delirium happy

Just keep on trying till you run out of cake

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Intercalation
delirium leaving
rho
Was going to make this friends only, but decided not to, since there are people not on my friends list whose input I would welcome. Please don't make me regret this decision.

As you may or may not be aware, I've not been in a particularly happy place just recently when it comes to my mental health. In fact, I've missed pretty much all of the second half of this term just gone due to being too messed up in the head to get to classes. This is somewhat sub-optimal.

In the past two or three days, I've sent out a few emails, to my director of studies, and to one of my lecturers, asking about what sorts of things I would need to do in order to catch up. Both of them mentioned the possibility of intercalation (taking this year off, and then going back and having another try at the year come next October:

"keep in mind intercalation as a possibility if you find that you're too far behind."

"May I suggest to you to consider, as an option, to take an intercalation year, so that you can get all the necessary medical help, solve your health problems and come back in full strength to realize in full your academic potential. You have shown very impressive academic qualities in the year 2, so that it would be pity if you would not be able to get as much as you can from your degree course."

I am genuinely considering this as an option. On the one hand, I have missed enough that it would be seriously difficult to try to catch up on it all, especially since I'm really not feeling very much enthusiasm for academic study right at the moment. On the other hand, there's a risk that a year out could turn into a year spent never leaving my flat, moping, and spiraling into depression, which would leave me further back than I am now. I'm also somewhat worried about leaving behind my friends from my year, and ending up in a class where I don't know anyone.

I also wonder how much enthusiasm I'm likely to have in ten months time. I could definitely see me possibly missing the whole physics thing by then, and being eager to go back, but I could also see that possibly I'd still have no enthusiasm then, at which point there's the danger of me having wasted two year of study.

I guess that there are two big questions that I have to ask myself. The first is, will I be able to catch up sufficiently to successfully complete the year, should I choose to do so? If the answer to this is "no", then I really don't have a whole lot of choice in the matter. Fortunately, I don't have to make any sort of immediate decision here, and can maybe attempt to get caught up on some stuff over Christmas and see how that goes.

The second question is that of what I would do with this year if I wasn't spending it at university. Like I mentioned, there's the risk of spending a full year just moping, which would be disastrous. I do, however, feel that I'm in a much better place emotionally than I was when I was in Canterbury, and I do stand a better chance of doing something vaguely useful with my life. Ideally, I'd like to try to get my life in order, deal somewhat with the depression, start tackling the gender stuff again, get and keep my flat tidy, develop good eating and sleeping patterns, get into good habits like getting dressed every morning, and so on. If I could manage to get all that sort of thing done, then it would definitely be a worthwhile way to spend the year.

And not having to focus on anything other than getting my life in order does potentially make it more likely that I will succeed. But not having any structure around my life is potentially dangerous. On the other hand, I presume I would still have access to the university counseling service, and would be able to stay involved with the LGBT, which would hopefully be sufficient to ensure that I not become a complete hermit.

Ultimately, I'm just not sure that I really trust myself to be able to make the proper use of the year, and to discipline myself enough to set proper concrete goals, and to try to achieve them, and so on. If I do end up taking this route, I will be relying on many of you good people to give me a thorough kick in the bottom, should I be requiring one.

Thoughts, advice, support, personal experience, etc. would all be very welcome.

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The way I see it, doing a half-arsed job academically because you weren't ready or didn't really have the time to play catchup is a Bad Thing which you're likely to regret later. OTOH, in the absence of anything forcing you to get out of bed in the mor^H^H^Hafternoon, you risk regretting a year wasted in bed (not that spending the year in bed is inherently bad, iff you come out of it in a position to do well academically).

I suspect you need Something To Do(TM). Some kind of employment or writing a book or a grand tour of the cybercafes of eastern Europe or something. [insert less insane suggestions here]

Would it be possible to attempt to stay at Uni until the end of the academic year, and if by then you've been unable to perform well over the course of the whole year, to start again in September? It would mean less time out of Uni to sort your head out, but would reduce your ability to mope while doing so. And you'd be continuing with your studies with the safety net that you could repeat the year, which might help you cope with things better.

When I don't have anything to do, I end up sitting around and doing nothing in an unhealthy way. If you're going to take a year off from school, employment is the way to go, I'd say. Something structured enough that you can't say "No, I'm not going to go today" and something regular enough that gets you out of the house every other day or so. I know it helped me a lot.

