Helping Friends Through Depression and Burnout While Having a Mental Illness Myself

Other than my parents I haven’t been socializing much lately.  Seems that many of my friends are more depressed and anxious than usual.  Normally I would be annoyed and irritated by people just being in rude and obnoxious moods while I would be sympathetic to those who were depressed and anxious.  I try to connect with these friends but I can’t tell that I’m getting through to them.  Sometimes I feel as though I’m wasting my breath and that my friends really don’t want my company.

Hopefully this is just the illness part of my mind speaking.  But it does concern me that so many of my friends are having issues with depression and burnout.  It didn’t use to be this way.  It use to be that I was the one with the depression and burnout and my friends were the ones doing alright.  Now the tables are turned.  I can tell my friends and family who were probably annoyed with my depression and hangups in my younger years that I appreciate your efforts to keep me in the loop.  I especially appreciate you inviting me to functions that I probably wouldn’t just show up to on my own.  I may secretly begrudge social activities at first but once things get started I’m glad I participated.  But your efforts to include me and encourage me did not go unnoticed or unappreciated.  I may not say it often enough, but I do appreciate my family and friends.  I may not keep in contact as much as I would like.  In some cases, I imagine my friends may be annoyed by how much I try to stay in contact.  But I don’t have many options for decent socializing.

I appreciate my friends and family.   I hurt for them when they are suffering and struggling.  Such is the price of being naturally empathic in a time and place that doesn’t value empathy and connection.  But it is kind of strange helping my friends out with their depression and stress issues now.  I imagine that since many of my friends are in their late 30s and early 40s, this is prime years for the mid life crisis.  I guess I had my major crisis in my teens and twenties while my peers were getting started in their careers and still dating and thinking about marriage.  It’s now my turn to be the support system to those who need it.  I want to believe that my empathy and support of my friends in their struggles is appreciated.  I want to believe that the fears that say my friends would rather I go away are just my illness creeping back in, and I do think that it is.  But there are the moments of weakness still.

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Taking The Roads Less Travelled to Live A Life Rarely Lived

Feeling quite well overall.  In fact I would say that I’m quite happy overall much of the time.  Yet living alone because of my mental illness, I really have no one to share this happiness with.  Most of my friends, at least the ones in my age bracket, are married with children and in the middle of careers.  I have several friends who are now divorced and struggling with life.  I have a hard time relating to these friends simply because I never married.  Even before I realized how serious my mental illness truly was, I didn’t have much interest in getting married.  Growing up, I saw that many married couples were unhappy and having money troubles.  Three of my best friends’ parents and three sets of my cousins’ parents went through divorces while I was growing up.  It just seemed insane to me that my elders were chastising me for being leery about marriage when I was watching marriages getting picked off on a regular basis.  I’m so glad that my parents didn’t pressure me into getting married or having kids.  Now I’m watching some of my classmates go through divorces or having money problems in their late 30s.  And I don’t have those problems.

I don’t feel guilty about avoiding the problems that many of my friends and family members have or had.  It seems that most of the really good marriages I see out of my friends and family members came when the couple in question didn’t marry until their late 20s or even mid 30s.  People can say that marriages in the “good ol’ days” lasted a lifetime.  But many lifetimes didn’t last that long.  And most people in bad marriages stayed in mainly because they had no choice, especially when mobility was extremely limited and there weren’t many career options, especially for women.  Many people in the old days married more than once, not due to divorce, but because of the death of the spouse.

And let’s not kid ourselves, people change over the years.  People develop different interests over the years.  People develop different values over the years.  I am definitely not the same person now that I was fifteen years ago, let alone five years ago.  And one of the things that keeps me getting out of bed every morning is the idea that I can and will change over time given enough time and effort.  Having said this, the person you marry at age twenty three isn’t going to be the same person ten years later, let alone forty.  I tried to tell this to my classmates when we were in college, but many of them were like ‘love is forever’, or ‘love is all you need’, or ‘who broke your heart’.  But here we are fifteen to twenty years later and some of my friends and classmates are finding out there was some truth in my theories.  I’m not cynical by any means.  I’m actually more optimistic than most people I know.  I just see trends earlier than most people.

