I want/need to take some time off from school...

Discussion in 'Mental Health Disorders' started by skyisburning, Nov 4, 2010.

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  1. skyisburning

    skyisburning Well-Known Member

    I am currently wrapping up my first semester of junior year in college, and while a small portion of me feels like I'm finally in the homerun stretch...a larger portion of me is screaming to take a break from school for a while.

    I was mildly depressed before I came to college, but literally with each semester that has gone by, I've gotten more and more depressed. It began slow, and then hit me suddenly last summer/fall. I had to start seeing a therapist and taking anti-depressants, and it still barely put a dent in things. Cut forward to now, I am still on anti-d's, but have quit seeing my therapist because we reached an impasse where I felt she was extremely un-empathetic towards patients and I didn't want to go anymore (I have also yet to find a new therapist because 1-it feels like a waste of time, effort, and money, and 2-I don't like going to a therapist...it makes me feel weak and pathetic).

    Anyway, I feel like I'm getting side-tracked, the point is...like I said, with each semester, things have gotten worse. Last fall was awful, but this past spring semester was.....I just, can't even describe it. I quit sleeping for two months and had pretty much planned out my suicide. The only reason I'm still alive now is because a small string of hope and reason told me to go home for the summer (I had originally planned on staying in the city where I go to school and getting an apartment), otherwise I knew at that point that I would kill myself if I didn't. So I went home, barely worked, got put on Ambien and rockily made my way back into a semi-normal sleep cycle (though, my sleep has never been the same since), recouped and prepared to return, full-force, to school.

    But now that I'm back in school...I'm miserable again. I can't explain it, really. I won't say it's laziness (though I'm sure, of course, a tiny part of it is), because I am someone who values intelligence/education...and even if I quit now, I'd go back someday if I felt the desire and need to.

    There are a few elements that are the most frustrating of all though:
    1. I am a theatre major...and like all art majors, when it comes down to it, I don't care what someone says to you, if you have the talent, passion, dedication, and drive...you don't really need a degree. At least not initially... Most artists only use their degrees many years down the road, as a fall-back tool (which I completely understand); but my point is that you don't HAVE to have a degree to work...
    ...and that makes staying in school hard for me. When I go to class everyday and wonder why the fuck I'm wasting time learning things that 90% I will never need to know/use again... And it feels like every artist's bio that I read (and I'm sure this is my one-track mind pin-pointing specific things) begins with, "[insert name] was attending college at [insert school name], before deciding to drop out and pursue [insert artistic career]."
    Oh, and it also doesn't help that anytime I mention the future/acting/dropping out of school...do people tell me "No! That's a horrible idea!"? No...they usually say, "I don't blame you...I wish I had the balls to do it." and I am constantly reassured (from graduate students who are obviously older/more experienced than me) that I'm beyond good enough to land work. And teachers don't say it, but in acting classes I have gotten extremely high grades and compliments on my work....
    ......so do you see my frustration?! I'm not trying to sound like a conceited prick in all that stuff above, just trying to rationalize why dropping out of school right now wouldn't be the end all, be all for me. But there is still an even bigger (and harder to ignore) reason why I haven't quit school...

    2. I have a full-tuition scholarship. Which is...incredible...I know. And I've been told by numerous people that giving it up would be the dumbest decision of my life, and a huge regret, and etc etc... But I've reached a point in school where I barely care anymore. The only reason I still do semi-well is because I'm the daughter of two teachers and sort of have an "aptitude" for schoolwork...but that's it. I remember just a few days ago, taking a test in my stagecraft class that was INSANELY hard (so hard that we are positive everyone failed it), and afterwards my friend said to me, "Man, I'm worried about that test. I think I failed it, and I really don't want to fail this class." and I replied with, "Shit, I'm worried at how little I care about this class...whether I pass or fail it...I just don't care right now."

