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Any college dropouts?

School and Bipolar Disorder? How do you do it? Please share your experiences, your victories, and even your disappointmens. We understand how hard it must be from high school to college to grad school. Hope you can share with us and find the support you need.

by evidenceoflife » Thu Nov 27, 2014 10:25 pm

I have successfully screwed up two solid years of college now. I took a medical withdrawal in Spring 2013 and in Fall 2013 and then I just plain dropped out in Spring 2014 because I didn't want to crawl back to the withdrawal office and have them shake their heads at me again (with the whole "mental illness isn't a real illness" attitude). I thought I'd never go back to college, but I got an offer to attend a different college that I couldn't refuse and now (surprise, surprise) I have royally screwed up this semester too. Perhaps out of habit. Perhaps because I've been depressed longer than I wanted to believe. It doesn't matter.

I was just wondering if anyone else has had issues with college: screwing up, dropping out, making it through, etc. Anyone drop out and regret it? Anyone drop out and not regret it? If you did make it all the way through, how the heck did you do it?! Please tell me your secret.
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by soonersbaby21 » Tue Dec 02, 2014 10:35 pm

I've had issues with college. I decided to take life in my own hands though and move on when it didn't work out and I am succeeding in a medical job that doesn't require a degree, and there are very very many of them out there.

I mean to give you some idea....
I went straight to college out of high school in 2007 and I succeeded for a year before having to drop out trying to push myself to do the summer semester of 2008 all while working full time and it threw me into an manic episode. Then I tried again that next spring and succeeded for a semester but the next fall I transferred to a different school and had to drop all my classes again for another manic episode because of the stress of a move, finances, a full work load and classes.

Then couple years later 2011(..I think?) I went back to school and did a full year successfully but AGAIN attempted to do summer classes, did a maymester successfully but went into a mania episode during the stress of summer classes again. So yea I feel your pain.

But you can succeed in other ways. I have. You don't need a college degree. If anything it's just a paper. An expensive piece of paper that most people don't even use or need.
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by Zijda » Wed Dec 03, 2014 7:09 am

I am in the process of completely f*in' up my Master's degree! I'm also having the most insane two weeks of every emotion ever and I have only just recognized all the crazy set of emotions today. I have to apologize to my professor for grossly insulting him and oh god, I hope I'm not in the wrong mood to do so.

I was very fortunate in undergrad that, somehow, I kept my moods in line/only ran ramshod over my social life. I was only diagnosed BP2 last year, so I'm happy the undergrad went fine. Lucky break.

Anyway, keeping in mind that I have gone through all the emotions I think possible over the last 48 hours, my opinion on this is, basically, think about what you want to do. What career do you want? Do you really need the schooling for it? If not, it's probably better to get experience for how the "real world" works so you're in a better place to hold the job once you have it. School works on a semester or a quarter system, which is nothing like a real job. Also, dealing with teachers and supervisors, while it has some similarities, is really different too.

If you think you really do need it, then I'd probably talk with some of the people on here who have pushed through. It's certainly possible, even though it's hard. It's also possible that you keep a holding pattern until, maybe, you have more stable meds? I know my meds are clearly not optimal right now. I probably would be messing up less if they were.

So chatty. It's comforting knowing I don't have to say why.
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by evidenceoflife » Wed Dec 03, 2014 3:10 pm

Soonersbaby21, I feel like my college career has been very similar to yours, only my withdrawals are not usually due to mania. Oh, the cycle! The worst part about this time is knowing that now that I've transferred, I can't make an excuse to myself by thinking that it's the particular school environment that's at fault. I look back and I know it's a cycle and I don't know whether there's something I can do to stop the cycle or whether I should move on. The questions! It's so good to hear that you are having success. I hope with success, you have also found happiness or contentment.

Zijda, I love the exclamation point there at the end of your first sentence. Because at some point, you just have to to add it. People think I'm being ungrateful and apathetic when I laugh and joke about it, but I don't know of any other way to handle it. I have all of seven days to figure out what the heck I'm going to do because there will be no salvaging this one. I hope you are not that far down the hole, though if you are I hope you can take comfort in the fact that you're not the only one making a total mess of things. I will attempt to get a handle on my meds this Friday (because I haven't been on any at all, due to my being an arrogant twerp and whatnot). Good luck with your apology! You are very brave to go back and apologize. I probably would not have been able to make myself do it.

