Photo of me raising the roof as I walk towards Washington State University President Elson Floyd, 2011
Getting into USC for undergrad was a dream come true. But soon though life caught up with me and I was faced with a choice. My boyfriend of 7 years had a football scholarship at WSU but struggled when he was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis. He remained on scholarship, but could not play. Long distance was hard enough, so when he was faced with this terribly painful illness I decided to transfer.
People scoff at me sometimes. How could I leave one of the best schools in sunny Los Angeles? I don’t know, it just seemed right. My relationship with Eric was of paramount importance to me. Knowing that he was struggling in extension made me struggle. On top of that I was having a hard time down there. Sure the parties were fun, I was making some new friends, and my grades were okay but nothing special, but I was experiencing more anxiety than I ever had before. I was always worried. Stressed. As many students are. Transferring to be with Eric meant going home. Eric was my home.
Living with Eric was fun. I was with my best friend all the time. But I had unknowingly onset bipolar around this time and began to experience by first serious bouts of depression. While class was a very engaging outlet for me, transferring took my social life away. I didn’t have many friends at WSU and I wasn’t apart of the mainstream social flow anymore. I had Eric and a few friends, but no more than that. As a very social person, I was suffocating.
Nauseated by anxiety, I spent countless nights falling asleep over the toilet. I would wake up sometime during the early hours of the morning and move into the bed. Sometimes when I did sleep in bed I woke up in fits of terror. The screaming would wake up Eric, who would roll over and hug me tight until I could fall asleep again. Other times if I had a big paper due I stayed up all night in front of my laptop, books everywhere. I did some of my best work then.
Other times I slept for days, avoiding life. It took everything in me to pull on sweats and go to the grocery store or Blockbuster or to grab takeout of our favorite Chinese restaurant. I was definitely unhappy.
I called my mom during a breakdown in last semester of my final year. Please I don’t want to be here anymore. Let me drop out, I begged. After talking it over, my parents asked me to please just graduate. I was so close. So I did.
Shortly after this, I visited the school’s mental health services upon the suggestion of a trusted professor. The therapist said she could see the physical toll of depression. It was very clear to her. I was wilting, unkempt. She wanted me too see a doctor. So I did.
The doctor suspected I had Bipolar Disorder and prescribed me something. I phoned my parents. They were worried about this diagnosis and the medication involved so they asked me to get a second opinion. So I did.
I found a psychologist independent of the university. He put me through a handful of tests. He concluded that I was very sensitive. I needed to take care of my body and my mind would follow. Relieved, I threw away my meds and moved forward as if I was “sensitive”. But I wasn’t.
That spring I walked to get my diploma. I couldn’t be more proud of my academic achievements. I also wish with all my heart I had gotten more opinions from psychiatrists.