Help. Returning to school after a disastrous 5 year absence.

<p>I was hoping for some help a second time from a forum that helped me beyond measure during the application process in what feels like a very long time ago.</p>

<p>I went straight from high school to my large state university at 18. I'm Native American and at the time had my tuition paid for through my tribal affiliation. This allowed to turn down some scholarships from some lesser schools and attend the school of my choice. I had a successful first year, living in the dorms, taking general classes, and exploring my options. </p>

<p>After returning for my sophomore year problems started occurring. I moved off campus with some friends made the previous year. As they became more consumed with their part time jobs/internships, girlfriends, and coursework I started to become isolated as I was never a social butterfly that easily maintains or develops friendships to begin with. Having no decided major, feeling worse by the day, and watching money that my parents were dumping into my bank account to cover expense erode, I packed up and went home for winter quarter. Feeling even more isolated there I hastily returned back for spring quarter, probably in a even further state of mental decline, and not unexpectedly completely crashed and burned, literally packing up and leaving with a month left in the quarter and eating three complete 0.0 gpa grades, swearing to never return. </p>

<p>It's unclear to me how much of it was part of my clouded judgement and inability to cope in the state I was in, but my situation wad bad in the final weeks. I had accepted the first room I could get in the dorms and was given a double now serving as a triple, one a roommate who was among other things aggressive and threatening, and a second roommate who moved in at the same time I did who responded to this arrangement by leaving altogether and commuting the rest of the year from his home 45 minutes away after the housing department refused to do anything about the situation. I later learned the first roommate had driven off 3 other roommates in the same year. I personally had taken to sleeping in the library and anyone's couch who would let me. I felt completely ignored in attempts to receive help of any sort from the university and as said, I packed up and left. </p>

<p>By now I was extremely depressed, that summer my family was periodically gone for long stretches leaving me all alone, and although I never said anything to any one I was I quite suicidal for a while. A trip to the doctor's earned me the advice of "stay cool" and whatever antidepressants I wanted, along with a mental health phone evaluation and the option of a seeing a psychologist 3 months down the road for another evaluation. I passed on the offers. Somehow after about 6 months of cycling some short term jobs I found full time work at a fast food restaurant. I was hoping to work there for a year or two and move onto something else. At any rate I was happy to be somewhere, doing something again. </p>

<p>Within about 6 months I was feeling ok again. School was not a concern and by now I had made the concession that it probably never would be and I'd just have to make due with whatever money I would make. Not too much longer, the recession was in full swing, local unemployment went past 17%, and I completely resigned to the fact that I'd be stuck there for at least a little while longer. I made a few friends that ended up coming and going, some off to more lucrative jobs and others off to school themselves, but none that ever really stuck. There were no girlfriends, no time off or vacations, contact with anyone I had known in high school or college was gone. At one time I realized I had been no place other than my work, gas station, grocery store, and home in over 6 months. This was gist of it for the next 4 years. </p>

<p>It got to the point recently that I had become almost completely socially isolated again, and felt like I was being exploited by my employer who was trying to foist more hours on me while giving me a pay cut and asking me to perform more and more duties. I did not have the energy for it anymore. I was sleeping 6 hours a night, lost 15 pounds, my drinking was starting to get a little out of control, and I was beginning to feel suicidal again. I had to quit.</p>

<p>Seeking employment was fruitless, it was the same jobs in different places. As much as I didn't want to, my options seemed to have become clear and not in a good way. </p>

<p>If there was any bright spot in the drudgery of the last 5 years it was I saved enough money to have some flexibility. On the other hand I'm living with 2 parents who are now staring down retirement and are making the gesture that I won't be welcomed very much longer. </p>

<p>I can return to my old university with a simple returning student application because on some miracle I escaped with good academic standing. From my e-mails with them their is no way to expunge my second year grades though, leaving my options for majors and internships limited. Now I'm also faced with the added challenge of being an early balding 25 year old who's been out of the habit of school for 5 years trying to somehow reintegrate with a bunch of fresh undergraduates. My cash at this point would get me through probably two of what I imagine would be three years needed to finish a degree, and all of my previous scholarships and financial backing from both my parents and tribe is gone. </p>

<p>So to now. I'm enrolling in the local CC, whether or not anything will transfer should I decided to complete the bachelors I have no idea, if for no other reason just to escape for a few months and clear my head and attempt to begin to pick up the pieces of this mess. I'm afraid that if I return right now I'd fall right back into the same pits I was in before, and I don't have the cushions I had last time. My social support is already nil. There will be no where left to return to and my money spent. But at the same time, staying in my current situation just is not maintainable anymore. I don't have a lot of choices. </p>

<p>I wonder how much of this was ever under my control. I wonder if I have some sort of mental illness that surfaces now and then that's going to throw a wrench into anything I ever try to do, or whether this is just the effects of isolation and stress, and that maybe I never have been all that well in a long time. I really have no idea where I want to go and what I want to do anymore, I just don't want it be this. I feel battered and exploited. This is the first I've relayed of my situation in any kind of entirety to any one, any where. </p>

<p>Please, any advice, opinions, words of wisdom. Anything would be appreciated.</p>

<p>I hate to be the first post to reply to your long and serious post because I can't give it justice right now, but let me say that you sound like you have clinical depression, whcih may be better or worse different times. If you have felt suicidal, that is definately a medical condition called depression will also be intensified if you drink or use drugs. Have you not ever gone to your doctor and asked for a mental health evaluation? It is time to do it, so you can make informed decisions, and better so you can get medication to help you. I also find it a bad sign that you make such a long job of telling about roommates from long ago. That you are dwelling on it isn't a good sign. I couldn't even follow all of that-- you could have just given a short version. The details aren't important.</p>

