The Fear of Going Back to College When You Have Major Depressive Disorder

Posted on January 7, 2017

This story was originally published on The Mighty, a digital health community created to empower and connect people facing health challenges and disabilities.

By Awa Lamare

This week I leave for China, where I am going to be teaching English. It has taken me almost two years to get here. Sometimes, I feel a little disappointed because my plan was to do this sooner, but it didn’t happen that way.

 

Two years ago, I wasn’t going anywhere. I was just kind of there to be there, and I wasn’t happy with it. A counselor introduced me to a program that helps people like me with major depressive disorder (MAD) and other mental health challenges go back to school. I wanted to go to graduate school but didn’t know how. The program helped me build important skills and gave me more confidence.

 

When I finished the program, I was still feeling unsure about what to do. I knew I wanted to go to graduate school, but I didn’t know what to go to school for. I still didn’t have a clear idea of what I wanted to do, and I didn’t know what was going to happen when I went back to school. Would I be OK? I worry about these things. I wasn’t sure I could.

 

I started researching schools and programs to really figure out how I was going to go back to school. I saw what schools expected from a student, and I felt I didn’t measure up. At the same time, I was taking a few courses in continuing education while doing part-time work. As I was doing this, I realized China was somewhere I was also interested in traveling to. If I could get experience in China, then that could help me go back to school. I felt if I had more experience, then I would have what I needed to allow me to be accepted at the schools I was thinking about.

 

I still wasn’t sure. My coaches in the program told me to go for it. I was like, “I tried once before, and it didn’t work out.” I didn’t want to try again because I thought if I try, then I’m going to fail. However, my coaches said just because you fail one time doesn’t mean everything is going to fail as well. You might have setbacks but those are still just setbacks. You can try again and still move forward.

 

First, I had to get my teaching certificate, which I got in May/June. After that, I started doing the applications for China, which were pretty long. A few companies contacted me, which didn't really work out, but I continued to apply. This fall, around October, I heard from the company I am going to be working for, and later this week, I leave. I can't believe it!

I have learned things don't always fall on the timeline you want them to. I really wanted to start graduate school, but there were so many steps and things I needed to take care of first. Sometimes, I get discouraged and ask myself why would I even want to try when it won't happen the way I thought it would happen. However, then something good happens, and I understand.

“You might have setbacks, but those are still just setbacks. You can try again and still move forward.” - Shannon Pagdon, College Re-entry Alumna

My advice to others who think they can't do it or that nothing will change is to continue to take each breath. The possibility exists in the fact that things are constantly changing and that things are different, even if you can't see it yourself. So, take that one step. If you're like me, then it's into a program like the Fountain House's College Re-Entry Program or you can just ask someone for help.

Whatever it is, take that one step. Go and just give it a chance. Change won't happen overnight, and you'll still have moments where you ask, "What am I doing?" In time, you'll start to slowly see things change.

Look at me. I'm going to China!

 

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