Even though I had a few really cool friends in high school, by and large my teenage years were difficult.  In fact, in many ways, they sucked.  I loved scholarly pursuits and I loved to play football at the same time.  That made me an outcast among my teammates by itself.  My best friend in high school was a girl, and most people couldn’t wrap their minds around the idea that it was possible to befriend someone you found attractive and not have sex with them.  I suspect the big reason I didn’t get many dates in high school was because my best friend was a girl.  But, looking back on it years later, I’m glad I did it the way I did.  I do regret not keeping in contact with most of my other friends, but these guys aren’t the type to hang out on facebook or go to reunions anyway.  I wanted to get good grades and good test scores in school, so that made me a nerd.  I knew right away I didn’t have the hand coordination to go into the trades, so crushing it in academics was the next best thing.  And I got excellent scholarships because of my dedication to academics.  Sure there were many I didn’t qualify for because of affirmative action and equal opportunity deals.  But rather than complain about what I couldn’t control, I did what I could.  Namely take difficult classes, do well in those, nail the college board exams, and go to a college that would offer me good academic scholarships.

Even though I didn’t graduate in my preferred field of the biological sciences, I did graduate with a business degree with an emphasis on management and economics.  I had no delusions that I was going to be the next Wolf of Wall Street, but I really wanted to teach personal finance and investing classes at the college level.  That was before I realized I would probably need a doctorate in order to even consider having any job security in the academic world.  Well, I didn’t want to go into student debt to do that.  And I could tell my mental illness was getting worse even in my mid twenties.  So I applied for disability insurance and moved to low income housing.  I worked a part time job for a few years, mainly to prove to myself that I could.  In mid 2012, I decided to leave the regular work world to concentrate on my writing and personal scholarly pursuits.  I didn’t need to work as I could live off my disability pension.  I can do this because I have zero debts, zero family obligations, have cheap hobbies, and I am a minimalist.

For years people told me I was crazy for not getting married, not wanting to have kids, not wanting to pursue the regular nine to five grind, not wanting to go bar hopping on the weekends, and not spending my money on crap I didn’t need to impress jerks I didn’t like.  But I’m not even forty yet and I’m already starting to see benefits from being wise and not screwing up.  The only really sad thing about this is that I find myself not having much to talk about with when I’m around my old friends.  I don’t have a job I can’t stand.  I don’t have problems with money.  I don’t have a spouse or girlfriend I have personality clashes with.  I don’t have an ex I’m send alimony to every month.  I’m not making child support payments on kids I never get to see.  I was able to separate the gold nuggets of wisdom tossed my way by my elders from the mountains of b.s. that some people tried to jam down my throat.  I sometimes find I have more in common with members of my science and futurism groups on facebook than I do my classmates and even some of my friends.

People think I’m odd because I get along fabulously well with my parents, at least the ninety nine percent of the time I’m not having flare ups with my schizophrenia.  Sure they were demanding and tough on my brother and I when we were kids.  Sure they told us harsh truths about ourselves, the world at large, and didn’t give us the whole Disney fantasy fairy tale stories kind of childhood.  As a little child in the early 80s I knew who Ronald Reagan was before I did Mickey Mouse.  At age seven I could identify Carl Sagan before I could most movie stars and musicians.  It made no sense to me as a kid as it seemed that some of my school mates were more care free and happy than my brother and I.  We may not have been raised like warriors but we certainly were raised like scholars.

Now that I’m an adult I am grateful for the way I was raised by my parents and extended family.  I am grateful I struggled socially as a teenager as that made me develop skills that some people never had to.  I’m glad I got see what could go wrong in dating relationships and marriages without having to experience these tragedies first hand.  I’m glad my best friend in high school was a girl.  I’m glad that she and I are still good friends twenty years later.  That probably wouldn’t have happened had we tried to force the friendship into a romantic direction.  I’m grateful for the failed relationships and dead end jobs.  I’m thankful I moved out of my hometown.  I’m grateful for the years I lived alone.  I’m grateful I got out of debt.  I’m grateful for loving to read and write.  Reading and writing give me a joy that I never found in any romance, job, etc.  I’m especially thankful for the early struggles in my teens and early twenties with mental illness and bad jobs.  I’m glad those struggles came in my youth rather than my current middle age.  I don’t have a mid life crisis because I had my crises in my teens and twenties, learned from said crises, and adapted accordingly.  I’m glad I didn’t have it easy early on socially, work wise, mental health wise, etc.  I’m grateful for the early struggles.  I’m glad I had to face loss in my early twenties as opposed to my late thirties.

Reflection upon 2014 and Looking Ahead to 2015

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The year 2014 will be drawing to a close in a few short days.  I always enjoyed the rebirth of New Year’s as a holiday as much as I enjoyed the joys of Christmas and the pride of July 4th.  It is, for me, a time of reflection on the year that was and looking ahead to the year that will be.  It is all appropriate to reflect on the past year.