Thank you both for telling me your college stories. You have given me a new perspective and it has really made a difference in the way I feel this evening.
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by clare_hart » Wed Dec 03, 2014 5:56 pm

I fully understand the problems you are having. My sketchy history of going to scool over and over again has hauted me much of my early years. I now have two AS degrees and a Bachelor of Arts in Fine Art. My father was a professor with Loyola U so I got to go free. Within the first semester, I was put on academic probation. Just didn't go to all the classes and didn't finish papers.. I think it was hypo-mania. My dad was angry . . . really? )

I switched to a photography and arts school. I would start out the semester all jazzed up and by the end my depression would set in. At the end of three years I dropped out with a W, a C, an F, an Incomplete and I don't remember. This was the beginning of my first 3 year long psychotic episode.

Eventually, my mania was back under control and I got my first AS, sweating through the A grades but I did it. Years later I went back to fine arts, drawing, painting and art history. I loved every minute of it and got my BA. Years later, I got an AS in Holistic Health, emhasis on Oriental Healing Arts. Withn a few years I entered my second manic phase for yet another 3 years. Crap.

I'm happy to say that am done with it. For now. Might try a few adult ed classes in astronomy, botany, things like that.

I truly hope you will find your way through the maze. Just monitor your reactions and moods and breathe before you speak. I have found it helpful not to judge others when they anger me. I never know what might be emotionally or physically going on with them to make them cranky, hostile, etc. Besides I don't want to get hurt, like physically I mean!

Please et us know how it's going for you.
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by duckidaho » Thu Dec 04, 2014 8:44 pm

Well, I've been both successful and unsuccessful. I ultimately did finish one Master's degree. Which was essential to my career as a public school teacher. I have realized that my bi-polar symptoms have a seasonal component to them. Hypomanic in summer and early fall. Then switching to more depressive moods in fall. This was interesting because I'd start a fall semester feeling great. Invincible. Like I could do anything. Hypomanic. I'd register for 19 or 20 credits. By October, however, I would be hitting the depressive side of things and have dropped down to 10 or 12 credits. Barely a full load. It's easy enough to see. All I have to do is look at my college transcripts and see when (early October) I began dropping classes.

Anyway, I finally did make it through that Master's degree. I later went back to school and almost finished a second Master's degree. I dropped out on a medical withdrawal. I'm 6 credit's short of that second Master's.

Moral of the story? With the right meds, right lifestyle changes, and good support, it seems like it should be possible. But everyone's symptoms are so different. I also like what people said about asking WHY you want or need a degree? Not everyone needs a degree.
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by evidenceoflife » Fri Dec 05, 2014 6:35 am

Wow! I'm so relieved I'm not alone in this kind of problem. Not that I'm happy you guys have had problems…but you know what I mean.
I will end up taking a medical withdrawal this semester, though I may get to pass two of my classes just by the skin of my teeth. The question now is whether I should go back and try to finish the degree or just accept that it's a cycle and it's not worth the wasted money and wasted life…
As for why I need a degree…my mom's side of the family is bent on formally educating me for several more years. They are certain that I will be slave to my husband if I don't get a degree. I need to be grateful for and take advantage of my opportunity for education and just suck it up, get off my butt, and graduate. I AM grateful for the opportunity. But almost too much. I know I'm wasting it and I know of at least 10 other people who would gladly take the chance I have, but I just don't know that I'm up for it. And I'm so disappointed in myself, but I think this may be the end of that road. And I need to just figure out how to be okay with that.
I don't want a "career", really. I like to jump around between jobs (which I know doesn't look good on my resumé, but I like to do it anyway). I worked on a farm for a while, I've been a nanny twice, I did live audio for a long time, I have a small business, I co-authored a book…now I want to try something new like carpentry or manufacturing…or maybe I could be a museum tour guide? The point is, I like variety and so I tend to prefer "jobs" over "careers". I'm an INTP if that means anything to you (if it does, that will explain a lot about why I like to hop between jobs).
I really aspire to be a homeschooling mama, but most advice I get on that home front is that I need a degree in case of a catastrophe that leaves me needing to support a big family by myself. Understandable. But I really don't think I can finish school. Partly because I don't like school and partly because I seem to be stuck in this cycle. I don't know. Maybe I'll take a massive break until my mood is more stable? Maybe I'll keep going and just accept that I will likely have to withdraw again each time and just finish the few credits I can manage? Maybe this is the straw that broke the camel's back and I will be told I cannot return to school again. Haha. I wouldn't be surprised. Who knows.
I have 48 hours to figure it out.
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by clare_hart » Fri Dec 05, 2014 11:25 am

