Monday, July 18, 2011

Back to School... and back to fear.

Tomorrow I'm going to visit UConn Stamford to figure out when and how I'm going to go back to college.
I'm not going to lie... I'm PETRIFIED.

I've had a bad relationship with education.
I grew up bullied in school for being creative and "different" in a snobby town full of clones, but excelled in almost everything.
That all changed when I hit my teenage years.
I started noticing that I had to wrestle with my mind to keep focused. I became easily distracted, and gained a hatred of long-term things, like projects and essays.
Short-term things, I continued to do well at... math problems, standardized tests, short answer questions, and the like.

When I turned 16, it was apparent that something was extremely wrong. Nobody goes from being a straight A student to a kid struggling with their grades without something happening.
Turned out I had two things... major depressive disorder, aka depression, and ADHD-PI.

What's ADHD-PI?
For starters, the PI stands for "predominantly inattentive."

Wikipedia can explain the rest:
ADHD-PI is different from the other subtypes of ADHD in that it is characterized primarily by inattention, easy distractibility, disorganization, procrastination, forgetfulness, and lethargy - fatigue, but with fewer or no symptoms of hyperactivity or impulsiveness typical of the other ADHD subtypes. In some cases, children who enjoy learning may develop a sense of fear when faced with structured or planned work, especially long or group-based that requires extended focus, even if they thoroughly understand the topic. Children with ADHD-PI may be at greater risk of academic failures and early withdrawal from school. Teachers and parents may make incorrect assumptions about the behaviours and attitudes of a child with ADHD-PI, and may provide them with frequent and erroneous negative feedback (e.g. "you're irresponsible", "you're immature", "you're lazy", "you don't care/show any effort", "you just aren't trying", etc.).

The inattentive children may realize on some level that they are somehow different internally from their peers. However, they are also likely to accept and internalize the continuous negative feedback, creating a negative self-image that becomes self-reinforcing. If these children progress into adulthood undiagnosed or untreated, their inattentiveness, ongoing frustrations, and poor self-image frequently create numerous and severe problems maintaining healthy relationships, succeeding in post secondary schooling, or succeeding in the workplace. These problems can compound frustrations and low self-esteem, and will often lead to the development of secondary pathologies including anxiety disorders, sexual promiscuity, mood disorders, and substance abuse.
And there you have it. Me in a nutshell.
When I was officially diagnosed, I was floored. It was like somebody had observed my life and behaviors, and wrote a description of it.
I tried ADD medications, and had horrible heart-related side effects, leading my psychiatrist to scrap the ADD treatment altogether, and go straight for the neck of the depression.
Two years later, I was depression free, and have been ever since.

But what of my education?
I ended up failing classes in high school, and having to take 5 years to graduate what normally takes 4 years.
And if you've been following this blog at all, you know what happened to me in college... my lack of focus and frustration led to getting tons of incompletes, and eventually it was anemia that screwed me completely over.

Like I said, I'm not going to lie...
I'm scared to death of going back to school.
I have nightmares every week about school... elementary school, middle school, high school, college, you name it.
I either am failing, can't remember my schedule, late to class, missing a test, being kicked out of school, having to escape school, being yelled at by a teacher, being tortured by classmates, or the like.
Don't get me wrong, my life is great right now. I'm not depressed at all. At night while I'm asleep, however, my mind likes to dig up crap from the past and taunt me with it. It's like school-induced PTSD.

I'm wrestling right now about going back to college.
I know I can't ever get a job better than dog-washing without a degree, and it's not fair to Jon to not finish college while he works so hard to do so.
But I haven't changed. I can't focus, I hate projects, I drive myself crazy with my forgetfulness and inability to pay attention to things.
I think I need to try medication again... but I'm scared of side-effects too.
It's one evil or another. Failure, or the discomfort of having your brain go haywire from side-effects... a tough choice.

It all scares me.
Life never gets easy, does it?

1 comment:

  1. Major hugs! I have bipolar disorder, so I can empathize, but I have been lucky enough to make wonderful friends in college who help me through. Let me know if there's any support I can provide!