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radicalfeminist

Overwhelmed by the limitations of my illnesses

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I’m currently an undergrad studying English lit. Enrolling in university was a huge step for me and I’m glad I took it but I worry a lot about my future. Tuition isn’t cheap and the amount of debt I’m in is increasing each semester (not that anyone needs to be reminded of that). I’m not sure if English lit is the right major for me, I like to read and write but I don’t know if getting a degree in it will be helpful for my future and eventually getting a full-time job. I also often feel out of place in my classes. The people around me seem so interested and passionate about classical literature, etc. I’d rather stay at home and re-read the same YA lit books I’ve been reading for years.


I’m not passionate about anything save for napping, television show marathons, and Diet Pepsi. Chronic depression zaps my zest for life. I don’t have many options. There are some obvious interests I have like psychology, sociology, women’s studies, social work, political science, but none of these lead to a career that I feel I can handle. I don’t want to be a professor or go into academic research. Psychology and social work – I love these in theory, but in practice, I’m not sure I am capable of handling the kind of intense human interaction that is generally involved.  I’m a very rigid and anxious person. My strong suits are reading and writing. I’m very terrible at maths and hard sciences (serious dyscalculia), and dealing with people (just socially inept in general).

 

Can anyone relate? 

Edited by radicalfeminist

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i can relate. i graduated college two years ago and i'm in a ridiculous amount of debt. i tried to study something that i thought i was most passionate about (biology). thankfully, i got a full-time job. i know i don't want to have that job forever, so i'm trying to think of other paths i want to go. and i have absolutely no idea. i'm not a people person, either.

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Uhm, yeah, you just described me completely but replace English lit with sociology. I can definitely relate. I have a lot of student loan debt already and I still have a year and a half of undergrad left. Even though I've been in college continuously since fall 2008- I have a LOT of wasted semesters full of mania and depression, and incomplete or dropped classes. This semester I'm paying for 2 classes out of my own pocket because after last semester my financial aid and student loans were canceled until I complete and perform well in a semester taking at least 6 hours. For a long time I didn't know why I was still doing this, but lately I've got some of my motivation and stubbornness back and I'm determined to graduate, though after that is a different story. I can't imagine a career or job I won't fail at. 

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I'm not sure to feel relieved that I'm not the only one in this situation or feel bad that other people are going through the same struggles. I think I feel a bit of both at the moment. 

 

dancingteapot - It makes me hopeful that you were able to secure a job at least.

 

hagar - Yeah, what you're describing is/was identical to my college experience a couple years ago until I dropped out for good. I was accepted by the university I go to now on a mature student basis. Even if I complete my undergrad degree, my options for MA programs are limited because I have zero extracurricular activities and personal references to account for (I generally do not interact with professors unless it's absolutely unavoidable) and my grades go up and down. And if I do get into a graduate program, I feel like it will just be a waste of time and money. English degrees don't exactly open many doors and like I said I'm not passionate about studying English is an academic capacity (yet here I am, English major).

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There are two things that come to mind for me as I read your post.

The first is whether/how your depression is playing into this. If you are truly depressed to the point where you feel no interest in anything, you are not being adequately treated, and this is something that will need to be remedied before you can really figure out what you should be doing academically.

I know that you are seeing a psychiatrist, but are you in therapy? And is your medication properly sorted out?

The second is that you could do with some career counselling to potentially give you some ideas about what might be available and interesting to you. Is there any kind of career counselling available at your school? Many universities have them, and the counsellors there can be quite helpful in terms of working out what you might be suited to.

I would agree that doing a degree without a clear idea of what will come after, especially if you are going into a great deal of debt to do so, may not be the wisest move.

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This is gonna be a feel-good post, cause I'm an optimistic person.

 

I can relate somewhat. I am actually very passionate about my major, which is Nursing. So, I'm lucky that I'm studying something I love that will get me a decent job. 

 

However, I understand the feeling of being held back by your illnesses. I suffer from a severe learning disability called Mathematics Disorder (also called dyscalculia). While I love nursing and I definitely want to be a nurse, it's my learning disability that stops me from studying medicine instead. 

