Starting school again was something I didn’t think through for long. I just suddenly felt ready to go back and I submitted a reapplication form (as I had been gone long enough where I was no longer a student). I needed to submit some paperwork, go to the doctor to get some shots, and the next thing I knew, I was registered to begin in March 2018.
But before heading back I did one important thing – I cut my hair. I’ve never believed in the whole changing your appearance or hair as a way of new beginnings. It was just that I’d been thinking about it since October and then one day I just woke up and gave my mom the scissors. We cut it at home, short enough where I couldn’t tie it in a ponytail, and I started classes with a new look
And I felt very good. I’m actually thinking of cutting it again
This time I also felt more mentally prepared. I knew that my studio courses set me off so I decided to only take lecture courses. I signed up for a history of animation class and illustration foundations (in the time I was gone, the school created an illustration minor). They were both classes I could apply to my major and they seemed stress-free. I ended up passing both classes with good grades and that made me confident in starting some studio courses!
I signed up for digital foundations and color theory, which were classes that I had failed, and intermediate paint, which I hadn’t been able to take before because I’d had to retake beginning paint. I also signed up for a history course on the first world war because I just couldn’t walk away from wanting to study history. Of course, I didn’t just stop there. Because I was finally able to apply for FAFSA, I went ahead and applied to stay on campus and I also learned I’d been accepted to a trip to Japan. This was honestly the BEST setup I could think of.
One of my stressors before was lack of time and lack of sleep. Because I had to wake up super early to get to class, then leave late if I wanted to bypass traffic, not to mention having to commute to jobs, I didn’t have the chance to dedicate as much time as I should have to my studies. By staying on campus, things would be different and I took notice of it really quickly. I was getting enough sleep, I could work on projects on the weekends, during my down times in the week, and I was even being healthier.
I suppose it also helped that I wasn’t working. I decided to focus all my energies on school, especially since I didn’t have to worry about commuting or food money (included in on-campus living)
It was perfect…up until it wasn’t. Luckily I’d learned my lesson!
The interesting and frustrating thing about college is that, as students, we hardly ever know where we stand in the classroom. Even though we have midterm grades, we oftentimes don’t have assignments until after midterms or if we do, chances are they haven’t been graded. I tried to keep communications with all my professors this time around, something I’d never done before. I’d stop by to see them, ask how I was doing in class, and how I could improve
My feedback was very positive and I was super glad I was keeping up. I mean, I was juggling 5 classes! I learned so many new things in all of my classes, which I thought was great. I was still a bit iffy about how teachers hovered around the classroom but I found ways around it. Still, I also pushed myself to seek out my professors when I wanted feedback and I even started participating on a semi-regular basis in ALL of my classes!
So imagine my surprise when I started to feel the anxiety hitting a little after midterms.
I tried to work things out myself. Whenever I felt super anxious, I decided to go home and just remove myself from school, which was my stressor. Then I would head back to school the next day or two. If I couldn’t go home because I had to work on homework, then I would go on walks and just try to block everything out. This seemed to work up until it didn’t
I started to miss a few classes for the same reasons as before but I noticed I was only missing classes for art. I lost interest in my work because I couldn’t figure out how to move forward with projects. It also didn’t help that I felt like one of my art teachers would purposefully call me out on things. For example, one time I had to meet with another professor and I ended up coming to class late. I know, my fault, but then the next class I walk in on time and the teacher was like ‘oh you decided to come to class today’.
It irritated me because there were others who missed class FREQUENTLY and yet she never said anything about it…
I knew how things would pan out if I left things as they were and I was tired of failing. This time I decided to seek help! I went back to the counseling office at my school and when they asked why I was there, I told them I hadn’t been here before but that I needed someone to talk with. I figured they’d know what to tell me and they did! They set up a phone appointment for me and soon after I was in contact with one of their doctors.
I was asked some questions and then the doctor said he wanted me to start seeing a therapist and psychiatrist as soon as possible. With a request that my doctors be women, I started soon after
After how simple this process was, I felt like the time I’d run away was an over-exaggeration on my part but I also know that it’s because of my theatre job, where I picked myself up and in a sense, recreated myself, that I was even able to find the strength to seek help. I would even say that it’s because I failed so many times that I realized I NEEDED support, that I couldn’t do it alone.
In fact, when I first went to go see both my doctors and I told them about why I was there and a few things about my physical health (which was bad, apparently it’s not good to lose 25lb in just a few weeks), I felt…pathetic but also relieved that I could finally tell someone about what I was holding in. Weak but also proud that I did something I never would have considered doing before. I was also incredibly surprised at how much support I was able to find. I had always felt like I had to do things alone but there were people here, strangers, willing to help me out with everything they could.
And they helped me out A LOT, even if I only saw them a handful of times before I had to go out to Japan. By the end of the semester, I had decided to start taking medication and I had a follow-up plan to see them when the next quarter began
I think this is a good place to stop! I was originally going to jump to the next post in this story, which is going to come out on Wednesday but then I remembered I had a big moment of anxiety while I was in Japan. Did you guys want to hear about it? It would be a relatively short post. Also, we’re closing in on both Megan and Kristina’s first posts this month!! Expect them on Thursday and Friday
I know seeking help can be tough. As you have read, I severely delayed it. What are some of your stories on seeking help? Was it tough? How did you feel after?
This is a general disclaimer. I am not a doctor or professional of any kind. I am just sharing and talking about my own experiences. If you are having thoughts of suicide or self-harm, please seek help! You can receive help at your nearest ER or by calling the national suicide prevention lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. If there is someone that you trust to help you, also contact them to seek help! Remember that you are important, one of a kind, and to take care. Self-care is important for everyone!