On Thursday, my Capstone class professor happily informed us that as we collect all the work we’ve ever done for our major, we’d be going through “your best work and best years of your lives so far.” Almost the entirety of university has been the worst years of my life so far, ever.
The only (past) times I felt smart, got decent grades, and had self-motivation during uni were Fall 2012-Spring 2013, and Spring 2016.
In Fall 2014, I lost 22 pounds and my eyebrows due to sheer academic stress, caused by a single professor and her “teaching”. At the end of that 3-month span, I was 5 feet 3 inches tall and only 98 pounds.
I made wonderful friends during Fall 2014, but during Spring 2015, the following semester, we met the Perfect Disaster. He and I aggravated each other’s problems, and jeopardized my relationship with these friends, but miraculously I managed to salvage those friendships. I allow the Perfect Disaster to stay in my life only as a scar upon my memory, a reminder not to repeat those mistakes.
In April 2014, I confessed to my family how I was. How I could feel myself being a burden and nuisance and self-pitying, but couldn’t stop myself. How I often felt sad or empty or out-of-body for no reason at all. They took me to a doctor and I was officially diagnosed with Depression, Anxiety, and also borderline for Thyroid problems. My parents DO try, but one has the same issues as me, diagnosis-wise, so whenever my issues arise they make both of ours worse. My parent had been getting better before I confessed that I had problems. So they were getting worse and couldn’t be around me and my problems, feeling my illness is their fault. Family guilt complexes.
I took meds for a while, but they didn’t really work for me. The doctor’s solution to this snafu was to increase my intake level as soon as minimum waiting time was met, and just safe enough not to cause toxicity. Even after, I spent summer 2015 crying myself into excessive sleep, and crying myself awake. Another 3-month span. I honestly cannot recall anything else I did that whole period of time.
I didn’t do anything all summer, but I didn’t feel ready for school. Yet I also didn’t feel able to do a job. But I justify (as an M.O.) my not having a job for now as long as I am concentrating on school. I reconciled with myself to try school part-time, but parents pushed for full-time, and I was trying to turn pretending into being better, so I went with it.
By Fall 2015, I was all too much for everyone, especially me. As a result, I had a breakup with my bestie #2 about a week before my 21st birthday, as well as my longtime mentee, and my “sis-in-law”. I truly didn’t want any celebrations, but my mom had been trying to arrange a surprise party for me. I appreciated the gesture, but because my mom doesn’t know how to plan things, she gave up the surprise and made me plan the party, which I really didn’t want right then. But it was too late, because she’d already told my friends about it. A best friend breakup is just as, if not harder, than a romantic breakup, let me say.
I started skipping some classes and attending but not doing the HW in others. My own fault. One day while I was skipping class, I had the thought that since I felt like I needed to hide issues in order to allow myself to continue living with my family (since I have no job and am financially dependent for shelter and school costs) and couldn’t go see a pro (b/c parents would have to pay, and then be reminded of my issues, a problem that literally is just mine and comes from me), that I’d go to my university’s psych counsel.
My Shakespeare professor was the only one I managed to tell about any of this, while it was going on. She tried really hard to help me. She suggested that I should probably get a note from my doctor to explain the situation, so I could drop her class and re-take it once I was better, without her having to give me an F for super-late withdrawal. She gave me tissues and patted my non-snotty hand. But with the counseling, I was feeling better and motivated and I thought “I’d rather go down swinging than give in, and I’m ready to fight.”
That DID help, but it was too late to save my academics. After that, I felt ashamed because I overestimated myself, and really stupid, so I stopped going to class again. The worst part of it is, all my Shakespeare professor asked of me was that I keep her posted on how I was doing. I was so ashamed, I didn’t even do that. Someone so kind, such a simple request, and I just didn’t. I failed 3/5 classes, and was just shy of the borderline for academic probation.
I did still keep seeing my counselor, though. My counselor was a really cool dude and talking to him DID make me feel better. I decided that the following semester, I’d really just do things part-time, to make sure I do well in all classes, so as not to waste more money and another semester. It’s more important to do something well the first time than to rush through shoddily just to get something done.
