Gail celebrates her graduation day with her son and mother.
Vital skills that Gail Lloyd learnt on her psychology degree have helped her to overcome some of the most tragic circumstances in her life as she graduates today from Edge Hill University.
A car crash, facing life as a single mother, losing her father, illnesses hitting the family and being diagnosed with severe physical and learning difficulties would be enough to make anybody give up.
But not Gail, who, despite life’s many struggles has persevered with her studies and shows that sheer determination pays off.
“I’ve gone through every emotion you can think of,” said the 40-year-old from Southport. “There have been times when I’ve just wanted to throw the towel in and at one point I just thought ‘seriously, can anything else go wrong’. It feels like there have been so many obstacles. But I’m a really positive person and I’ve always tried to pull myself back from the brink no matter how bad things get. I guess you could say that I’ve been through everything to get here today. I still can’t believe I’m graduating, it’s like a dream come true.”
She first enrolled on the BA (Hons) Psychology degree in 2008 but following a car crash the year before she was still suffering many pains. She was later diagnosed with disc prolapse in my neck and osteoarthritis in one knee and also started to suffer with severe memory loss. Gail was later told later on in 2008 that she had both Dyslexia and Dyscalculia.
“It all became clear why I was failing with my words and numbers. I was able to listen to information but unable to retrieve it. Studying was becoming more difficult by the day. However, I was given my own learning facilitator Pam Lilley at Edge Hill and this helped me progress so much.”
However, Gail was in for further setbacks after splitting from her partner of 10 years, her little boy being diagnosed with a chronic illness, losing her grandma and 6 months later her father and her mother suffering a stroke. She was also attacked by a former friend and then in 2011 was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, a long-term condition which causes pain all over the body, and she was forced to use crutches. The final challenge was losing her friend in June 2012, which made the last year so hard.
She said: “My time was filled with so many hospital appointments with myself, my little boy and my mother. Again it threw up so many challenges for me and it knocked my confidence so much. But with the encouragement of my tutors at Edge Hill and my learning facilitator I really fought back. In a way, I felt like I was studying the perfect degree because I was almost practising psychology on myself. It was the knowledge I was learning on my degree that helped me through my own personal circumstances.”
After overcoming all of her difficulties, Gail graduates with a 2:2 today and has been offered a placement at the Ainsdale Pain Clinic, a voluntary self-help group for chronic pain sufferers.
“Getting support at the right time is crucial,” said Gail. “Edge Hill University have been wonderful and have understood me despite all my difficulties. My degree has given me a purpose and I want to use my experiences to help others.”