In 2014, I managed to lose almost 60 pounds and get some other issues in my life in order.  Yes, the weight loss has slowed since late October.  But many people gain weight during Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas seasons.  I’m fortunate that I was able to hold weight wise and mentally even during these stressful and unorganized times.

I had a real good Christmas season.  I didn’t experience as much stress, anxiety, and irritation between Thanksgiving and Christmas as in past years.  Yes I did have one bad episode but that was resolved within one day.  But I got to see an old friend I hadn’t seen in over 15 years, I got some cool stuff for Christmas, and was able to spend several days with friends and family.  How can I ask for more?  It was an ideal holiday season for someone with a mental illness.  We can all use less anxiety and stress in our lives.  We who deal with mental illness are no exception.

I’m glad I lost those 60 pounds in 2014.  My goal, one of them anyway, is to lose another 60 pounds at minimum.  I still have a long way to go before I am at the weight I was in high school.  For far too long I accepted the nonsense that gaining weight while taking anti psychotic drugs was inevitable.  Yes, that can be one of the more prominent side effects of being treated for mental illness problems.  At the same time, many of the newer anti psychotic drugs don’t promote weight gain as much as many of the older generation of medications.  Yes, they are expensive.  Without being on Medicaid and Medicare, my anti psych drugs would cost $1,300 per month.  Just because I’m on government assistance doesn’t mean I’m not aware of what these meds would cost.  While I curse the fact I can’t support myself through my own labor (at least not yet), I am still grateful that such programs as well as private services exist to aid those of us who are, as of this writing in late 2014, still struggling to support ourselves.

We as people have made strides in 2014.  We landed a space probe on a comet among other numerous achievements.  Who knows what the next few decades, let alone the next few years, will bring us as far as achievements and breakthroughs that will make living easier and more productive.  For myself, I never imagined in mid 2012 when I registered a blog through wordpress.com, I would be doing this blog semi regular.  As of today, I’ve had 4,200 plus visits to my blog from at least 60 different nations on every inhabited continent in the world.  Yes, there are blogs that have that many visits on even bad days.  But, thewritngoflife.wordpress.com has evidently struck some people as something worth reading and leaving positive comments on.  Fortunately I haven’t had problems with internet trolls yet.  I’m sure I’ll get a few before long.  But a wise blogger doesn’t feed trolls or anyone else looking to irritate others and start problems.  While it is irritating for me to see people act dumb and look for arguments, even with a mental illness I am aware that such people do not deserve to have their comments responded to.

I have enjoyed 2014.  I got more healthy, lost quite a bit of weight, saw a few old friend I hadn’t seen in years, visited the Black Hills of South Dakota, found out I’m going to be a groomsman in a college friends wedding in summer of 2015, got to visit my out of state niece and three nephews a few times, stayed out of a mental health hospital (I can’t claim that for 2013), and got to see this little ol’ blog of mine reach some people.  How can I call a year like this a waste?  I can’t.  Yes I said good bye to an old friend, found out a second friend of mine in my apartment complex died on Christmas day itself, and saw my parents experience some of the ravages of old age.  Fortunately I had only two major psych breakdowns (I’m usually due for one in either August or September every year because I have a seasonal aspect to my schizophrenia).  As far as living years with a mental illness goes, this year may actually go down as one of my best yet.

As far as goals for 2015, I desire to lose at least another 60 pounds.  While I did fail at one of my goals for 2014 in that I didn’t find a part time job, I feel the year was a success overall.

Struggles With Mental Illness In College

Struggles With Mental Illness In College

By Zach Foster

 

            I wasn’t officially diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia until I was twenty years old.  Yet I started to notice problems when I was seventeen years old.  I was gradually seeing changes in my personality as well as losing interest in my activities and hobbies.  None of this made any sense to me when I was going through it and was quite scary.

            Until I began having problems I was involved in many of the activities my small town high school had to offer.  I was also one the best and smartest students in my class.  I even had an active social life outside of my school activities.  In short, I was a typical teenage male.

            Shortly after I turned seventeen, I began to notice some changes in myself during the fall of my junior year.  I started to become careless in my school activities and eventually became indifferent about them.  I would occasionally skip speech practices.  I would be giving minimum effort in football and track practice as well as arguing with my teammates and ignoring my coaches.  I came to be easily frustrated and angered by my schoolmates.  Things I would have previously dismissed as meaningless jokes and harmless pranks took on a sinister and threatening tone.  I was less interested in school and my grades began to decline. 