OOPS, rereading this post today (4/15) . . . I think I may have been a bit manic?

Sheesh. When the time is right to do anything at all you will know and it is your choice and your decision alone - family has good intentions but beleive me, they can push too hard for what they want, not what is best for you. They might think they know, but agian, only you can find what resonates with you.

A degree is paper and learning only. I love to learn, but I also figure if I had creds for life experience, I would be a pHd twice over! If you decide to continue after your degree, make sure it is one which brings you joy and which you are ready to pursue. IMHO.

As for your job and lack of continuity in one field for your resume, it doesn't seem to stop you. You may not get paid by employers as much as you might or you may start at entry level. But who care? If you are doing something to explore and experiment, more power to you. If you just want to take a hiatus and not go to scool, like I said, it sounds as if you have ideas, so go for it.

One big caution however. Skipping around jobs like you are doing, not being able to hold onto classes, May be red flags. Monitor yourself carefully and have a fall back. I have a support group of family and friends who bring my attention to manic and depressive periods. and I have a tdoc and a pdoc who carefully overlook that as well. Your family's concern may be just this and they want to see you a bit settled and solid. At least listen, discuss, and consider what is being offered to you in the way of caring observations.

Never, ever, ever underestimate what this insidious, destructive disease can enthrall your senses with. It is a wonderful feeling to be high with hypo-mania, mania is a bit different and doesn't seem to apply to you right now. But it could.

Try to objectively evaluate your life and where you want to go next. Maybe outline some goals. For example: I would like to take different jobs or travel overseas, or back-pack the Apalachian Mountains or follow the Pacific Trail, for the next 2 or 3 years. I think maybe I would like to then think about whether schooling is the right thing, or maybe I just want to take some part time classes becuase all my wanderings and different experiences have given me interests I'd like to explore.

Consider sharing this plan with family, close friends, your pdoc. If they think you should carry meds with you no matter where you go or what you do, take this very seriously. Find ways to keep obtaining these meds and be sure to let the doc know if you aren't tolerating any.

The worst thing that I would fear, (and oh boy do I) is something seniding you into a psychotic manic episode. The trail of destruction would be worse than any hiking trail. I have been there, lost all friends and almost everything I owned, lost respect and confidence, almost committed suicide, scared off some of my family members and concerned others about my safety and so on and so on.

I sincerely hope you will find the heights from doing what you love, but not from being either hypo-manic or manic. If you are anything like me, you will still have a few break through hypo-manic and depressive episodes. If you are self aware and have a safety net of people you love, you will get through those just fine.

Realize your triggers and maybe even write down the things you do when you are manic. My support group list had names, phone numbers, and lists of normal in one column and the things I would do, ways I might dress, etc., and I would hand these out and keep one for myself. Spotting your illness signs early is the best thing you can do.

Anyway, don't be afraid or think you are manic just because you feel a bit flighty and want to flit around a bit! Youth is wonderful and can bounce back from nearly anything. So follow your dreams.

Sounds like you are doing that now. Enjoy and hold to your desires and decisions. If anyone challenges these, ask them why. Do they see mania? If not, then "bugger off." (said in a nice way of course lol)

Good luck on your journey aas you trudge the happy road of destiny!
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by clare_hart » Fri Dec 05, 2014 11:27 am

My apologies for the book. Hope you don't consider it too preachy. I am giving you my "wisdom" from 40 some years of being Bipolar 1.

