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I am a first year graduate student getting a Master of Fine Art. I am so excited to be in the program... I have a teaching assistantship, so it is a dream come true, especially after having a couple of psychotic breaks recently.

However I have had a TERRIBLE time socially. I moved with my girlfriend who is rightly very strict about not wanting me to drink (I am on risperdone for schizoaffective disorder which interferes with alcohol use) so I can't drink. Not drinking has made me feel a bit like an outsider in that I don't want to be in bars because I know I will drink. I don't usually enjoy going to bars anyway unless I go with a group I'm pretty familiar with, though. I have posted about this some already.

Anyway, I have been working in the art studio... they are almost like art studio cubicles in that there are a lot in one room without full lenth walls... about thirty of them in one space... And I have literally overheard someone in the next studio talking about me, which has made me paranoid a lot of the time when I hear conversations going on in the room. I am not sure if this means I should increase my meds... Even if I don't have paranoia attached to overhearing coversations I find them distracting and I dislike other people being able to overhear my meetings with professors. I also HATE that every time I want to go in and work it means that I have to be social and make small talk with people I don't know very well... And I am so bad at small talk, etc. as I am very shy.

I feel like such a prude compared to all of my classmates in that I am solitary and do not want to party... especially because I'm afraid of getting myself in a situation that might trigger psychosis. I have my girlfriend at least which keeps me grounded. I sometimes want to confide in people about my mental illness but have not and don't know if I will unless I have to.

I also have felt fairly sensitive in critiques more so than in the past. At the graduate level people are more critical of your work and I am having a harder time dealing with it than I thought I would.

Okay, That's about it. I wonder if I am crazy for attempting this degree given that I had a psychotic break about a year ago (was off my meds then) and then a shorter one that did not require hospitalization about a month and a half ago. I am really afraid that the strain of the program will make me crumple and that I won't be able to finish the degree becase I might end up in the hospital or something.

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Hi -

I have deleted your duplicate post. Please only post your topic in one sub-forum. Just make your best guess about where it belongs, and if we think it would get more replies elsewhere, a moderator will move it for you.

Thanks :)

Tryp

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Hi -

I have deleted your duplicate post. Please only post your topic in one sub-forum. Just make your best guess about where it belongs, and if we think it would get more replies elsewhere, a moderator will move it for you.

Thanks :)

Tryp

Could you move the post into the Schizophrenia subsection? I meant to copy and paste it after a while but for some reason my computer would not let me do that until I submitted it.

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Why do you think that a hospitalization would mean that you wouldn't be able to finish your degree? Usually, schools are fairly sensitive to such problems and there are academic leaves of absence that you could take in the event that you needed to. Don't worry so much and just enjoy your time in art school.

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Guest Vapourware

I can relate to your post to an extent - I feel that way in my class too, and I'm not good at small talk either so I tend to exist in my own bubble, which probably makes it even worse for me. I also feel somewhat isolated from the rest of my classmates because I am, in some regards, "different" from the majority of people in the course.

That work environment sounds difficult but I guess that happens when you have to share studio space. Perhaps that person who mentioned you in conversation wasn't talking about you in a malicious manner. I wonder if you can bring headphones in when you have to work in the studio space, so you don't have to hear the other conversations happening.

With going to bars and the like, do you think you can bring your girlfriend with you? I find that it's pretty acceptable nowadays to be at a bar and not drink alcohol. Personally, most times that I go to a bar, I drink non-alcoholic drinks and no-one bats an eyelid.

Unfortunately in creative fields like art, your work is going to come under critique. Sometimes the critique can be pretty hurtful because sometimes your peers won't hold back. Have you spoken to your supervisors about how you feel about it? It's best to get it out of the way when you first start, rather than have it fester. Perhaps they know some coping strategies and can also empathise with your experiences.

How much support are you receiving from your university? Have you registered with the disabilities/equities office, for instance? Do your supervisors know of your condition? IMO those supports are pretty important.

Most of all, perhaps just taking it one day at a time instead of thinking that you will relapse will help you get through the course. Good luck and I hope you can enjoy your time in your course.

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Unfortunately in creative fields like art, your work is going to come under critique. Sometimes the critique can be pretty hurtful because sometimes your peers won't hold back. Have you spoken to your supervisors about how you feel about it? It's best to get it out of the way when you first start, rather than have it fester. Perhaps they know some coping strategies and can also empathise with your experiences.

I

How much support are you receiving from your university? Have you registered with the disabilities/equities office, for instance? Do your supervisors know of your condition? IMO those supports are pretty important.

Most of all, perhaps just taking it one day at a time instead of thinking that you will relapse will help you get through the course. Good luck and I hope you can enjoy your time in your course.