 

In nursing, there are dosage calculations that you must be able to do without a calculator. That is practically impossible for me. I passed the dosage calculation exam by the skin of my teeth. But I'm determined not to let my disability keep me from a career that I love. I study math everyday to make sure that I'm proficient. Even if it means having to go over the same simple concepts (fuck you long division) again and again, I do it to make sure that I can provide competent, safe care to my patients. Mathematics Disorder will not beat me!! 

 

Radicalfeminist, I completely understand where you're coming from. I understand the fear and shame of having this disorder. I know you're better at reading and writing but, if you think you might want to try hard sciences, you go for it!! It will take you longer and it will take more work on your part, but I think you can do it. My case is very severe, and I never thought it would be possible to get into nursing school, but I did, and I'm thriving. 

 

I also have schizoaffective and it's affected my school work. My residual psychotic symptoms leave me drained and contribute to burn out. When I was depressed, my grades plummeted (thankfully my hypomanic grades saved my GPA). But again, I try very hard not to let my schizoaffective hold me back.

 

During an episode, especially of psychosis, I become extremely frustrated over how much control these illnesses have over my life. But, I'm determined not to let my illnesses have complete control over my life. I try to take care of myself mentally and physically and take breaks when I need them. I need accommodations to thrive, but thrive I will. 

 

Kay, maybe that was all too mushy. TL;DR: Mathematics Disorder and mental illness is a terrible thing. But if you can take care of yourself and get help when you need it, I think you can have a meaningful life, whatever that may be to you. 

 

I agree with tryp that perhaps depression is contributing to your apathy. I think you need to get that controlled before you can move forward. Career counselling is an excellent idea. 

Edited by Parapluie

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There are two things that come to mind for me as I read your post.

The first is whether/how your depression is playing into this. If you are truly depressed to the point where you feel no interest in anything, you are not being adequately treated, and this is something that will need to be remedied before you can really figure out what you should be doing academically.

I know that you are seeing a psychiatrist, but are you in therapy? And is your medication properly sorted out?

The second is that you could do with some career counselling to potentially give you some ideas about what might be available and interesting to you. Is there any kind of career counselling available at your school? Many universities have them, and the counsellors there can be quite helpful in terms of working out what you might be suited to.

I would agree that doing a degree without a clear idea of what will come after, especially if you are going into a great deal of debt to do so, may not be the wisest move.

 

 

Thanks for responding! I find everyone on this forum very insightful and willing to share their own experiences and advice, and it’s a good resource for me because I don’t often talk to people offline.

 

I’ve been treated off and on for many years and I’m not sure why my depression never lifts while therapy and medication treats my other illnesses affectively. I unfortunately have a difficult time with communicating, I especially seem to have many mental blocks that seem to prevent me from being able to divulge on personal matters, and listen to others as well. My psychiatrist pokes and prods and I know it might seem like I’m being deliberately obstinate but sometimes I just can’t express myself to him. I’ve never had success with psychiatrists for some reason, and changing mine right now is not an option for me. I know that I have to try to assert myself and express my concerns clearly, but it’s a lot of difficulty and I’ve been seeing him for three years, change is hard for me.

 

I’m not in individualized therapy. I have a group therapy meeting once a week (OCD treatment). I have a hard time expressing myself there as well because I’m not familiar with the psychologists that run it and I don’t do great in group settings. Medication is a work in progress. Every time I see him he adjusts it or gives me options for new meds, but I get overwhelmed. I had an individual therapist for a year and a half but she was an intern completing her PHD. I liked her a lot and felt that she was amazing at her job, but I had no choice but to stop seeing her as she had finished her residency. Since then I’ve not had another psychologist. It’s difficult because if I do get assigned one, she/he will most likely be an intern (as that is the nature of this free clinic) and that means she will also be leaving within a period of time. It takes about a year for me to even be comfortable enough to answer questions appropriately.

I’ve thought about career counselling, but I don’t know how well I would be able to express my concerns about my academic future and career possibilities. I know it’s something I need to work on.  :unsure:

Edited by radicalfeminist

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This is gonna be a feel-good post, cause I'm an optimistic person.

 

I can relate somewhat. I am actually very passionate about my major, which is Nursing. So, I'm lucky that I'm studying something I love that will get me a decent job. 

