Today I watched as a bee wiggled around on the top stair of my patio as if its wings were broken.
It was struggling to get up on its feet as it laid there on its back like a worm pulled out from dirt and washed onto the pavement. For some reason, I felt so compelled to watch it, as if I understood its struggle — pulling itself up several times, only to fall on its back again. Suddenly, it jumped on its legs and raced down the stairs, only to fall every time it reached a ledge. At the last stair, it stood tall, finally reaching its goal of flying away.
I thought to myself, “This is how it feels to suffer through depression while in college.” College is difficult. Going to college with a mental disorder is even more difficult. Anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, whatever it may be — the added stress could potentially be enough to push someone past the breaking point.
I know this from experience. I know how it feels to be pressured, to not only maintain mental stability, but to also somehow manage finishing assignments and achieving good grades. It's like someone telling you to fly when you're lying on your back, feet in the air, wings crushed on the floor beneath you.
College is about learning new life lessons, taking in knowledge and receiving an education to be used in the future. Whatever it may be — be it calculus, sociology, economics or psychology — all of these amazing opportunities to learn are right there at your fingertips. For those with a mental disorder, our fingertips seem to be moistened with sweat from anxiety. All this new material just seems to slip out of our grip, no matter how hard we try to grasp.
I can't do it. It can't be done. You're stupid. You've wasted time. You won't get a good grade. It's pointless.
These are the thoughts that run through the disordered mind. Even when there are moments of hope, this only seems to make it harder. You start to believe you can do it, and then suddenly you fall back down. That hope breaks and shatters into pieces, scattered all in your backpack and desk.
One reading missed, two readings, a paper and lectures you couldn't pull yourself out of bed in the morning for. It piles up like the overpriced textbooks collecting dust on your bookshelf. Despite this, you need to keep trying. You get back up from under the covers, from falling down, from failing.
There is potential for those with a mental disorder to complete the years of work needed to achieve their degree. Yes, it will be a difficult challenge. I have managed to complete assignments and take detailed, organized notes. I've received straight A's during a quarter of taking six classes and transferred into a top university. Despite this, I've also failed classes, dropped out of a few and have even decided to take a quarter off because my depression had reached a point at which my safety would be at risk.
Giving up is never the answer, though. I don't drop classes because I want to quit. I'm not withdrawing from a quarter because I want to give up and get rid of it completely. I just need some wiggle room. I want to feel the wings on my back so I can fly once again.
So, I'm taking my time. I'm allowing myself to lie on my back, to acknowledge my weaknesses and to try again.
My advice for those suffering depression while in college is to accept their disorder. It is a part of you, but it does not determine your worth or capability. Remember that just because you have a disability, does not mean you can't achieve the same as those who do not.
It may take more time, more effort, more strength and a little extra help from others, but when you finally do reach the end, it'll be completely worth it. When you finally do get off your back and push yourself off that ledge to fly, you f*cking soar.