I am a college student at a top university. I also struggle with mood, anxiety, and dissociative disorders. This list reflects (some of) my experiences. It is what I want to send to my professor who is being stingy with extensions and far from understanding. But I can’t. Feel free to reblog, share, heck - even email out to your teachers. If you do, please let me know how that goes. And of course, please add your own if you have more to add.
I am a mentally ill college student:
It means that no matter how much sleep you manage to get, you can never guarantee being awake enough or focused enough for work.
It means not knowing if the same coffee drink will do nothing, work as it is supposed to, or make you anxious and jittery for hours.
It means checking every syllabus for the lateness and attendance policies not because you are lazy but because you have to prepare for the worst.
It means that pulling an all nighter can ruin your ability to think, sleep, and function for days to weeks and having to make that choice anyway.
It means feeling like your excuses aren’t valid because they are all in your head, and it means getting that fear validated over and over.
It means that when anything goes slightly wrong, everybody doubts if you deserve to be there, if you should be where you are, if you should get this kind of education, if you are “well” enough to engage with the rest of society.
It means fearing for your freedom, your financial, familial, and social support, and your health care in ways you probably can’t imagine.
It means that the counseling center looks at you funny and somewhat frightened when you ask for help because they are trained for “run of the mill” college problems and you are out of their league.
It means not being able to stay up when you need to and not being able to sleep even when you can. It means working not only when there’s time in your schedule, but when that happens to match up with when your brain is able to. It means not being master of your own time management.
It means not being able to explain this to any professor because they won’t look at you the same, hold your opinions in the same light, even if they do take you seriously.
It means that when I mean to take an hour long nap or a 20 minute break, I can’t be sure that those times will stay that way.
It means spending some evenings you know you should be working, even wanting to be working, convincing yourself to move, or that you are actually there, or just quieting your brain. It means using distractions as necessity.
It doesn’t mean just being overwhelmed every once in a while. It doesn’t mean I fooled around and spent too much time slacking off or partying. It doesn’t mean I just had a sucky week. It doesn’t mean I am letting my social problems interfere with my academics.
It means I have to keep things in mind constantly that you never have to think about. It means I have to make choices that you’ll never have to make, it means that when I am down to the wire, it is because I am pushing my self to my limit just to be there.
Because it doesn’t mean, not even remotely, that I am not devoted, that I’m not interest, that I’m not in love with learning. That I don’t want to impress you, to get my work done on time, to do a great job. It doesn’t mean I don’t deserve this. I doesn’t mean I should be locked away. It doesn’t mean I should have to pay for extra semesters of schooling out of pocket that no one will give me scholarship or tuition benefit for.
It means you should, probably, work with me, give me the time I need. Realize that your assessments should be based on my understanding, not my time management. It means you should try to understand.
I’ve reblogged this before but it’s especially relevant tonight.