I concur with what kimble says. I didn't regret my year out, but the loss of known and friendly people was difficult as the new year didn't have that year to get to know me and my oddities.

I certainly did much better once I'd gone back, but my limitations were purely physical and were mostly if not resolved, but manageable by the time I went back. I knew whatever happened I could complete the course, even if my grades wouldn't be as ideal as I would like. If the depression isn't going to change, or is at risk of flaring up yet again then you have a different kettle of badgers.

If you took a year off, would you be seeking professional support for the management of the depression? Either by resolving underlying issues, or biochemistry or or or... Do you even know if it is manageable? Do you know how much your depression is chemical, and how much is circumstantial and whatever? Are you susceptible to SAD, or is it just random/cyclic when it gets so bad you're the way you are now. Do you know the range of options available to you in depression treatment and management?

I mean I'm now in a situation where my balance problems are likely to be permanent. They are a better parallel to your depression, in that I don't exactly understand them well enough to manage them correctly. I have one or two options to explore, but have to persuade medical people that they are worth the risk. The chances are this is going to repeatedly bite me on the arse for the rest of my life.

There are strict limits of unknown value which I can't override - even if I 'don't look ill'. In fact I could probably go to limits for years, and then /something/ happens and I get ill again. I think once I get ill/overtired/stressed I'm at risk of spiralling downwards until I can start the reverse process. I'm only just realising the shortterm solutions to solving when I'm ill increase the longterm problems, so arguably I shouldn't take the shortterm solutions, and end up iller for longer and forcing brain to rehabituate all over again...

Another thought occurs that voluntary work of regularity might be an option if employment is going to be stressful, make things worse, or generally be a pain in the arse.

I'm very happy to discuss any of this futher either here, email or on IMs. I hope any of it is helpful to you.

I don't think you have it in you to mope around the house for a year.

After the first three months, if you hadn't gotten yourself out, you'd be climbing the walls. I see that as a good thing. And I speak from the perspective of someone who was given a nine-month sick note.

The fact that you have plans for what you want to do with the time is a positive indicator too. The thing to be ready for is that you probably will spend a significant period moping around the house, in order to recharge your batteries. Let yourself do it, for up to two months - you're run down and one of the things I suspect you're not particularly good at is resting. Resting for a while does not mean that you'll never get up on your feet again. (I found that lesson very hard to learn - can you tell?)

That's a difficult decision, and I don't think I have any particularly good advice. However, if you take the year off, is there any way you can make yourself think of it as taking a college course in life togetherness? Where what you are doing for your college schoolwork is mastering life skills? So, that you can sort of make some structure out of it. Maybe even make a curriculum for yourself to have clearer goals?

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Currently, alas, I just feel very envious because I'd kill to be offered an intercalation year on my course at the moment (having completely screwed up Michaelmas, getting to about half my lectures and doing no project work, due to residual depression from the summer).

That's actually a very useful comment for me, since it reminds me that I'm lucky to have the choice. This serves well in both a "count your blessings" way, and a "don't mess it up" way. So thank you for that.

And also, much aympathy for your situation. I wish I could say or do something to make it suck less.

Hi, I'm new, and this is my first post and it's on a serious topic so I don't get to open with a joke or anything, so I'm apologising in advance if I say anything out of line.

I never did the uni thing, I went straight to work much to the disappointment of my parents. But I loved it, mostly, and as my depression worsened I found myself sacrificing more and more things - love-life, friendships, sensible behaviour, as long as I could walk into the office and still be Good At What I Did.

But of course that too fell to the depression eventually, and when it did, it pushed me over the edge, because up until then I still had that to cling to. And I lost it all, went part-time, then off sick for months. Fortunately They Had The Technology, and They Did Rebuild Me, and I got back in there.

How is this relevant to you? Well ok, not lots, I suppose that was just my CV.

Two things jump out at me, and they're both points which have already been made by you and people who know you better than I do. Given that I don't know you at all!

1) Mental health issues do not just go away like a cold does. And it's far better to tackle them while you're still cognitive enough to do so. So in that sense I would say take the year, get things sorted now. Meds, counselling, group therapy, whatever.