    And that's where I'm at. Barely caring about school...busy to the point of never being home, being able to catch up on work, and losing sleep...and even too busy (with classes + play rehearsals) to get a job or socialize out in the community, which is something that I am DYING to do!

    I mean...am I just being a selfish asshole by wanting to take time off from school or quit? I feel SO bad giving that scholarship up...but when I think about spending the next year and a half (or 3 semesters) in school...I want to just lock myself in my bedroom and cry myself into nonexistence. I know the real world sucks...and working sucks...and paying bills sucks....but I also know that even if I quit now, I'd just be taking on the responsibilities I'd have in another year and a half anyway. And I know that quitting school won't solve my problems...I've realized by now that the only thing that can solve them is myself... But I also know that when I think about not going to school, it feels like a huge weight is alleviated off of my shoulders and shackles are taken off my ankles...like I'm free to roam and actually LIVE...something that I don't do often enough, if ever!

    Okay, I'll stop talking now...I'm sorry if this message is confusing or all over the place... I was just trying to be thorough...which is also why it's long (sorry).

    I hope some of you can help me...
    ...I'm really at a loss for anything right now...
  2. Juliaa

    Juliaa Well-Known Member

    I understand where you'e coming from, I desperately want a break from school as well.

    Why don't you see if your college has a counseling center? It's free, at least it is here, so you won't have to worry about money. They can help you.

    I don't have any advice about what you should do with the school situation, because I'm in the same situation, and have no clue as well.

    Maybe you could take a semester off, for medical/mental issues? I don't know if you can do that, but it may be possible.

    Good luck :hug:
  3. Sadeyes

    Sadeyes Staff Alumni

    Hi Sky...so glad you told us what is going on for you...this is the time when many ppl question what they are doing and how is best to get there...if you feel taking time off would be the best, then plan your time wisely...take an acting course or alike so you do not feel that time was wasted...and most importantly, give yourself credit for wanting to see what is best for you and how to get it...that is both a brave and worthy task...best of everything and please continue to let us know what is going on...J
  4. alison

    alison Well-Known Member

    I agree with what Juliaa said - maybe you could look into getting psych leave to take a few semesters off? I was in a similar place to you a few years ago - junior year of undergrad was where my depression started to spiral. I decided to stick it out and graduate, but I'm not sure that was the right decision, because even though I survived, I did begin to adopt more and more maladaptive behaviors/addictions that I'm still working on now. Also, after I graduated I went straight to grad school, and that was when it became to much and I couldn't put off a psych leave any longer.

    Psych leave isn't all that bad! It's officially classified as a 'Medical Leave' - and that is what your records will show. Your professors won't know and will not ask any specifics of that medical leave. And I'm thinking, if you dropped out of school and decided to go back later, your scholarship would be gone, right?. But a medical leave - they might be able to preserve it for when you want to come back.

    Is there a mental health dept at your school? Do you see a counselor at all? Honestly, in the schools I've gone to they've been so easy to work with. If you tell them you think you should take time off because you want to kill yourself - they won't argue with you at all. If your school is anything like mine, that is taken very seriously (when you're in that position it almost feels too seriously, mild suicidal ideation = them wanting you to take a semester off).

    As far as leaving school for good - my initial thought is that its always best to stay in school. But I'm biased - my degree was in engineering and working in that field without a degree is impossible. For you, maybe it is better to go straight to work and not get a degree. I don't really know. You seem like you're doing a really good job talking to lots of people about it. It's nothing to be ashamed of, in fact I think it's really great that you're being this proactive about it. It's ok what you're goign through and getting information is a really great first step!

    Good luck! People at my schools mental health dept and student life dept told me that even though it feels like the hugest thing in the world right now - when it comes down to it, if it takes me a few extra years to finish my degree, it won't really impact my life all that much long-term. But, if I push away help and try to continue my degree while I am really ill, I might not survive it.. and then what's the point? School will always be there when you are ready to work on it. Your health comes first.
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