Love ya lady. Enjoy! :twisted:
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by evidenceoflife » Sat May 30, 2015 9:19 am

Unbelievable new update:

I did decide to go back to give myself one more absolutely final, final chance and something incredible happened. Among four others, I took one class that completely changed my life. Of course, it helped immensely that I'm in the longest period of stability I've experienced in four years. But the real difference was made by my Psych professor who took an interest in my interest (if that makes any sense). He sat with me for hours answering my far-fetched hypothetical questions and invited me to the lab where I spent weeks fiddling with and old polygraph machine just for the heck of it. Several students complained over the course of the semester about his teaching style, that he never taught directly from the book. But that was exactly what I had been looking for all this time--something to hold my interest, something I couldn't just learn on my own. His answering my piles of questions and at least pretending to be interested in them allowed me to learn to appreciate my strength of curiosity instead of seeing it as an annoyance.
The point is, that professor and that period of stability led me to the first finished semester I've had since my only other in 2012. And I made dean's list, which didn't hurt.
It finally came together. I can hardly believe it.
But if I can catch a break like this, I know others can too. It really is possible.
Thank you all for sharing your stories and wisdom-- you gave me perspective and made me question my desire to leave college. For that, I will be forever grateful.
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by clare_hart » Sat May 30, 2015 2:56 pm

Well, evidenceoflife, you have aptly named yourself as optimistic even when you didn't think you felt so!

You have intellectual curiosity, responsibility, and apparently, a love for increasing your knowledge and growth.

I applaud you! :D
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by evidenceoflife » Sat May 30, 2015 4:39 pm

Thank you so much! You are ever so kind.
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by Heterodon » Wed Apr 13, 2016 7:38 pm

I have had my fair share of college problems. Much of it was becoming manic when it was time to sign up for classes and being depressed in the middle of the semester and not being able to identify that and work around that. I fell right down the ladder to my back up-back up. After 6 years of dropping out and forcing myself back in to school I am still a freshman. I still feel incredibly discouraged when I see high school friends succeed and have careers, but I am on track to finally pass my first semester of classes and use that momentum to hopefully get my degree.
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by evidenceoflife » Wed Apr 13, 2016 8:17 pm

Heterodon, I'm proud of you!
It takes a lot of strength to keep coming back.
It is discouraging to not make any progress, but you're on track. This will be my 3rd completed semester (fingers crossed) after the four semesters I had to withdraw from. And I never would have thought I would be here if you had asked me in 2013. I really, truly thought it would never happen. I've never fought for anything so hard and I know you're fighting hard too. So cheers to you!

What are you studying, if you don't mind my asking?
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by Paco » Wed Apr 13, 2016 10:06 pm


I feel the pain. I just recently went back to school as well. I have noticed that when stress comes it triggers me and I have a really hard time paying attention and meeting deadlines. Props to you for going back. Anything you find that helps please share. I have days I feel like I am fighting my way out of a paper bag.
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by Albi712 » Tue Apr 19, 2016 6:23 pm

I'm not glad that others have to deal with these issues but at the same time I am glad to know I'm not the only one.

I am in the middle of the semester and my grades are far from where they should be. I've been seriously slacking off. I work full time and I think a small part of it may be that I overloaded myself. But mostly I just procrastinate more.(In fact I'm supposed to be doing homework right now.) I keep ignoring things and putting things off until it's just before the deadline and then I start getting anxious about it. (I won't finish in time, I won't get a good grade, the professor will think I'm an idiot if I get this question wrong. etc etc etc) Usually I end up not doing it at all. I haven't turned in homework for one of my classes in 3 weeks now.

Another issue is sometimes when I'm trying to focus on studying everything will start to look like it's written in another language. It just doesn't make sense no matter how many time I read over it or think it through. Does that happen to anyone else?

Any suggestions on how to break this cycle and turn my semester around before it's too late?
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by Mocha » Wed Apr 20, 2016 3:12 am

Are you guys aware of the Americans Disability Act? Colleges and Unis are required to make accomodations for students with disabiliies? .
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by BillyGoat » Wed Apr 20, 2016 6:47 am

Gday Albi

Good job for posting, mate. :)

Any chance of hearing a little more about you in New To Our Forums..?