I didn’t even try out for the school-play my senior year even though I had the lead role as a junior.  Though I never did cross that line, on many occasion I wanted to physically fight my classmates and even some of my teachers were previously I hadn’t been in a fight with anyone except my brother and my cousins.  I completely gave up on dating as I went my entire senior year without one single date.  I began to gain weight at a fast rate once football ended my senior year, gaining almost thirty pounds in only six months.  I even managed to fail a class the last quarter of my senior year.

            By the time I graduated from high school I lost contact with all of my friends.  I didn’t have a single friend when I finished school because I had neglected to maintain any friendships and strained others as hard as I did.  I was angry and frustrated all the time.  I almost never laughed or smiled.  I never went out socially anymore, instead opting to hide out in my basement bedroom and listen to hard rock music for hours at a time.  Fortunately I was still able to graduate because I had enough credits even with failing a class.  I didn’t care about anyone or anything, especially myself.  My hygiene declined, as did my self-esteem.  I didn’t trust anyone at all, not my teachers, my parents, my old friends, and especially not my classmates.

            I was a total wreck by the time I graduated from high school.  Graduation was not a celebration as far as I was concerned.  I didn’t savor the victory of graduating because, in my diseased mind, I was expected to graduate just as much as I was expected to do my chores at home.  Graduation had no more excitement for me than taking the trash to the curb.  I didn’t see graduating as an accomplishment. I saw it as I survived those last two years of pure torment. 

            Looking back on it years later, I should have sought help immediately when I was in high school.  I certainly should never have attempted college immediately after I finished school.  Mentally I was exhausted and running on fumes.  I could hardly concentrate on my work even that last year in high school.  Socially I was inept and way behind the curve.  I should have sought help sooner than I did.

            My problems went from bad to horrible when I got into college.  I was depressed and sad when I wasn’t full of rage and anger, but never happy about anything.  One moment I would be absolutely enraged by something that was meaningless.  Not even a minute later I would be so depressed and sad over something else that I was inconsolable.  After a few weeks of this in college, I went to a counselor who strongly recommended I go see a psychiatrist, which I finally did after about a year of fighting and struggling through school while having major psychological issues.  I was finally diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in October 2000.

            After being diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia I was put on a series of anti-depressants and anti-psych medications.  It took several months of trial and error before a combination of medications that worked for me was found.  With this right combination of meds I was once again able to return to college and live an almost normal life.

            I first had problems with being depressed and moody when I was a junior in high school.  At first I thought nothing of it and believed I was merely going through typical teenage mood swings.  I saw what other students in my high school were going through and came to believe that anger, depression, frustration, sadness, and anxiety were normal parts of growing up.  I would find out that my original thinking was wrong and distorted.  My problems were anything but normal and I was going to need some serious help.

            As I moved from high school into college my problems went from bad to worse.    I was rarely happy with anyone or anything.  I easily lost my temper over the smallest things.  I had delusions that people were going through my trash.  I was paranoid that people were listening in on my phone conversations.  Yet I still managed to stay in school.

            I first went to counseling a few weeks into my freshman year.  Before then I was completely on my own.  I was keeping all of my emotions and fears bottled up with no way to safely release them.  I was fearful of telling anyone the true way I felt and what I was really thinking.  I was afraid that no one would understand me and or tell me to ‘suck it up and take it like a man.’  I had been doing just exactly that since high school and I was only getting worse by the day.

            Counseling did some good to help me vent my frustrations.  But it did nothing to get at the root of my problems.  I was still having problems with depression, anxiety, delusions, auditory hallucinations, anger, and extreme irritation.

            My auditory hallucinations were a problem.  Mine didn’t tell me to kill myself or to hurt anyone.  Instead mine always give a running commentary of what I was doing all of the time.  It was sort of like the play-by-play commentary on a ballgame telecast except that it was my life.  The voices were always inside of my head, never outside.  The voices were never complimentary; they were always very critical, occasionally hostile, always annoying, and always occurring at the very worst possible times.  These voices demanded perfection out of everything I did all of the time. 

            Finally in the summer of 2000, I went to see my family practitioner about my depression and anger issues.  I was way too embarrassed to talk about my auditory hallucinations.  Major mistake.  I could have saved myself a great deal of heartache and a lot of recovery time had I pointed those hallucinations out immediately.  But because I was not completely open with my doctor about all of my problems, I wasn’t correctly treated right away.

            I was given a prescription for an anti-depressant that was quite new and popular.  But it didn’t do anything to lessen my problems.  I was well back into college before I figured out that the medication was going to have to be changed.  That was my second major mistake, trying to continue on with my life before I took care of my own sickness. 

