I Took A Semester Off Because Mental Health Is More Important Than College

I Took A Semester Off Because Mental Health Is More Important Than College

Even though I'm not taking classes this semester, I am truly happy with my life — and that's what matters.
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If you told the 17-year-old version of me that I would take a semester off of college, I never would have believed you. I just simply wasn't the type. I was a straight A student in high school, took 5 AP classes (and passed all 5 AP exams), and graduated with honors.

Flash forward to two years later, I've completed four semesters of my Communication undergraduate at Curry College in Milton, Massachusetts. At Curry, I was a Communication Scholar in an LLC (Living Learning Community) and joined Curry Odyssey as a Contributing Editor. (Since then, I've been promoted to Editor-in-Chief.)

There were some things I loved about Curry.The class sizes were small, and almost every face became familiar within the first year. I formed meaningful connections with professors, classmates, and campus staff.

But I was bullied. Relentlessly. I didn't think bullying existed past high school, but boy, was I wrong. I was bullied worse in college than I ever was before.

I went to my most trusted professors about what I was going through in and outside of class, and in the dorms. I was referred to the dean, but got nowhere.

The way my roommate treated me was the worst of all. It got to the point where she left me a threatening note, and I was forced to move out of our room in the middle of the first semester. She does something threatening, and I have to move out? Yeah, it didn't make sense.

Residence Life insisted that they had no rooms for me to move into, even though I knew for a fact there were designated empty rooms in every residence hall for crisis situations like this. I fought them for four days — until I was finally given keys to an empty room in the same building, but on a different floor. My college best friend, also in my LLC, happily moved in with me so I wouldn't be alone.

Just when it felt like things were coming together, I was ceremoniously, socially rejected from my LLC, my supposed "family" on campus, because I simply didn't fit in.

I thought sophomore year would be easier, but things only got worse. I discovered that my concentration in the Communication major, which was Journalism, was eradicated, and the classes to fulfill that concentration had been removed from the college.

The worse part was, though, this happened BEFORE I entered Curry as a freshman. For two years, I was lied to by the administration, and the same professors I trusted, about a program I thought I was enrolled in, that turned out didn't even exist.

This happened at about the same time that I took my first journalism class, the only one still in existence at Curry, open to anyone to take for 3 credits in Communication. The class was taught by a full-time journalist at the Boston Herald - this was the real deal. And I'm aware it's these types of connections that makes Curry attractive to students focused on getting real-life experience from the post-graduate world.

While I adored my professor, the truths she told about working as a journalist, and the horror stories she shared, completely turned me off to journalism. I realized, more than halfway through my college career (thanks to those AP credits!) that what I thought I wanted to do with my life, wasn't what I wanted to do at all.

That was about the same time when the very best friend who supported me all of freshman year, and stood by me even when no one else did, dumped me as a friend. The same girl who moved in with me freshman year was now moving out less than a year later.

I entered a bit of a mid-college crisis. I considered changing my major, leaving Curry, starting over. My friend group diminished completely, and I spent entire weekends alone. When I was with other people, I felt so unwanted and lonely. It didn't help that in my two years at Curry, I went through my fair share of vicious breakups, but that could have happened anywhere.

I am almost positive that the torture I endured at Curry was largely specific to the place, because anyone I speak to from high school carries no such horror stories from their own colleges. I was often left wondering, "what's wrong with me?"

I spent months weighing the pros and cons of leaving Curry. But after being screwed over by Curry for my housing selection, course selection, and my financial aid, I had finally had enough.

After completing my sophomore year, I moved home, waited to receive my grades, then I officially withdrew from Curry. I got a full-time job that I love. I have a very loving boyfriend and am very happy with our serious relationship. My childhood best friend moved back home. And even though I'm not taking classes this semester, I am truly happy with my life — and that's what matters.

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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An Open Letter To The Judgmental People In My Hometown

Imperfections are what gives a diamond its value.
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Dear judgemental, simple minded people from my hometown,

I am sorry that I have never met your level of perfection.

Coming from a small town, everyone settles to the norm of the people around them. Unlike you all, I have always been a little bit different.

I've never understood why everyone always seems to feel the need to talk down to the next person. People love to gossip about a situation as long as the situation has nothing to do with them. For every move I made, someone was always there to bring out the negativity in the situation. You all are always sweeping around somebody else's doorstep when I know your doorstep is not clean. Maybe it is time to buy a new broom. I know that I cannot please everybody and that I will also not be liked by everybody. However, I deserve respect just as the next person.

SEE ALSO: Forgiving Someone Who Didn't Ask For It

I hope for the sake of the future generations of our small town, you all can learn to be more accepting to change.

I hope that no one judges your children like some of you all have judged me. I hope that the people that you love and care about are welcomed and accepted for who they are.