<p>I think if you go back you have to learn to take more responsibility, not just for your own actions/grades but also for not just letting things happen to you that you seem to have no control over. That is just you not taking care of business through the right channels. And I think you can't let this social life issue control your future. The social life is just short term. Still it is important to have supportive people in your life. Choose them wisely and carefully and focus on your schoolwork in the meantime. You have to do things so they are in your control, be an active participant. The problem is that people who are depressed can lack motivation and feel like there is not control.</p>

<p>I hope you can return and finish. Get yourself checked out first. You will find that some thing are harder. Yes, you may have to accept that you are now limited in some majors, but that's where you start. Also you will be older than most people. Don't get hung up on that. Maybe you will meet some seniors or even grad students. (Don't go into long stories about long ago roommates.) Good luck.</p>

<p>Sorry if my account of the debacle was long winded. When contemplating a return it comes back fresh to memory and was the last taste I had in my mouth as leaving. It's certainly nothing I bring up in conversation.</p>

<p>As for the depression, definitely yes, and I did seek medical help and I was offered antidepressants which I wasn't particularly looking for, and a several month wait for any kind of evaluation or therapy which is what I was looking for. By the time it became available I had already moved past that and was more concerned with maintaining a job and regaining some sense of normalcy - I had kept this under raps to begin with.</p>

<p>I'm not sure what kind of treatment I'd have access to now beyond antidepressants.</p>

<p>Have you tried support groups? I've heard sometimes that those help.</p>

<p>I think you need to be a bit more pro-active about getting help. I guess that is part of the disease though- feeling like task are beyond you and it is too difficult to try.</p>

<p>It seems to me you have a lot going for you.</p>

<p>You know how to work , be responsible , hold down a job. You will be more mature that the average student. I am sure that once your teachers at CC see that -you will meet many that will mentor you and help you along your path.</p>

<p>I have been on antidepressants before. It is not that big of a deal (at least not for me)
It didn't change my personality. It just made it a bit easier not to obsess on things I couldn't control. Yes there are a few side effects -but if you expect them and know what they are -they aren't too bad. You might have to switch a few times to get the right one.
If you had high blood pressure -you would take a med for that right? I don't understand the difference.</p>

<p>You could also look into Cognitive Therapy. Cognitive therapy gives you skills that help you manage your symptoms.</p>

<p>Twenty five is still very young. You have a lot of life in front of you. Get some help so you can enjoy it</p>

<p>I thought your story was well-written and that the account of the roommate situation was helpful in understanding the sort of crisis situation you were in when you left. I am sure it is a strong memory, and I don't think it was long-winded at all, myself.</p>

<p>There are a lot of options these days, that are open to "adult learners," a term that applies to anyone over 24. Many of these options are more affordable, and allow for working at the same time. You could look into "low residency" or online programs, such as Goddard, Lesley, or Union Institute. Switching schools would clear up your transcript, too. You are obviously bright, and a hard worker.</p>

<p>Many state universities have online programs, evening programs, or "university without walls" type programs.</p>

<p>You are isolated for many reasons beyond your control. Go easy on yourself.</p>

<p>With a pattern of returning depression, in different contexts, I would, if I were you, consider that you have a mood disorder called clinical depression. The fact that it lifts or changes by the time you can get evaluated, is a problem because it allows you to avoid help, but by now you should be able to see a longer term pattern.</p>

<p>If you don't want to take antidepressants, maybe see if you can find an alternative or "functional medicine" doctor. Try exercise, good diet, and there are some supplements you could try (5HTP, Sam-e) but they are potent and you want to be careful.</p>

<p>Can you articulate why you don't want to try antidepressants?</p>

<p>One of my parents committed suicide. I am big on treatment for depression. Don't blame yourself, don't stay in denial. You are young, at 25, and can affect the course of your life if you really have the courage to face what is going on. Good luck!</p>

<p>PLEASE seek some "in person" help for your possible depression or whatever it may be. Check with the Bureau of Indian Affairs in your area (do you live where you can do this?)...you may find that there is someone who provides counseling in your area. You need to see someone in person who can help you. </p>

<p>My only school advice is that you can finish college and be successful. You are not the first (nor will you be the last) who had an unsuccessful first round of college and rebounded.</p>

<p>ITA with compmom re your roommate story.</p>

<p>It is absolutely essential that you get effective therapy for your depression. You have the skills and maturity you need to successfully complete a degree IF your mental state doesn't sabotage you. (BTDT)</p>

<p>Could you explain why you are so averse to medication?</p>

<p>Meanwhile, I think that dipping your toe into the academic waters at CC is an excellent idea. I would be careful, though, not to blow too much of your savings on courses that will not transfer towards a degree.</p>

<p>Wherever you go, your first university academic record will follow you. You will need to send that transcript if you do transfer elsewhere. However, your (projected) new good grades at the CC will do a lot to make up for your old bad ones. Lots of us have old ugly transcripts. You aren't alone in that, so don't worry about it. For now concentrate on getting those good grades that you know you are capable of, and think about your long-term goals.</p>

<p>If you do decide to study at a college or university full-time, check out the housing options for older students. Often students your age are able to live in grad student housing, rather than with the typical-age undergrads. You would like grad student housing - lots more single rooms, lots more serious students, lots more chances that someone who used to TA a course that you are taking lives right down the hall, lots more chances to socialize with people your own age. </p>

<p>Wishing you much success.</p>

<p>You're a very good writer with a lot of insight - uncommon qualities that I hope will help you throughout your life. Best of luck.</p>