Why I Don't Regret Suspending My University Studies Two Months Before Graduation
Three months back, I suspended my university studies in the final semester of my final year, just two months from graduation. And I don’t regret it.
There was no way I was going to graduate. I spent most of my first semester struggling to get through a single hour lecture. I couldn’t concentrate and I just wanted to stay home and sleep. So I did.
Three months came and went and I knew nothing of what I was supposed to in my classes. In all honesty, I didn’t care. And that scared me. I was breaking down for no reason at home and at work. I was hurting myself, I wasn’t eating and I pretty much gave up caring for myself.
When I eventually admitted I couldn’t deal with my thoughts, behavior and constant panicking, I went to a doctor. I was given antidepressants and was eventually persuaded to do cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). I was treated for depression, generalized anxiety disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. The last two came as no surprise to me; I’ve always been anxious about things and my obsession over things and thoughts was clear to everyone.
I wasn’t sad. I just didn’t care. I wasn’t what I believed a depressed person “should be.” I got extensions for work at university, but still couldn’t make the deadlines – never mind think about exams.
When I admitted that I was struggling to my tutors – who were so understanding – I made the decision to suspend my year. My tutors assured me I was still part of the course and would help me in any way they could when I got back. I was so grateful for to them because quite honestly I wasn’t expecting them to be so helpful. I didn’t want to give up completely. I loved my course, I was getting really good marks and I liked university.
Although it was a bit of relief to take time off, it didn’t make things get back to normal.
Things actually got worse.
I felt completely lost, confused, frustrated and scared. All I could think was that I was a failure, I’d let people down and I was a disappointment. I felt trapped and helpless. I had no interest in anything. I didn’t socialize and I just wanted to hide. These feelings totally consumed me and I felt like I needed to be out.
Being out of uni made me realize my pretty crappy mental health wasn’t just because of stress. I realized I had other stuff I needed to deal with. I needed to focus on recovery, something I still find hard to admit – because mental health is still seen differently than physical health is. But thankfully the stigma is starting to change.
Suspending my studies has meant I can sort things out for myself with fewer things going on. If I hadn’t done it, I honestly don’t know what I would have done. It’s given me the time and headspace to decide what I want to do with my future. It’s given me a chance to realize that although I will probably always be up and down with my mental health, there are ways to cope with it and I have the chance to learn how to do that now.
Mostly, its given me the kick in the ass to stop hiding this from people, so that the people closest to me can actually help, because they do care. Not being able to do things because of poor mental health does not make me a failure or disappointment.
Sometimes, you just have to quit – not all the way – just a little bit. And that is perfectly OK. If you need to stop something, make the decision for yourself. If you need to suspend or drop out of education or your job, talk to people that can help. Take some time out to help yourself. Being happy and healthy is the most important thing and those who love you and care about you just want what is best for you.
If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.
If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
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