I’ve gotten a few people saying that I used depression as an excuse to fail out of school- and I just need to say a few things about that.
Depression is something that is unique to everyone who experiences it. It often gets viewed and stereotyped as being just unbearably sad and hopeless all the time, and while that is how many people experience it, it’s not how I experienced it. I felt joy, and pleasure, and I laughed at jokes. But all I wanted to do was stay at home and surf the internet all day, even when I knew I had more important things to do, and not doing anything was putting me in serious jeopardy. And I just didn’t care. I didn’t even want to write. All I wanted to do was surf, and get away from the bad stuff in my life.
Lack of interest is a defining characteristic of depression, its labeled right in the DSM IV. It isn’t being lazy, and it isn’t “using an excuse.” It’s the nature of the fucking beast. Depression is the emotional equivalent of being hit by a bus, and so many people institutions, like the college I was attending, fail to recognize that. When I’d go to bed, I’d cry about what a mess I was and hate myself, but in the morning I’d be back to my old habits. That is disordered thinking at its most basic level. You know something’s wrong, you need to do something different, but your brain can’t possibly wrap itself around the idea of doing something different, and doing the right thing often hurts more than doing the old wrong thing does.
I’m lucky because my depression was brought on by unfortunate circumstances rather than being chronic, but it still has left an indelible mark on my life, or rather, other people’s failure to understand and accommodate depression has.
I hope that OP doesn’t mind if I add my two cents here, because between this and the earlier post wherein someone decided that the way to end an argument was, “oooh, but I bet you don’t have formal schooling in fashion,” I believe my calm has been damaged. I work in academia, and since apparently some people think that not having a higher education disqualifies a person from speaking about literally anything, up to and including personal passions that they’ve self-educated on and their own fucking life experience, let me tell to you a thing.
Over the years, I’ve had a lot of students who have some kind of disability that hampers their learning experience in some way or another, and since a lot of my job involves being there to assist when a student might find going to their professor to be too intimidating, I end up doing what I can to help out, whether that’s interfacing with the course instructor to arrange for certain accommodations or getting the student in touch with DSPS or student services so that they can arrange for additional assistance. Here’s the thing, though. Most colleges have been hard hit financially in recent years, and I can’t think of a single DSPS department I’ve ever seen if there’s one in the first place that hasn’t been understaffed and underfunded. Budget cuts hit student services first.
That’s not even touching on that fact that sometimes — well, sometimes, the people and institutions providing support services are just shitty. Yes, most of the educators and people involved in education that I’ve known or have worked with have been legitimately well-intentioned, but not all; the best are overworked and the worst are either uninformed/undertrained or just don’t give two fucks. It happens. I wish that it didn’t, but it does.
That’s assuming that a student knows about the services provided in the first place. While I’ve worked for a few places that had decent services available, none of them have done an adequate job of publicizing those services to the student body or making sure that the students who most need help are aware that it’s being offered.
The kindest thing I could say about traditional academia when it comes to serving students with disabilities is that we’re not doing enough. When I’m having a couple drinks with co-workers and the subject comes up, I’m usually a lot less kind. I also cuss a lot more.
I’ve spent the last month trying to help a women with pretty severe learning disabilities to stay in my class, and arranging provisions for her because DSPS is never open during hours when she’s not in class or working. I’m not surprised anymore when a student can’t stay in school; I’m surprised when somehow they find the personal reserves to stay in spite of the fact that the academic system rarely helps and often hinders them. So seriously, fuck anyone who decides that “well, why don’t you just go to college?” is always an easy question to answer, or that shows someone who educated themself on something they love when traditional academia failed them anything but the utmost respect.