2) But the point about losing a routine and your raison d'etre (hey look, it's 4am, I'm allowed) is an excellent one. It can be very bad. The first thing my counsellors did after learning about me was to schedule their visits first thing in the morning, just to make me get out of bed. Bastards *laughs* but I can see why. When I get bad blips I STILL have to guard against falling into myself and spending 36 hours in my head, not moving from my room.

So I guess what I'm saying is, take the year out if you're going to work on your health, AND if you're prepared to find new committments with which to fill your time. Do volunteer work. Tutor kids, get a temp job, whatever. But you need a routine, a reason to get out of bed, something which is too much hassle to cancel, an actual *obligation* or you run the risk of just falling into yourself.

When you rejoin in a year's time sure the people around you will be different. But with any luck, so will you be. And I mean that in a good way.

But if you don't see that happening, then it's better to stay where you are. As long as you realise that it's a short-term strategy.

:-( I don't know you at all, I stumbled across your blog and liked it, but I realise this is a very personal issue so I'm sorry if I've said anything inappropriate.

you need something to get you out of the house. the house is depressing. school helps you get out of the house, but you're professors are right, it may be too late to catch up properly and it may be more work than you can do right nwo. but if you take a year off school you need something that will get you out of the house on a regular basis, and probably some therapy (because despression isn't going to go away on its own and if you're lying around too depressed to do anything with nothing for you to do even if you wanted to do it...that's a receipe for disaster).

I dropped out of the Danish equivalent to High School back in 2003. Did I ever regret that? Well, not really. I ended up doing nothing for half a year, then went to 'højskole' and got seriously sucked into the folk music milieu, and then worked as a human mail transfer agent for half a year and have spent this year on maritime tradition (sailing, rope making, etc.). I also feel that I'm ready to continue the studying and am actually quite a bit more sure about myself and what I want and what I can and cannot do, then I was two and a half year ago when I quite school. So, yeah, my advice would be to take the leave and avoid stressing yourself and read above comments, as they seem to hold good advice as well. :)

i guess it comes down to for me: if you feel like getting out of school, do it. i did it for a year - just going back now - and it totally saved my sanity (bipolar, whee!).

but you've got to have something to do. for me, it was a lucky break involving an internship in the one cool techy group at Bell Canada (our version of BT). got to travel. play with big computers and shiny phones. there was a lot of boring administrivia to be done, and when that got to be too much of what i was doing i decided it was time to leave there too... but it was GREAT for a year.

now I'm back on the school path. I've got 10 credits of a 20 credit BSc done already, and I'm completing the rest via distance education, so I can set my own pace. I'm giving myself 2.5 years to finish that. then I'll have a computer science degree and the background to not feel like a newbie in every field I try.

this article might help too: http://geography.rutgers.edu/courses/05fall/205/Responsibility.html

good luck, and keep writing :)

-leigh

A quick note or two, bearing in mind that I have only the vaguest notion of who you are that is several years old and likely inaccurate, and have wandered into this journal from somewhere else.

1. I left my second year at university because I was having a shitty time of things. I spent the time moping and what jobs I managed to get I got only to pay bills. I returned at the start of the next academic year and lasted two months before dropping out again. In my year off I hadn't solved a damn thing and I returned to university in worse shape than ever. I never finished my degree.

2. Students who are having problems at this part of the year can often catch up, but they won't necessarily do as well as they otherwise might, leading to a lower degree classification at the end of it. Students who suspend and intend to come back very often come back and put in a performance that matches or exceeds what they did before. Or they don't come back at all. And likely never answer their phone.

Basically what I'm saying is, if you think you'd mope and do nothing to sort out your head, you should continue on and try to catch up. Your final degree might not represent the best that you can do, but it's better than nothing at all.

If you think you'll be able to make decent progress on your condition in a year out (bearing in mind I have no idea what your problem is), and if you think you'll be able to give yourself a life in the mean time that will be both a change and something which will keep up your enthusiasm for your degree, you should drop out this second and go do something else for a few months.

You'll probably still be on the old funding system whatever you choose, but if you're getting assistance from your LEA they might get a bit pissy if you go into next term, take their money, and then drop out. Students who suspend early in a year and return are more likely, in my experience, to get funding for their next year than students who fail the year and have to re-take. Depends on your LEA of course, and the amount of cash you want/need from them.

Another option is to find out if your university will certify an incomplete degree. If you can get a CertHE or a DipHE out of them you can quit your degree, go and do something else for a few years, then leap straight back into the second/third/whatever year at this or a different university.

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