Horses fluent in the wind,
I almost went to a somewhat elite institution as a student above the "traditional age" when I was 24. And that was when I became psychotic. So, instead of getting to Northampton, I got into the Hannah Moore Homeless Shelter in Maryland. After my time at that shelter ran out, I ended up in my car, living. I was then offered a room in my online friend's former boyfriend's condo, and I ended up living there for three years. When the three years ended, I wandered about, never able to keep a roof over my head.
I lost my dreams. I had been an English major. I had a professor, who I'm still friends with now, in 1996, tell me at my community college in Florida (the one I also go to now) that I was definitely smart enough to go to a better school. I didn't believe him. He said, "Did you ever take the SAT? I bet you would blow away the verbal section." I had never had parents who cared if I took the SAT or not, and so, I never had ended up doing that. In fact I skipped my last year of high school, and got a GED instead. But after this professor encouraged me to do it, just to see how I'd do, I took the SAT. I got an 800 on the verbal section, which is the highest possible score. (I did not do so well on the math, though!). This actually amazed me, because it meant that I might have the requirements to go to a decent college after all, despite years battling depression, anorexia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and Fibromyalgia Plus More.
Then I ended up moving to Maryland, (because I couldn't afford to live on my own and couldn't stay with my mother, so was given a roof over my head by my grandparents) where I met a professor who ran the honors program at the community college I attended there, and she convinced me to apply to Smith College, a school I had dreamed of going to, because I was a feminist and going to a women's college like that was something I thought would be an excellent experience. I had first learned of Smith by reading Plath as a depressed teenager, and I was intrigued by the quality of the education there, not just by the fact that my favorite depressed poet went there. It's an excellent school, and I could see myself blossoming there. They had five libraries. It was the place where I belonged. I fell in love with the school when I visited it. I was beyond thrilled to get admitted. It was a real dream come true.
But my mind couldn't hack it. While I was supposed to be planning to go to that college, I was delusional, thinking that people had abused me and making a lot of accusations that got me estranged from most of my family, which is how I ended up homeless in a city where I have dozens of relatives. I was doing crazy, manic things and I was really out of it. Then it got worse, and worse, and worse, over the following few years, while I was terribly paranoid, acutely psychotic, and never getting any real help except for some brief hospital stays where I was never correctly diagnosed. I reverted to self-injury. I rarely ate. I ended up in a lot of bad situations. I was raped. I didn't have support. I didn't have friends except online, and then most of those friends got sick of me and my problems, and told me so, then abruptly left my life.
The thing is, for the past few years, since 2005, I have had treatment and I have gotten progressively (to some degree) better. I have been able to return to the original community college, and get my AA degree. This was no small feat for me. It took years of work, tutoring, note takers from the office for students with disabilities, and it took a lot of time and effort. When I got that degree, I was really thrilled. But it still was not enough. I wanted a Master's degree. I still feel inadequate that I don't have a Master's degree. I still feel lost and empty because I'm not doing anything I really want to do in my life as far as work goes, and I don't think that I can.
Right now I'm at a crossroads. I could stay in the Bachelor's program I am in at the community college, or I could, if I am even accepted (which I may not be), go to a university. That would take a lot of work on managing money and transportation, but it might be possible. What I don't know is if my brain could manage it. I'd have to get accommodations, and I'd probably have to go through the disabilities office to get permission to attend college part-time there. Even if I did all this, and my car managed the drive and kept running (I recently put $1,000 into my pathetic car, and this university is an hour away), I don't know that I could do it.
My therapist suggested talking to a career counselor at the school. I work at the school, and I know who the career counselors are, and I don't want to talk to them about having a mental illness, and whether or not my brain can hack the degree I want. I don't think they would have any answers for me at all. I don't think anybody would. But I'm afraid I'm in a program for a degree that will never land me a job I really like, and what is the point of doing this if I can't do something I like in the end? I may never be able to work full time, or, on the other hand, I may mange it some day. But I know that what I need is a job I can enjoy at some level and have an income that would hopefully get me out of poverty. I'm not quite sure what to do.
I know that I only have this one life to live, and a lot of it has been lost to serious mental illness, so I want to make the most of what I have left, and not allow this illness to rule my life any more than it has to. I know that there were legitimate reasons to why I never went to Smith College, or any other great college, why I never got an advanced degree, why I do not go to college full time, why I cannot work full time right now, but I want, I want, I want so much more than this out of my life. I am so tired of feeling like a pathetic loser because of what I have done being so pale in comparison to what I meant to do. I am so tired of feeling like I cannot speak to people who have advanced degrees because they will look down on me. I am so tired of being unfulfilled.
But maybe I am doing the best I can, and maybe trying to do much more would be a total disaster. I have gotten into a groove with the little job I have, the school I go to, the apartment I just moved into, the injections at the community mental health center every two weeks......Soon, I'll be losing the supports of my case manager and my therapist thanks to the crappy budget of the community mental health center. Soon, I'll have to be even more alert to my symptoms, on guard to them, carefully monitoring how the meds are doing because there will be no one else checking up on me. So I'm scared to make any major changes. I'm scared to try to go to the university. I'm very anxious, and have been for quite some time, about this.
But there is this Ani Difranco song called, "Swan Dive", which I have loved for many years. These are some of the lyric
.......But I've had a lack of inhibition
I've had a loss of perspective
I've had a little bit to drink
And it's making me think
That I can jump ship and swim
That the ocean will hold me
That there's got to be more
Than this boat I'm in
They can call me crazy if I fail
All the chance that I need is one-in-a-million,
And they can call me brilliant if I succeed
Gravity is nothing to me
I'm moving at the speed of sound
I'm just gonna to get my feet wet until I drown
I teeter between tired
And really, really tired
I'm wiped and I'm wired
But I guess that's just as well
Cuz I've built my own empire
Out of car tires and chicken wire
And now I'm queen of my own compost heap
And I'm getting used to the smell
So what to do?
The title of this post is from "The EyeMote", and my first email address in the late 90's was firstname.lastname@example.org.