In a previous blog entry, I wrote about my struggles during the first year and a half of college before I began treatment. This entry will be about my struggles after my treatment began. Just because I was under treatment didn’t mean my problems were over.
During the last three years of my collegiate career, I never achieved the quality of grades I had during my first year of college. I also changed over to a different major. I originally started college as a pre-pharmacy student. After a year and a half of struggling with my mental illness as well as my classes, my grades were bad enough that I wasn’t going to be getting into pharmacy school. I needed a change.
I switched to a business management major, which was a surprise to my family. I had never taken any business classes in high school. I didn’t have much of an aptitude for sales, and I was quite an introvert. So to my family and friends the move didn’t make much sense. But to me it made a great deal of sense.
In my line of thinking at the time, I wanted to be able to be employable with a good job as soon as I graduated from college. Even though I was really passionate about literature and history, I always figured I could read all the history books and classics of literature on my own time when I wasn’t studying for my business classes. With my best friend being a history education student helping me out with history and classical literature books, which is exactly what I did.
I admit with this “Dual Study Program” with my studying business classes officially by day and reading my classical literature and history books late at night and on the weekends, I didn’t have much time for outside socialization. I had my small core group of friends, and I also made it a point to be friendly as possible to as many fellow students as possible.
As the last three years of college went on I slowly picked up a few more friends and gradually went to more social activities. There were a few music bands on campus that occasionally played weekend concerts that I went to. They were pretty much cover bands that also played some of their own material. I made a few friends with some of the band members through that.
I also made a few friends through some of my business clubs like Students In Free Enterprise. I also went to many of my college’s home baseball and basketball games. I preferred the baseball games because of the more laid-back atmosphere of baseball and I had a few friends on the team. I also made a few friends through games of softball, ultimate Frisbee, and flag football. I wasn’t a fast runner but could be a vicious blocker.
I bring all of this up to show that I was able to have the average college experience in spite of having a mental illness. There were a few things I obviously couldn’t do, namely the drinking scene because of my medications. But I wasn’t in college to drink and drug. I was there to get a degree.
I didn’t work during the school year because of the stress of going to school full time, having a mental illness, and having a job would have just been too much. So I worked in the summers instead. It also helped that I had a good academic scholarship based on my grades. Even though I wasn’t getting straight A’s, I was still managing to do well. And I was enjoying the college experience at the same time.
A strange thing happened during my last year of college, I became interested in writing. I had been reading voraciously the previously two years, so I suppose that writing would only be the next logical step.
All of the struggles, problems, victories, and defeats of five years of college came to a culmination on May 8, 2004. That was the day I graduated from college. Graduating from college meant that I had overcome the problems of mental illness and accomplished my life long goal of finishing college.
While it’s been several years and I still haven’t found permanent employment in my major, I still won because I was able to finish college. I thank God that I was able to finish in spite of my illness. Finishing college by itself is hard enough. Throwing a mental illness in the mix makes the degree of difficulty pretty steep. I hope that by finishing college that perhaps someday I can encourage someone with a mental illness to reach for and achieve their dreams.