to take it moment by moment. I mean, particularly when you're in a hospital ward and you weren't, the days were so long and the only thing that broke up your day was often food and sometimes a few hours in school. Time is endless, it was absolutely endless, so you just have to kind of make it through the day and then hope that the next day will be better and eventually it will be better.

Mitesh Vagadia  30:13
That's some good advice. We've got one question, we ask this to everyone

Alexandra Iciek  30:18
Yep.

Mitesh Vagadia  30:20
If you could go back and do anything different, what would you do? 

Alexandra Iciek  30:28
Um, weirdly, probably when I was 17, I think I pushed a lot of people, really good people away because of my experience beforehand. I don't know, I think that whereas everything before I'm like, well it made me who I am, I feel like there's some you know, once I was 17, I should have been more open I think to people, but, such is life.

Mitesh Vagadia  31:08
If you have been affected by any of the topics raised in this episode, please do visit the UCL Student Support and Wellbeing website, where you'll find a number of helpful resources. 

Mitesh Vagadia  31:18
Thank you for listening. In our final episode of the series I'll be talking to UCL alumnus Shahid about his experience growing up near the Afghanistan and Pakistan border and the challenges he faced adopting life in the UK.