However, while the part-time plan was solid for getting myself back into a safe range of academic standing, I had to risk my little recovered sense of security and sanity, in exchange for uncertainty, self-doubt, and academics, because “Counseling services are only provided for full-time students”–Including psychological counseling, unless you’re suicidal.
(Not being sarcastic here): Thankfully, while I’ve had suicidal thoughts and in general contemplated death (IMO it’s foolish and narcissistic not to, at least once in your life, contemplate death) I have never seriously considered acting upon any suicidal thoughts.
I understand that the school has limited time/money/resources, and it’s the system I’m upset at, not my counselor. He was a student himself, he didn’t make the rules. But I think it’s real shitty that only full-time or suicidal students can get psychological counseling.
I also had been continuing to visit the doctor. And I felt somewhat better, until the panic about my classes for Fall 2015 semester. So, upon advice of Shakespeare professor, well before the end of the semester, I set up an appointment with my doctor. She had to cancel on me, due to family reasons. That’s fine, I’m not suicidal, I wasn’t having a life-threatening crisis, and these things happen. But she was booked for another 3 ½ weeks. That was cutting it really close to my timeline. Again, that’s on me for not doing better, and for overestimating myself. I knew the school might not accept a note at that point anyway, but as long as I had one before finals, they would at least know that I wasn’t trying to come up with a retroactive excuse for bad grades on my finals. I’m not a cheat. Honor is in my top 3 values. So, I took a reschedule for 8pm, the night before a 7:15am final. (Again, I decided that even though I was guaranteed to fail, I would fail having put in some effort.) However, the doctor canceled on me AGAIN, this time with the explanation that it was kind of late in the day for an appointment. Which I knew. WHY HAVE SUCH AN OPTION IN THE FIRST PLACE, THEN?
When I finally got to see the doctor, two weeks after the second canceled appointment, my appointment started late because she continued small talk with the previous patient (I know because I was sent in to the exam room, then sat there waiting). When she actually came over to me, she gave me the standard physical, which took about 5 minutes, went through a checklist on her computer with me for 3 minutes, then spent 2 minutes trying to set up a follow-up appointment with me, for the next month. That was it. A whole month trying to see her, for 10 minutes, to result in seeing her the following month. (Being sarcastic here:) What kind of healthCARE is that?!
After that appointment, I lost all faith in my doctor. In between the time I was waiting for and finally got to see the doctor, I entered a romantic relationship. The Big Cheese was lovely and motivating and understanding. He helped me concentrate and make goals, but also helped me re-learn good distractions, like playing and laughing and having hobbies, and to take care of myself as well as others. Also during this time, the increased dosage of my meds was giving me severe, consistent headaches every time I took it. So I decided to quit both my meds and my doctor cold turkey. Amazingly, I didn’t have any medical problems* after that, what do you know!
[*Wordplay. I am still dealing presently with my lack of eyebrows and healthy weight. Also, going cold turkey on meds is usually a BAD IDEA. DO RESEARCH FIRST. Most of the time your body needs you to build up, and go back down, GRADUALLY.]
The Big Cheese officially broke up with me in January, a week before the start of the Spring 2016 semester. After that we had an unofficial relationship that was pretty similar, just with reduced time together. Then that all stopped, seemingly for good so far, since late May. But we ended on understanding, good terms. I consider this to have been my first healthy romantic relationship, so I don’t regret it and hope that he doesn’t either, and that he’ll be ready to be friends again sometime soon.
Even though I miss him tons, at the time of break-up I think I had a reasonable amount of sadness that people experience at the end of a meaningful relationship. But in the meantime, I still had those same wonderful friends I’d made during my initial decline semester, and some new ones in the class I’d just started post-breakup.
My bestie #2 and I reconciled in early June. I think the time apart was actually helpful for both of us. We have better understandings of human psyche, and are carefully re-building our relationship.
So when my Capstone professor says “best years” and it’s my turn for her to stare me down to try and reject my silent refusal to submit to saying a falsehood– she’s not going to win the siege. But when she claims we’ve done our best work so far during our time in college–although she’s referring to growth in writing essays and reading only–I may not entirely disagree.