Thanks for the suggestions. This is really helpful.

It hadn't occurred to me to talk to register with the disabilities/equities office. I did not know this existed at all. I have been debating if I should tell any of my profs about my mental illness. I was thinking of talking to the graduate student coordinator and maybe eventually the prof that I'm working with the most. I am a bit hesitant though as I have found this type of illness carries a stigma with it as it is considered pretty serious.

I am feeling better since writing this post... This anxiety seems to come in waves. Went to an event last night with my classmates which made me feel better about being around them, and made me realize that to some extent everyone is going through the same awkward feelings as well.

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Guest Vapourware

Personally, I've found the equities office at my university to be quite helpful. They've given me a laundry list of accommodations to help me, and while I hope I don't have to use them, it's good to have them in my back pocket. At least where I am, the equities office lets the department head know what students have an equity plan, but the actual nature of the condition is kept confidential. Another benefit of having the equities office is that when shit does hit the fan, you can liaise with them and they can liaise directly with your lecturers, so you don't have to do any running around. Instead, you can focus on getting well while the equities people can sort out extensions and the like, if required.

Whether or not you choose to disclose your actual condition to your lecturers is up to you. I tend to find that people don't really care about the name of the condition that you have, but are more interested in finding solutions. For instance, what would you like done when you are getting depressed/manic/psychotic, etc.? Or you can just stick to saying you have a medical condition and view it in terms of solutions only.

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When off, I can feel a bit paranoid about people as well, which can be unpleasant, yes. Particularly if coupled with social shyness. When I get depressed is when I become the most paranoid. However, I have genuinely found that my paranoia is usually not justified. I remember a really bad slightly psychotic depression where I was working on a treatment team that the head of the program joined for 6 weeks to see how it was functioning, and I was totally paranoid that I would be fired due to my total inefficiency and lack of efficacy. Afterwards, my supervisor told me the head of the program came to him and said what a great therapist I was and how well I cared for my patients and worked with the team, and that I was awesome basically. So go figure. I find that my reality inside my head often does NOT match what is going on outside it.

That said, if things are interfering too much, getting disability services involved is a fine idea.

I'm lucky at the job I have that I'm "out" (heh, I basically had no choice, as my stepdad worked there and my boss already knew I was BP). However, she hired me anyway, and is actually rather protective and kind to me, and has never been anything but supportive of my need for accomodations. So that has worked well. Really, it's important to remember that these things can turn out well. That said, if you are uncomfortable revealing your diagnosis or specific disability, don't do it. You can stick to just the accomodations you need. And you may not need them all the time, as if you become less episodic, you may come to find the shared space useful and fun, over time, provided you are less stressed.

But do what you can to take care of yourself as needed. You are worth it. And no, you aren't crazy to start school again, truly. If I let my illness manage my life rather than the reverse, I would never have gotten anything accomplished in life at all.

Best of luck,

Anna

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Thanks everyone.

Yes, 9 out of 10 times my paranoia seems to not be justified... and the few times that it is, I am usually just taking something too personally or blowing it out of proportion.

Headphones... my brother just sent me his I-pod shuffle in the mail today for that purpose.

I really really hope school is not interrupted because of psychosis but if it is I guess I can find a way to deal with it and the school will certainly be able to work with me (although I am a bit afraid of losing my scholarship.)

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Going at it from another angle, I get the impression your girlfriend is important to you. Make sure you keep her happy and not take her for granted, finding someone to put up with you (you as in any person in the world) is a rare thing but having someone to rely on when you are chest deep in MI is a n even rarer thing. Also, try to build a support system of people you trust starting with her and for God's sake stay on your meds. Good luck at the disability's office!

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I have an arts education...

critique is better when it's more intense. you're there to learn- you want to be a professional- clients are going to be a hundred times worse than the people critiquing you now. and it's not because you're doing things incorrectly but it is because you're creating for other people's eyes, so you have to know good or bad,how they're seeing it.

I work in a similar studio setup right now. I have found that once I'm esconced in my workspace I immediately put on my noise-cancelling headphones. this shuts out a lot of the crap.

good luck. the final stages of an art degree are tough on even the most egotistal normie. it's worth it though.

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Going at it from another angle, I get the impression your girlfriend is important to you. Make sure you keep her happy and not take her for granted, finding someone to put up with you (you as in any person in the world) is a rare thing but having someone to rely on when you are chest deep in MI is a n even rarer thing. Also, try to build a support system of people you trust starting with her and for God's sake stay on your meds. Good luck at the disability's office!

Good advice. I know it isn't easy for her, even as she has been the target of paranoia once or twice.

About critiques... I think this will be something I get used to as time goes on and I get a more solid footing with a new body of work. But you're right, I really should be grateful for the feedback.

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