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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How My Diabetes Taught Me That Worry Is Pointless

My life is in the hands of the Creator.
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I am slowly running out of test strips.

Funny story about my prescription: It only ever refills once a month. So I'm attempting to make them stretch. Here's the problem with that one, though: I'm a paranoid diabetic.

My insulin dosage changed about a month ago. I was taking my long-lasting stuff right before I went to bed, so I was used to waking up in the middle of the night in the sixties or fifties. So, every time I woke up, I'd take my blood sugar, just to make sure. Since then, I've gone back to taking the long-lasting insulin in the morning, and my numbers have, overall, gotten better. I'm usually fairly solidly in the middle zone I need to be.

But I still check my blood sugar constantly.

See, the other day, I took a two-hour nap after one of my classes. I was at 204 when I went down (so not good, but also not really likely I'm going to slip low while I'm asleep). I woke up at 48. For those of you who aren't familiar with proper numbers for diabetes, that's really flipping low. In fact, I haven't been that low yet in the two years I've been diabetic.

Ever since I've been paranoid. I take my blood sugar every time I feel the slightest twinge of a weird feeling. It can be the exact opposite of what I remember being low feeling like. I'll still take it. While this isn't necessarily a bad idea, it's also kind of causing me to lose sleep at night and go through canisters of test strips at record speed when it's not necessary.

I felt like I was living on borrowed time.

After a few days of walking around feeling like maybe I wasn't supposed to wake up from that low and jumping at the slightest wind, convinced the nearest university vehicle was going to bowl me over in the next five seconds, I finally sat still and prayed.

God, I'm scared. I feel like I dodged a bullet. What if I wasn't supposed to dodge it? What am I supposed to do here?

And I felt this strange assurance: Rachel, I'm God. If you were meant to be home with me, you would be.

Some might call that threatening, but I call it relaxing. It means I can go day to day with the knowledge that the God of the universe holds my life in His hands, and as long as He still has something for me to accomplish on this earth, I'll be here. I can screw up daily, and He will still take me back and love me. He'll give me a second chance.

So, no, I haven't quite gotten to the point where I don't use my test strips generously. But I know there's a reason why I'm still here. And therefore, why should I worry? What should I fear?

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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When I Look At My Life Now, I Forget I Used To Be Suicidal

I used to want to kill myself over what people said. Now I am much stronger.
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I was reading someone’s post celebrating how they haven’t self-harmed in years. I realized I haven’t self-harmed in years but I can’t remember the last time I celebrated it. It’s like I have almost completely forgotten that I used to be suicidal. I know it sounds awful, but I don’t know if I have blocked it out myself or if other people have done that for me.

Life used to be so hard and almost impossible. I remember crying myself to sleep every single night and wishing I was dead or that I was never born. I remember carving “worthless,” “crazy,” and “dramatic” into my legs because that was how everyone around me thought of me.

I remember being forced to go to therapy knowing what she was telling me would be pointless when my session was up and I had to go home. I remember trying to kill myself three times.

I still have scars, both visible and internal. I will never be able to love or trust anyone the way most people do. I will never be able to feel at home in my own house. I will never be able to get my childhood back. These open wounds will forever change my relationship with my family even if it’s just in my head.

But I don’t totally regret it. I reached the lowest point of my life as a child and now it can only get better. I am now so much stronger. I learned how to stand up for myself. I learned how to be who I am and not worry about what my family would think.

I was willing to kill myself over what people said to me and about me. I was trapped in my own body, in my own house, and in my own town and now I am free. I brush off what anyone thinks of me because it is my life, not theirs.

I left everything that was weighing me down and moved to a city where I didn't know anyone. This was everything I needed to forget that I was once suicidal. Now I am able to be myself and do what I love. I am surrounded by the greatest people who believe in me and push me to be a better version of my self every single day.

Life is so great and it seems like another person was suicidal, not me.

But it was me. I will have to work every day to overcome my depression and anxiety. But some days are better than others and so I am able to grow stronger and fight back harder.

Nothing that happens to me now could be as bad as what I faced growing up. So I laugh. I look my enemies in the face and laugh. Because they have no power.

National Suicide Prevention LifelineCall 1-800-273-8255

Cover Image Credit: Akash Desai

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