And to attempt to be relevant to the topic, I dropped out of two uni courses - Economics (after 3 months, due to dysphoric mania), and Liberal Arts (after 20 months, due to depression).

It meant I had to start a little lower on the career chain at places that I subsequently worked, but I managed to get myself into some enjoyable and well paying jobs by staying in the one place for a while, and getting noticed and promoted.

Qualifications are a fantastic way to start careers a few rungs up the ladder, but they're not the only way of getting there. If anyone isn't up to it at the time, please don't feel as if it's the end of the world.

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by evidenceoflife » Wed Apr 20, 2016 9:12 pm

Talk to your professors. You don't have to confess your whole world to them if you don't want to. Just sit down with them and find out where you stand and they'll probably give you an idea of what your next steps should be.

Mocha is right, talk to your dean of students, counseling center, or whatever office is in charge of disability services. ADA offers some accommodations.

Whichever person you talk to, just don't hide away by yourself and wait to see how you do. It truly sucks to talk to people, but your grade can only get better for it and if it doesn't make you less stressed, at least you will be well-informed.
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by Paco » Wed Apr 20, 2016 10:30 pm


So I wanted to follow up on some great advice that was given. First Billy is absolutely correct with college being a good way to enter work at a higher point but not the only way to get there. I have been at my current job for 9 years and am a manager. I could start in the same position had I presented a degree. Not sure I would do it differently. I am back in school now to finish my degree.

In school you can meet with the disabled student program. Priority registration is a perk. They will also be the one to tell your tale to and establish accommodations needed. From there they will communicate to the professors.
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by bpjunior » Fri Apr 22, 2016 6:25 am

Hi I'm a college dropout as well, i screwed 4 colleges but on the last they made me an instructor due to my experience. I know how its hard for the regrets but one must face the consequence like job rejection from initial interviews. Now, I don't have a job due to I'm adjusting myself from a dose of medications such as respiridone, olanzapine -- this medications make me weak and not creative. Hope you'll find the perfect timing for your mood
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by Reese » Sat Apr 23, 2016 6:30 am

Your singing my song ;) . I started college after a major lost in my life, time frame as follows: lost my gdad Dec 22, 2013 got my GED June 2014 lost my dad February 2015 started college spring 2015 no grieving time. I knew I wasn't ready but I did it because school is what was drilled into me by my family all my life :geek: . Did horrible, was placed on academic probation, went back passed fall classes just by the hairs on my chinny chin chin which i'm a female so I don't have any hairs on my chin lol that's how barely I passed. Enrolled in a different college in winter and did horrible, went back on academic probation. Took summer classes and knew I could not focus so I dropped out :x . All the years growing up I battled depression knew nothing about being bipolar, If I had of I known I would've known how to handle what I was feeling inside :( . So here I am today with a #### load of school debt and no career to show for it. I later went to a vocational school for Medical Assistance, almost jacked that up, was placed on academic probation and really wanted to quit but thank God I was able to finish :D . Now ask me how much good it's doing me now, None! :( I got placed with an incompetent no ethic having crooked doctor for my externship who helped push my career into the dirt (that's a story for a different post lol) so did not find another employer in my field after I worked so hard to finish :evil: . So years later I paid off some of my school debt and was allowed the opportunity to return to community college :D and what happens you ask? Everything was going okay I barely had the funds to get to and from school but had just enough to make it waiting on my refund check to help me with bus fare to school. When my brother (yes blood brother) steals my check :evil: , well darn here we go again :roll: . I had to stop going cause I couldn't get there, I just threw away my school ID this year and that happened in 2010. I was traumatized :shock: . So fast forward, I decided to go to school for cosmetology, ask me how that worked out? after three attempts one not being the fault of my own (another long story) I did not finish. Much of my own sabotage could have been prevented if only I had known my real diagnoses. Now i'm at the point of never mind. I know I need to finish some sort of schooling so I can do better for myself, but on the other hand maybe it's not meant for me and maybe that's why I keep having all the bad luck with school and finishing. so all that's to say you are not alone, I feel your pain! I say that with a lil humor but truth.
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