            With my illness getting severe enough that every aspect of my life was now suffering real bad, I had no choice but to take a few days off from school.  I went and saw a psychiatrist.  After a several hour session and a complete physical where I was completely honest, I was diagnosed with Major Depression.  Paranoid Schizophrenia would later be added to the diagnosis. 

            Different people handle being diagnosed differently.  Some will be confused as to what it means.  Others will be severely depressed, saddened, and feel that life no longer has any reason for going forward.  Others, like myself, may actually be somewhat relieved to know that there are names for their problems and that they are not alone. 

            I went through several series of medications over the next several months with little success of finding anything that worked well.  The entire time I was trying to find a series of medications that worked I was limping through school, just barely getting by.  At first I thought that quitting school was not an option because I had never quit at anything before in my entire life.  It finally got to be too much and I finally came to the conclusion that I needed to take some time off and regroup. 

            In March 2001 I decided to withdraw from college and take a few months to recover.  My mental illness, juggling medication changes, and trying to pass my classes had finally worn me out.  I would have flunked out had I stayed on for the rest of the year.

            In the weeks that followed my withdrawing from school, my psychiatrist and I were able to find a combination of medications that finally worked.  By the summer time I was able to hold a forty-hour a week summer job.  When the fall of 2001 came I re-enrolled in college and was back ready to go.

 

I was officially diagnosed as mentally ill in the year 2000 at the age of twenty.  Before then I was acting strange and thinking paranoid thoughts that no one else was.  I had no idea just how bizarre my thoughts and actions were until I was recommended to a psychiatrist by both my family physician and counselor.

            I now readily admit that I had serious problems in college before I started my treatment.  I was doing well in my classes but my academic achievements were the only things going well for me in my first year of college.  I didn’t make many friends and I didn’t date at all.  I didn’t join many social activities.  I was too paranoid that people knew my thoughts, my secrets, and everything else there was to know about me.  I felt like I could be completely seen though, like everyone knew me better than even I knew myself.           

Yet that wasn’t the end of my troubles.  I was also paranoid that people were intentionally going out of their way to keep me in the dark of what was going on at college.  I was usually the last one to learn the goings on in other peoples’ lives.  I was usually the last to learn of any campus news.  So I was angry that people “intentionally” kept me know knowing about what was going on in my dorm, on campus, and even with my friends and roommate.

            Before I began my treatments, I would go through cycles where I would sleep for only two hours a night for a week at a time.  By my second year of college, I was such a wreck that I couldn’t concentrate enough to read a book, listen to a class lecture and take good notes at the same time, or even follow an average conversation.  Once my second year of college was underway, I didn’t have even my academic work to be proud of.  My grades were suffering severely.

            By the time Christmas of 2000 came I was a mess.  I was changing medications every two to four weeks while we were looking for something just to remotely work.  I eventually came to where I would get out of bed for classes and to go to the mess hall to eat twice a day.  That was it.  The rest of my days were spent in bed.  I don’t know what I was thinking to believe I could still attempt to stay in school while being that sick and having that ineffective of treatments.  But that is part of the delusional thinking that comes with mental illness.

            Naturally my social life died a quick death.  The friends I made my freshman year quit coming around and I quit going to see them.  I was no longer participating in any school activities so I no longer had those friends.  I lost my study groups when I quit going to those.  I lost my girlfriend when my behavior became especially bizarre.  I had only two friends by late February 2001 and that was it.

            I finally decided to withdraw from school on March 2, 2001.  The reason I remember that exact date is because that is when I believe that my recovery officially began.  I dropped all of my classes, moved back home with mom and dad, changed my medications again, and caught up on my sleep.  The medication changes finally worked this time after several months of stumbling around in the dark.  After six weeks of being out of college I was feeling well enough that I began working 40 hours per week at a retail job.  By the middle of summer I was feeling well enough that I decided to re-enroll in college.

            After I returned to college I made it a point to be friendly and thoughtful to everyone I came into contact with regardless of how they treated me.  But I decided to keep only a few really close friends that I felt I could tell anything.  Since I was being friendly to everyone that I met, that made it a little easier for me to learn how to trust people again. Little by little I began to open up to more people until I felt that I could carry on a regular, casual conversation with anyone who willing to carry on one with me.

            From being friendly with even strangers and gradually opening myself up more and more I learned that my paranoia about people trying to hurt me was completely wrong.  In fact I found that most people were just as busy with their own lives as I was with my own.  They were too busy to hurt anyone.

             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 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.  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 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, Matt Campbell, being a history education student helping me out with history and classical literature books, this 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.  Yet 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.  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 for me.  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.  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. 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.