How I Earned My Degree despite Adversity | Article F18

NEW Articles THUMB = 11.29.18

Trigger Warning: Suicidal themes


At the time of my writing this article I am approximately a month and a half away from earning my Bachelor of Science degree in psychology after entering this university back in fall 2012. In my six years of having been an undergraduate student at the university I dreamed of attending in my senior year of high school, originally on a pre-med track majoring in Chemistry, a lot has changed. These last six years have been one interesting and one hell of a ride. I am eternally grateful that in May 2019 I will be able to take that commencement walk in full graduation gear for the number one thing I’ve worked my bum off to achieve in all these six years.


These years were not without struggle, not without questioning who I am and who I aim to one day represent. They’ve been years of change, of passion and stubborn determination.


Approximately 64% of young adults who are no longer in college are not attending due to some mental health reason or another (NAMI 2012).


I am lucky to not be one of those statistics. Instead, and I am sure I’m not alone in this, I am someone whose had the chance and the financial stability from my family to continue onwards in achieving my degree despite all the road blocks that arose in my way, threatening not only my chance of graduating but my very life.


So how did I get from point A to point M?


Well, in 2012 I began attending UMass Boston at the age of 19 with symptoms that soon began of OCD that I did not realize at the time.


Around fall 2013 I changed my major to psychology while still pursuing a pre-med track until I began to excel in my psych courses rather than barely muddling through my biology courses.


In spring 2015, largely and often actively suicidal I began various psychiatric hospitalizations, getting picked up by ambulance from the Counseling Center and feeling like I wasn’t meant to be in school let alone alive on the planet. I withdrew from a few of my courses, settling on the notion that I would have to take them again in a future I didn’t see myself ever reaching.


One of the most important concepts brought to my attention at this point in my treatment was that university would always be there if I had to take time away from my educational pursuits to achieve and maintain my own health and wellness. I remember it as the first foundation of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (food, water, air, safety and shelter). I remember people telling me “the school isn’t going anywhere, but you have to be alive in order to attend it. You can’t go to school if you’re dead.” It was advice I needed to hear at the time and it needed to be explicit to me or otherwise I wouldn’t have had a revelation about it. Now, it’s something I often find my own self returning to when discussing similar matters to others.


In fall 2015 I took a medical leave of absence before staying 5 weeks at the OCD-Institute. My treatment there paved the way for my recovery and I returned to classes in spring 2016. During this time I began to write for the newspaper, began involvement with NAMI and took a summer statistics course in which I excelled.


Overall, it was a cycle of withdrawals, part-timing, pass/failing, medical leaves and make-up courses over four years that led up to my eventual and long awaited graduation. It took forever to get here for sure but I’ve never been as prepared and ready to leave as I am feeling now. I’m ready to move forwards in my life and I largely stuck by my values during this entire journey.


UMB began as a place of brightness, possibility and opportunities. It began as a place of much creativity and endless artistic inspiration for me.


When ill, it became shrouded in a cloak of possible harm and death scenarios. I would often cry in corridors, get stuck in stairwells, self-harm in the bathrooms, and plan ways to end my life within its walls.


But through it all I refused to let my brain win. Time and time again I chose recovery, I chose life, I chose happiness and I chose stability.


I have chosen to walk these halls with pride in my bones because I have reigned here and my vision of this school has arisen like a phoenix from the flames. It may not be exactly the same way as how I saw it six years ago, but it’s good enough for me.


I have faced adversity and I’ve had the grit within me to prevail. If that doesn’t make me a superhero, nothing will.


Stay safe.

Written: 11.8 & 11.12.2018

12/22 A/N:

Hey guys! I’m so excited to be bringing you guys this article!! If you follow me on Twitter or browsed through my feed from the day I’m writing this author’s note, you’ll be familiar with some of the ending of this article as I posted it there too since I loved it so much. I actually got a little bit of feedback from someone who worked in the Student Activities department saying that they liked this article a lot, so that’s so neat!!

Any who, I’ve probably got to find something else to do right about now, but I hope you enjoyed this article and want to stick around to see what other ones I have left to upload. 🙂 Happy holidays!! ❤ ❤ ❤

Also, PS, here is the picture that I shared of a drawing I made a few years ago that’s still actually unfinished but coincides with this written piece:

IMG_00000956 Upd