If we put as much time into being better people or helping others like you put into judging others, the world would be a much better place.

Imperfections are what gives a diamond its value. Pebbles are perfectly round. I'd much rather be a diamond, one in a million, than a pebble that fits in.

Sincerely,

The one whose every move you criticize

Cover Image Credit: Haley Williamson

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If Hashbrowns Were Heroin, I'd Be Dead

I hit rock bottom with binge-eating on a Tuesday morning before class. I am proof that it can happen anywhere and any time.

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I loved hashbrowns.

My Mom used to make them by cutting up chunks of potatoes and frying them to a crisp in a pot. I never really went crazy on them but they were always my favorite part of a homemade breakfast. Eggs were always a little too soft to be my favorite.

When mornings were really busy before elementary school we would go through the McDonald's drive through and order hash browns and egg McMuffins. Eventually, I started not wanting the sandwich. I just wanted hash browns. I could eat 2, 4, 5? I was only 7? 8?

Hot, salty, soft on the inside and crispy on the outside. I remember why I loved them.

I also remember holding the bag in my lap until we got to before-school care and seeing that the oil from the food had leaked out onto the bag, and onto my pants, and hoping it would dry. I didn't care. I still couldn't wait.

I managed to stay away for a long time after learning that these kinds of fried foods are just plain bad for you. Like cancer-causing, heart attack-causing bad. Not "bad" like I would be a bad person for eating them, although eventually, I felt that way too.

When my commute to school became over an hour, and I had 8 a.m. classes, I struggled. I struggled with the change, the demands of full-time school and work, and the growing compulsion to eat that came with it. I wonder if when you read this you will realize that this was only a year ago, and that I am still trying to heal from this. I wonder if you will be surprised that even though I am nutrition student, and I've lost a lot of weight, and I've created a life of love and intention, that I found myself in the McDonald's drive-through.

The first time I was starving. It was 7:30 a.m and I hadn't had a lot of dinner the night before. I was stressed, and sad. I was dieting on Whole 30. I felt the intensity of my own shortcomings. I told myself, "Just this one time." If it hadn't been a decision, it would have been an accident.

I wasn't a regular. I just went occasionally. I lied to myself a lot about how often I found myself showing up for hash browns.

I would tell myself the entire drive to school that I would NOT stop. I would go straight to school and find something healthy at the grocery store later. I could manage my hunger for the morning until after class. I stopped. I swear sometimes that my steering wheel turned of its own accord. To this day, I can't really explain it.

McDonald's enters their orders of hash brown in a very tricky way. One "order" of hash browns is two hash browns. The first time I realized that there were four hash browns in my bag, I thought it was an accident. I looked at my receipt and realized I had gotten what I paid for, and wondered why I wasn't even paying attention to what I was paying for. I decided I didn't care. I ate them.

Another time after that, I decided to see what I could get away with. I ordered three hash browns. I wanted to see if I would get three or six. It was like a mental game. I wasn't ordering six hash browns, if I got six it would be a mistake. I had a problem. I was disappointed when I received three. The next time, I ordered four.

That day, I received 8 hash browns. I remembered feeling like if I stretched myself any further across my schedule, I would just rip. I would fray. Shred. My seams would come undone and I would just float away. I think that day it finally happened.

I wasn't there.

I wasn't there when I ate them. It must have taken me all the way from the time I received them, until after I parked on campus, maybe 15 minutes to eat them all. I can't remember. It wasn't me.

I was the one watching the wrappers pile up.

I was the one watching the grease stain spread on the brown bag.

I was the one who was late to class. I was the one screaming to stop and get my ass out of the car.

I was the one who woke up in my car an hour later, ready for class, with a neat plastic bag of trash that included a hidden and tiny crumpled McDonald's bag.

I felt sick. Dangerously ill. I had a headache, a stomachache, a soul-ache. I felt low. Lower than any other time.

I felt like an absolute failure. Every mean thing anyone ever said about me, every mean thing I ever thought about myself, it was all true. I had made it true.

I was alone, ashamed, and sick.

If hash browns were heroin, I'd be dead.

Binge-eating wasn't a big part of my history, but it created a landmark in my life that I will not soon forget.

I think it's important to say that this event was not about the food. It happened because I was not emotionally well. I was not talking about my feelings. I was lonely. I was feeling sad. I was dieting. I was trying to control every aspect of my life to keep it from hurting me. I was hanging on so tightly to everything else, that I ended up losing control and hurting myself.

I was ignoring my mental health and it demanded my attention through disordered eating.

If you take anything from this story, please be reminded that your mental health comes first.

Get help with the heavy stuff. Get help, period.

You can chat with someone from the National Eating Disorder Association online to ask for help.

You can text NEDA to 741741 for help in a crisis.

You can call NEDA at (800)-931-2237.

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