26 September 2020 - Academic Psychosis

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26 September 2020 - Academic Psychosis

Psychosis (noun): A severe mental disorder in which thought and emotions are so impaired that contact is lost with external reality. (Lexico/Oxford)

I have been less outspoken than usual lately. As in, I haven't been writing as much. Part of this is because of a phase I went through in August where I talked on Discord with a bunch of people, which took up a lot of my time. And then I went a while where that stopped for the most part, but school began. And then the stress of school came back, and I realized nothing had funamentally changed since the prior two three semesters. The stress of school mixed with my burnout, causing me to barely be able to write even a paragraph that wasn't for class, fiction or otherwise. This is not about my blog, although the blog is a part of this, but rather this is about my inability to manage my emotions. Skip to Part II if you don't like history.

Part I: How I Got Here

School hasn't always been such a pain for me. In fact, for most of my life, I was pretty dang good at the whole "school" thing. From the ages of 7-13, I rarely broke a sweat over school stuff. Of course I had my challenges, but I never failed a class until grade 9, ages 14-15. I got 69.4% and, seeing as local colleges require a 70% or above grade, I had to re-take the class. It was that fateful day in late May where I learned failure was possible in school. True failure, not just letting myself or others down. My third year of High School, grade 11, is the one other significant point in my school history. I took physics that year despite not having taken enough math courses to qualify. Somehow, for that class alone, 65% was enough to properly pass for University, and I scraped by with a 68%. I put my all into that class, other aspects of my life (and even other classes somewhat) be damned. I worry this might have broken me.

Since my Physics final, I have not been able to apply myself and put my nose to the grindstone quite like that. It might also be coincindece that the winter of 11th grade was also the point in my life I was most self-deletingly depressed. It might be that seeing my best efforts in one of my favourite classes of all time barely get me by demoralized me. Whatever the case, I was no longer the same. I switched to a different school to gun for a scholarship exclusively there, and Winter 2019 happened. From about December 2018 - March 2019, I was in the longest state of depression in my life. Honestly, I don't think it ended until the middle of summer. For someone who only experienced seasonal depression up to that point, it was brutal. I think I completed 3-4 homework assignments until some point in March. I couldn't find the motivation to care about anything other than maybe video editing for my video production class. My grades were so bad that I was failing English. Failure in the final year meant no redos, and possibly even no diploma. It scared me out of my depression, sorta. (I had to lie to my GP about not wanting to end myself to avoid being sent to a mental hospital in May 2019.) I only ever *barely* passed due to the kindness of my teacher. I remember crying that year more than I had in years. By the end of every week, it seemed, I would have to run to the bathroom to cry my eyes out. I was sad, school made me sad and stressed and scared. I felt like a letdown, a failure, a shadow of my former self. And yet, perhaps it was my former self which left me in such a disastrous state.

I didn't want to go to university. At least, not yet. I only went in order to keep my scholarship. While the April 2019 date that I realized I won 4 tuition-free years was mostly a happy one, I couldn't help but feel some part dissappointment; I had no excuse to postpone school, or at least only go part-time. But I didn't feel ready for school. I didn't feel emotionally developed enough, at least not anymore. But I went anyway, kept the scholarship, and my first semester was middling. Mediocre grades overall, a "B" average if you ignore my one "F". The next semester, Spring 2020, I ended up failing three classes, and I can only partially blame COVID-19. Before the blight struck, I was already in the 20s out of 100% in Spanish, and struggling in at least one of my other three courses. I couldn't take any less courses or risk losing the scholarship, but luckily I was able to nullify those failing grades in a special COVID permission. This semester has been very similar to the prior two despite better planning on my end. While there were other contributing factors every time but the last, the failure always seemed to be on my emotional capability to handle school. With one week to pull out without consequence to my record, I dropped out of all of my classes. It was sad but a relief; "at least it's over," as it were.

Part II: Emotional Degredation

"What does the entry title even mean?" It means that over time, after multiple unfortunately-noteworthy events in my academic life (especially with grades 9 and 11), I now struggle with some pretty bad school-based anxiety that leads me to disassotiation at its worst. I have never let it get as bad as it had at points in my last two years of High School since graduation, but it's still an issue. I have likely had anxiety issues since at least the age of 8, but things got so much worse for me over time, my anxiety's worst-case-scenarios being proven real time and time again. My academic endurance, as in my ability to work on stuff outside of class, has gotten so small that even during a lockdown I am unable to keep up. It is a pity, seeing what I once was, and where I am now.

I guess the only thing to ask is "what now?" What do I do now? Well, my girlfriend is very supportive of me, so I can rely on that. I plan on possibly going part-time to an easier school next semester, which starts about four months from this blog post's publication. I also want to learn more about web development, more about technology, maybe learn "more proper" programming, and possibly even piano. Most importantly, I am going to continue working on myself and my mental health, so that one day I may be able to return to school full-time, maybe even to the same University I enjoyed so much despite everything. One thing I need to keep in mind throughout the next few months is to not worry about productivity; not that productivity is bad, but I should allow myself to do frivolous things, that I should allow myself to learn skills and things that may not be directly applicable to a future career path. "Hey, it's okay if you wanna learn about that thing even if you can't do that for a job!" is a phrase I gotta keep in mind the next few months. I tend to obsess over maximizing efficiency and being as productive as possible, something I lend to my upbringing. For anyone who knows me personally, you know I repeat that last sentence way too often.

Part III: Epilogue

In Part I, I mentioned that I had an English teacher in my last year of high school who was very kind to me. I went through my old yearbook to find her name again. It was a bit painful to go back to that book for even two minutes, but her name is Ms. Holloway. I still remember the last thing she ever said to me. She asked of me, practically begged me, to seek help for my mental health, and to more generally "come by and say hi" to her at some point. The latter is pretty normal, but for the last ever thing for me to hear, a plea from a teacher I liked very much --and whom liked me very much despite everything-- to go get the treatment I needed really impacted me. It hit home how dire my mental situation was, and how much I needed help. It was not okay that I wanted to die so much because of even benign school stress, it was not okay that I could get so stressed out so often to where I would dissosiate or ball my eyes out, it was not okay to be experiencing this sort of obvious psychosis. And the worst part is that in the following year and three months, the most progress I have made on that front has been when I was out of school, left to try and work on myself.

Despite everything, I want to be in school. I want to be in school so damn badly. But it seems that no matter what, I am incapable of being in school without sacrificing all of my interpersonal connections, and possibly my future mental health. I even have one friend who has accidentially proven continuous intense stress can affect one's physical health. I will go back to school some day for reasons beyond appeasing my parents, even if it's a trade school or something. I know I will find what I want to do in school, I just need to get ready first.

Last updated 26 September 2020