University Saved My Life

Once upon a time I was a scared little girl who could hardly force herself to go to high school. Many days I was unable to get out of bed. I was crippled by the pain, fear, and uncomfortable reality that comes with an uncontrollable mental illness. Like many, I had this idea that I’d “never be happy” and I had resigned to some apathetic form of comfort that allowed me to be relatively okay with my harsh reality. I was a person with depression, and anxiety. I did believe that it wasn’t all I was. I had my writing and that kept my head at least an inch above water. It was something, and I thank that passion for creativity every day (or at least when I remember). I used to spend so much time in my room. We’re talking all of my waking and sleeping hours. I’d watch Netflix, play World of Warcraft, and avoid food (which made me gain weight, not lose it. Thanks survival mode). As close as last summer I was still in this shadowy cocoon. I had a college diploma in Creative Digital Media but it wasn’t what I wanted. I wanted to go to St. Thomas University in Fredericton, New Brunswick but for some reason I had let that dream slip away because I felt that I couldn’t do it. I felt that I wasn’t able to handle life outside the house and I chose a career idea that could be done from home. I try not to judge myself. I understand that at the time I believed that there wasn’t another option. Still, it’s hard for me to look back (even only a year ago) and not cringe. One night in June I was crying over my grades from High School. I had a 69% average because I’d missed so much school. The entrance grades to STU was 70%, however, they would accept you to the school sometimes if you had a lower average of between 60%-69% providing you took a class to prepare you for school. I went for it. With my application I included a letter explaining my circumstances and how much I really wanted to go to the school. I waited for a couple months anxiously. I applied late, and wouldn’t know until a month before if I would be going to school in the fall or not. I spent a lot of anxious nights not telling people I had applied and worrying that they’d not accept me – or worse they would and I’d have to learn to function in the real world. I got in. I cried a lot. Happy tears of disbelief. I don’t know why but I almost felt faint – it was impossible. 
A month later (after obsessive packing and crying that I’d miss my cat) I started at STU. Almost immediately I started to feel better. I found friends, found classes I loved, and learned to balance my life. It sounds almost too easy. At first I had some anxiety but once I settled in I had a strange reaction one day when I was walking around campus. I was happy. No strings attached, no cloud looming over head. I was happy. I’ve felt that so many times over the past five months. I’ve felt happy, rarely sad, alive, and like I truly belong. It’s amazing to be on the other side of a mental illness. Of course there will still be bad and good days in the future but for the most part I’m recovered and it feels great. 

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