 

However, I understand the feeling of being held back by your illnesses. I suffer from a severe learning disability called Mathematics Disorder (also called dyscalculia). While I love nursing and I definitely want to be a nurse, it's my learning disability that stops me from studying medicine instead. 

 

In nursing, there are dosage calculations that you must be able to do without a calculator. That is practically impossible for me. I passed the dosage calculation exam by the skin of my teeth. But I'm determined not to let my disability keep me from a career that I love. I study math everyday to make sure that I'm proficient. Even if it means having to go over the same simple concepts (fuck you long division) again and again, I do it to make sure that I can provide competent, safe care to my patients. Mathematics Disorder will not beat me!! 

 

Radicalfeminist, I completely understand where you're coming from. I understand the fear and shame of having this disorder. I know you're better at reading and writing but, if you think you might want to try hard sciences, you go for it!! It will take you longer and it will take more work on your part, but I think you can do it. My case is very severe, and I never thought it would be possible to get into nursing school, but I did, and I'm thriving. 

 

I also have schizoaffective and it's affected my school work. My residual psychotic symptoms leave me drained and contribute to burn out. When I was depressed, my grades plummeted (thankfully my hypomanic grades saved my GPA). But again, I try very hard not to let my schizoaffective hold me back.

 

During an episode, especially of psychosis, I become extremely frustrated over how much control these illnesses have over my life. But, I'm determined not to let my illnesses have complete control over my life. I try to take care of myself mentally and physically and take breaks when I need them. I need accommodations to thrive, but thrive I will. 

 

Kay, maybe that was all too mushy. TL;DR: Mathematics Disorder and mental illness is a terrible thing. But if you can take care of yourself and get help when you need it, I think you can have a meaningful life, whatever that may be to you. 

 

I agree with tryp that perhaps depression is contributing to your apathy. I think you need to get that controlled before you can move forward. Career counselling is an excellent idea. 

 

 

Let me just say I appreciate the optimism and the understanding. People don’t really understand what dyscalculia is and often

scoff at the thought of it because “most people are bad at math.” They don’t realize that a learning disability is not equal to “being bad at _____.” I admire your perseverance because I know firsthand how hard it is. I barely passed high school maths and even feel like breaking down upon seeing charts, graphs, and statistics in any of my courses. I don’t have that capability that you have, I don’t think. I have a hard time sticking to something if I find it difficult or have no interest. This extends to more than just math (although it’s worse when it comes to math because I’m actually terrible at it). My motivation levels wax and wane enough so that it’s even difficult to finish books that I chose to read for my personal pleasure. I understand that if my depression ever fully or mostly lifts that I might have a different attitude about my abilities or lack thereof. I just have no experience with not being depressed or apathetic.

I think the issue is just that I don’t see how I’ll fit into any discipline/field of study/field of employment where I would feel competent and get enjoyment out of it.

Edited by radicalfeminist

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Are you going to University for a future potential job or to expand on your desire to read and write?

 

This is a critical question these days. And a liberal arts degree does not always equate a job.

 

That said, I felt that reading and writing were the only things I was good at. I majored in English and minored in Art. After graduation I had no idea what I wanted to do for money and after a few months of searching I got an entry-level job with an insurance company. It was a good ride until my crazy went into high-drive. By that time I had also paid off most of my student loans, some of my divorce settlement paid the rest. :)

 

db

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Both. Sort of. Improving my writing skills is an interest of mine for sure, but I also want to study something that will lead to employment options, too. My original vague plan was that I could get an undergrad degree in English (with a focus on professional writing--my university offers that), then get a Master's in English or editing/publishing and then go from there and get a job as a technical writer or copy editor or something similar. But I know that that there are not a ton of jobs in that field and it might be awhile if I can get a job (if I can at all). And I don't know if that's something I really want to do in the long-term and most minimum wage/entry level jobs would be a struggle for me because of social anxiety, the aforementioned dyscalculia, sensory overload, etc. The last time I tried to get a part-time job after acquaintances told me it was a basic job that you could not mess up, I had a meltdown during the training session and that ended very badly. I lost money in the process of trying to get employed.  -_-

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