Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Trying to manage college

Today I met with my professor, who teaches both my classes, to see what I can do to remain in her classes and explain my situation. I am not sure how this went. I mean, I might have given too much information, because I was trying to explain that I am not normally this way anymore, but I do not normally go into these kinds of conversations with professors. Actually, I don't have these conversations with a lot of people. But it is too far gone now to not have the conversation with the professor if I am going to avoid dropping out of school. She was very nice and understanding. She asked me questions about my medication changes, and I tried to convey exactly what is going with them. I explained I am working with my doctor, and about the Latuda. She said how I seemed to be doing so well at the beginning of the semester, and I explained that I really was not having the kinds of problems I'm having right now at the beginning of the semester, so that is why. She said I could have the option of putting my tests off, but of course, if you put them off then they get closer to when the other tests are and when papers are due, and things. Therefore, I am not sure it would make sense to put them off. But I did put one of them off, which I would have been taking today. I said I would go ahead and take the other one, for the other class, next week, in the disabilities office. I don't think taking it in the disabilities office is really going to make a lick of difference, though. I am pretty sure there is no way I can study at all for either of these tests, and I am pretty sure that fact isn't going to improve by next week. I asked about getting an Incomplete for a grade, which is something I have done before, but she said that it was too early in the semester for that. You can only get an Incomplete for a grade after you've done half the work for the class, and with both these classes, half the work hasn't been due yet.

The way things are going, I might be forced to withdraw, but that would be a big problem. One of the reasons it would be a problem is that this university now has a strict rule about how many times you can withdraw, and I have already withdrawn from many classes at the community college, particularly when I was not on antipsychotics yet. To further complicate things, I get financial aid and I already used up significant money on tuition plus expenses, and if I withdraw I'd be faced with repaying this money as well not being able to get financial aid easily next semester, if I came back next semester, or next year, if I came back then. Also, if I withdraw, my student loans will go into repayment mode, and I can't afford to start repaying them. So because of these reasons, I really do not want to withdraw. Also, I really do not want to withdraw because I am really going to be disappointed and depressed about having to withdraw again if it comes to that. I have taken classes every fall and spring, as well as some summer semesters, since 2008 without withdrawing or getting and Incomplete. It is really not an acceptable to me that I would have to revert to withdrawing again. I do not want to feel like a failure or give up.

I don't know what I am going to do. If it comes to the point that I have to withdraw, then it is not the end of the world, I guess, but I really want to avoid that. It is just impossible to think well right now. Someone gave a presentation in my class and I have no idea what she talked about since I couldn't focus on it. It's too bad that the person giving the presentation was the same person who takes notes for me in the class, because I took very few notes of this myself!

Right now, I am in the library. It's pretty ridiculous to be in a library right now. I mean, it's not like I can read anything. But I thought about it for some length of time (I don't know how long), while sitting in a student lounge, and finally decided that I would force myself to go to the library and force myself to try to study whether or not it is entirely futile to do so, because part of me keeps thinking that if I try hard enough I will be able to overcome my inability to focus. I suppose you can overcome it to some degree, some of the time, but when things are like they are right now, it is pretty impossible. I can't even follow Facebook anymore, so I don't bother looking at people's posts while I'm at work. I used to spend a lot of time looking at articles that people posted links to via Facebook. But it's not like I can read a lot of articles right now. Plus, I don't really care about much of anything other than my inability to function. I am normally not so focused on myself and my problems, but it is really difficult to think about other things at this point, because of how difficult things are, and how hard it is to do anything the way I would normally be doing it if I was not this way.

I wrote down some observations about things and came to the conclusion that going off the Latuda has definitely not improved me. It is pretty obvious now that being on that medication was not the cause of this situation. I mean, the medication wasn't helping me, but it was also probably not making me any worse.

I wonder how anybody ever gets through college like this. I did get an AA degree finally last year, but I couldn't do that now. I wonder how people get their bachelor's degrees or master's degrees or PhD's while they're psychotic. The answer is, probably, most people don't. There are a few exceptions, like the people with Schizophrenia such as John Nash, or Elyn Saks who got advanced degrees while being psychotic. But most people can't do that. I don't know how they could do that. At the same time, I know that the last semester I was in school, which was this past spring, I did perfectly fine without trouble. I also was doing pretty well at the beginning of this semester. So this is not a permanent situation of being stuck inside cement (that's what it feels like), unable to do things. But I really wish that there was a quick fix for it so I could get through these next few weeks of school. I don't care if I can't take classes next semester; that's fine. I just want to be able to finish this semester, without quitting. But my brain is not cooperating with what I wish it to do.


  1. Hey,

    I'm a full-time doctoral student (with schizophrenia) and it's definitely incredibly difficult to manage (a lot of the time). One thing you might consider is negotiating alternative assignments with your instructor (which often qualifies as a reasonable accommodation under the ADA)so that you can at least finish enough of the work for the term to get incompletes. Your instructor may be very well intentioned but not fully aware of your rights under the ADA. Withdrawing is always horribly demoralizing.... You also might want to hook up with folks at the university counseling center (if it's a good one) because they can sometimes pull strings others can't.

  2. Hang in there! I am in a MS program and doing well now (I have schizoaffective). During my undergrad, I dropped out of college for a time before returning to complete and graduate.

    I don't know what advice to give other than to say, try not to be too hard on yourself!!

  3. I wanted to share this link with you:

    It's a collection of stories from people who have physical and/or cognitive disorders (in the field of philosophy). They discuss how their disabilities affect their work, things they are scared of, and their frustration at not having the field accommodate their conditions.

    I couldn't find a post talking about psychosis or schizoaffective disorder, but some talk about chronic depression and lots talk about concentration issues.

    I thought it might be helpful for you to know that there are lots of people out there who are also struggling (and succeeding!) at juggling their health with their academics/job.

  4. College is hard enough without mental illnesses on top of it. "MS" seems to have a pretty good idea of how to get more accommodations made for you, like the 'alternative assignments' that might be easier to tackle with the decreased ability to focus. Best wishes for you.
    Adventures in Anxiety Land

  5. I have physical chronic issues like fibro and dysautonomia and am having the same problems. I can't even imagine having mental illnesses on top of what I'm already dealing with. You're very strong, and I hope you realize that. <3

  6. Wow! Let me tell you something. I accomplished 3 degrees at SPC. Throughout the time in college I struggled with psychosis. I pushed myself to do my very best at accomplishing my goals. Even though I went to college I struggled with this horrifying illness.I am very happy about my accomplishments. The next thing I want is a job. One that lasts. Jennifer my pdoc said I am a high functioning schizophrenic. I always do my best.

  7. MS - Thank you for your kind advice and inspiration. You are very correct; withdrawal IS demoralizing. I am trying to avoid it.

    Jose - Than you as well!

    SLG - I love that website. Thank you!

    Blue Morpho - yeah it is hard but might be manageable.

    Rachel - Yes it is hard, but thank you for your supportive words.

    Countess Lucinda - where do you know me from?


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