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Need Some Perspective

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 » Mon Jul 24, 2017 10:12 am

Hey guys,

I know my posts to this forum have been a kind of wild ride--from completely dropping out to being thrilled and saying that it can be done--but now I'm in need of some perspective.

I am supposed to be going into my sixth and final year of college and I'm backed up. I had some incompletes that I never finished (didn't take my own advice there) and in those classes I received an F grade, regardless of what grade I would've gotten if I had just left the class unfinished without an incomplete. So I got behind by quite a few credits--nothing unusual to me. I took a big hit between October and April and had to take an entire semester off. This summer, I've taken the equivalent of a full-time load and still, I will have to overload both of the coming semesters if I want to graduate on time--and I SO want to be done. I have family breathing down my neck and there's a donor who pays for my education who is endlessly patient and that gives me a lot of guilt.
My school requires that every single class choice be approved by an academic advisor and because my advisor saw me during this last problem time, he's terrified I'm going to die if I overload and he's going to blame himself for letting me do it. I was angry and upset about the news that he was refusing to allow me to proceed at the pace necessary for me to graduate and I cried in front of him, which he then used as fuel for his flame, telling me "See, you're crying now! You're too emotionally unstable to take all this on." (Ever have that happen where even when you have normal human emotions, other people immediately assume it's because you're bipolar??)

So he has refused to let me register so far. And I went to my pdoc desperately hoping he would write some kind of letter to him, saying that I was perfectly capable and that my advisor should really reconsider my request. However, when I saw him on Friday, he also told me that it was a bad idea and that he wouldn't feel right about letting me do it either. I left horrified. I'm not a sea cucumber. I am 99% stable right now, apart from my messed up sleep schedule, and I feel perfectly capable of completing an overloaded semester or two. It wouldn't be fun and I might crash after graduation, but I could do it. I'm not broken.

All I want in the world is to have college behind me, to get my family off my back, to stop wasting people's money, to be able to focus on anything else except this whole college concept. I know that my track record isn't good (hello, you don't get to be in undergrad for six years because you're particularly successful), but I truly believe that even if it is a time-bomb issue, I should be allowed to make those choices myself.

I don't know where to go from here. That's why I need some perspective.
Do I continue to fight it? Or do I give up, call my sponsor, and spend potentially two more years in college?
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by Spm24 » Mon Jul 24, 2017 11:02 am


I'm divided in this question.

On one side I can see your desire and drive to finish college on time. Which is a good sign that you have it in you to do this even though it will be extremely tough.

But on the flip side I am not sure if you had to take that semester off because of your bipolar. Or some other reason. If it was your bipolar then that shows that overloading yourself is a bad idea. Which will cause you to fail which is not something you want to do.

I think if it comes to you needing more time your benefactor will understand especially if they have hung through this far. Your family should understand if they know what you go through. They should realize that not everything is controllable for you. Mitigating circumstances.

But to get back to your question. I think it would be to much for me to handle even though I am mostly stable. But we are all different. I know no help to answer your questions. This is a hard one to me.
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by evidenceoflife » Mon Jul 24, 2017 3:12 pm

No, that definitely does help, Spm24. Thank you for giving me some input.

I did take the semester off because of a depressive episode, but I had not been overloading myself. In fact, I had a pretty relaxed semester prior. This stuff comes out of nowhere and all the time I think I've nailed all the triggers and I think I know myself so well that I can consciously keep myself stable, but it just hits like a freight train with or without a clear cause. So while I agree with all sources that the stress might trigger a swing one way or another, I don't like the thought of living in fear of stress when I could get hit no matter how small my class load is. That's a big part of my concern.

And you're right that my sponsor will understand. My family will understand. They always understand. My worry is that I can never tell if they really resent me under it all and are just trying hard to be politically correct. My mother recently got on my case for putting words in people's mouths and trying to guess people's motivations, but it's hard not to do it.

It probably will be too much to handle, but that leaves me feeling so defeated. Agghh. I don't know! I want to just give it a shot, but college is so darn expensive! :cry:
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by Duckysmom » Mon Jul 24, 2017 3:54 pm

I know it's easier said than done, but I don't think you should feel defeated. You are accomplishing a great deal even if takes you a little longer. I was undiagnosed (misdiagnosed, rather) and it took me 3 years to get my associates degree at a community college. I never was able to finish my 4 year thanks to the bumbling idiots who kept putting me on, then taking me off antidepressants (manic, then depressed, then manic, then depressed - you'd think someone would have noticed the pattern?). I'm 53 now and have a great job with an understanding boss, but I still yearn to complete that degree, majored in English, hoping to teach.

I know this might not apply to you, but my daughter got pregnant in high school. She tried to continue, but being a new mom and a new wife (he begged me to let them get married and raise their son together) was difficult enough on her. She quit school, got a job and said she would get her GED. Then, one day she called me and said she was going back to school. Actually, going back to school! She worked part time, her husband worked full time, they lived with his parents for a while, then with me. My situation changed and they went back to his parents. And she graduated 2 years behind her class. It was one of the proudest moments of her life to walk up to that podium and be handed her diploma, because she struggled and sacrificed to get it. She now takes one class a semester toward her criminal justice degree and doesn't care how long it takes, she's going for it. Even though she works full time now and she has a family to take care of. And she's an excellent mother.

Moral of the story, the goal is in sight. The pride in yourself should be that you have struggled through, gotten this far, and you will feel accomplished and proud of yourself regardless of when you get that diploma. You've had it tough just getting where you are. Be proud of your success thus far and know you CAN finish, even if it is not in your self-imposed time frame.

Your advisor and your pdoc are looking out for your best interests. More stress can bring on more episodes. To fight it out or not is up to you, but if you decide not to, and slow your pace, you are not failing yourself or your family or your sponsor.

I don't know if this helps or not. I'm just offering my perspective. Whatever you decide, it has to be right for you. Take care of you first. The rest will fall into place.
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by Mocha » Mon Jul 24, 2017 8:19 pm

evidenceoflife wrote:My worry is that I can never tell if they really resent me under it all and are just trying hard to be politically correct. My mother recently got on my case for putting words in people's mouths and trying to guess people's motivations, but it's hard not to do it.

sounds like you're projecting your feelings onto your mom and everyone else in your life. There's no way you'll ever really under understand their motivations, except what they tell you, and you're going to have to trust that and them. From what you say, they've stood beside you all this time.......why would things change now?

Are you taking advantage of student accomodations at university?

Btw, many of our members have taken longer than usual to complete their biggie. and they have gone on to have wonderful careers. It is possible, never think it's not. And there's certainly no shame if you do take longer. Absolutely not.

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by AvantGarde » Mon Jul 24, 2017 9:51 pm

Hey there!

Maybe I'm not the best example, but I'm a lifelong student. I have 2 and half degrees already (one of them I'm not going to finish but the others are finished) going for a third. Honestly, I think your issue is the social pressure of finishing college as soon as possible, and it's alright if you don't follow that particular pattern.

If both your pdoc and advisor say you're not in shape to do it, I would listen. Sometimes we give off cues we don't even see but others are more aware. And you don't want to overwhelm yourself anyway, there's no need for it if you can take it slower. Like you and Shawn said, everyone involved will understand.

Take a breath and look at it from another perspective, it's not BP hindering you, it's not that it's difficult, it's that sometimes we need to carry smaller loads to get to the finish line.

All the best :)
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