I am officially taking medical leave from school for this semester. And possibly next. I still don’t know how I feel about that, but I do know that I really don’t want to close the door on my opportunity for grad school. Terry and I talked this past weekend after there was a massive blow-up exchange between him and his dad. He doesn’t want to feel stuck somewhere. Honestly, neither do I. Part of the agreement of my taking this semester off is I begin my book and keep up on this blog regularly. The goal is to use this blog as part of my personal memoir, part current events, and part activism for the mental ill community. Mostly because I hate believing that “people like me” have limits. I really honestly believed for a short time last week that I would under no circumstances be able to make it through a graduate program, simply because of my mental illness. That’s crap. All of my role models have done huge things, Kay Redfield Jameson has a doctorate, Elyn Saks is a lawyer, Ken Steele started a program to help people in need in New York. What I am really passionate about is helping the mentally ill community.
There is a teacher at school who has changed his opinion of those with mental illness and testing accommodations 180 degrees. I have been thanked for that by no less than three people. It was my ethical integrity, my desire to do things the right way, that caused him to change his opinion of people in my situation. That is how I want to make my mark on the world, changing people’s opinions of what mental illness looks like. I want to be a role model for others on a large scale. Terry reminded me that getting my PhD can open a lot of doors for how I become that role model. In the meantime I am starting a book, writing a blog, and studying basic chemistry to try and regain some control over my brain. I still have hope for my future, even though sometimes it doesn’t seem like it. I won’t allow myself to get stuck again.
The last few weeks I have been very nearly psychotic. There has been a serious debate happening in my head about whether or not I should go to inpatient care for my medication help after getting told on Christmas Eve that I would not be able to find anyone to take my insurance. Fortunately, it turns out my insurance company switched subcontractors so I have not only found a therapist I like, I also have immediately gotten into the psychiatrist. Last year was so frustrating, no one should have to go through the mess I was trying to handle during my first fall semester.
There has been good news on the school end of things too. I’m on probation for my GPA due to the C I earned in my inorganic class. The only punishment I’m receiving is my recruitment bonus is disappearing. Provided I get my GPA back up in the winter semester my situation will be reevaluated and I will be taken off probation. I passed the physical chemistry proficiency test so I only have one more proficiency class to take and pass. Plus, I’m now assigned to a lab so the stress associated with waiting to be accepted is gone. I know what I will be working on, and all of my classes pertain to my research. Which mostly means if I don’t manage to pass this semester I have no business being in grad school anyway.
I’ve decided to go completely digital this semester. I take hand written notes in class, but my texts are ebooks & the PowerPoint presentations will stay on my computer as well. If I’m going to embrace technology there is no point in half-assing. I’ll just get confused and fall behind that way.
Mostly I’m just excited to have a therapist that is willing to work with me on my inability to pass my tests. I studied for two weeks for the organic and inorganic proficiency tests and still failed them. There is a really high probability that the medication being incorrect is only part of the problem, and I’ve instead freaked myself out so badly about failing that my brain has decided that is the only option.
From what I can tell my first hell week at school was unsuccessful. I think I failed my Metabolism exam spectacularly. Which could be seen as a good thing (if you’re going to fail, fail with gusto), but in the interest of passing my first year of grad school it clearly is not a positive step. The first cume looks like it should be better, but only time will tell. I take that test on Wednesday at three. Friday morning is my inorganic test, Monday is the day my second analytical paper is due. Frankly, it sounds like I have a second hell week next week. I’m hoping it goes better than the last one. I’ve started keeping lists of appointments on my school calender to keep myself straight.
Picking an adviser has been causing all kinds of stress. I love so many different things about chemistry that I’ve gotten my brain all tied in knots over how and who to choose. I think the two best pieces of advice I got were 1) I’m being too nice. If I want something I should fight for it, and 2) I need decisions too early. I need to talk to lots of people and get lots of opinions before a decision should be made. I’m still going to be much calmer once I have a lab group. Everything is so exciting and new, which is really awesome. It’ll still feel a lot better once things are established and research has started.
I’m really grateful to have my medicine back, That should help my concentration. On top of that there will be a super strict schedule starting. This needs to be treated like a job, and that means 8-5 and overtime. I really missed the ball on that in the beginning, but I hate to fail and won’t make that mistake again.