No Baby Bird

If I were to send the following (taken from an explanation I sent to a family member about what happened with college) in an email to you about what happened with A&M from 2004-2007 and trying again at UAH, then what would you say?

I started at A&M in 2004, told my professors from the start about my whole nutty issue. My depression started getting worse almost immediately, but I kept going. When it was time for my internship in the Social Work program, the field coordinator didn’t want to place me because (this was the first excuse) I couldn’t drive and she said that there were no agencies she could place me with that would accept a non-driver. She eventually found one, after she decided that the medicines I was on were too dangerous to allow me to drive safely. The first day I went on the internship (at the main Boys & Girls Club in North Huntsville), I wore the wrong shoes (fake Birkenstock sandals instead of tennis shoes) and my supervisor called her. So, the next day she came by and she wanted to check on me, and I was interacting with the kids and doing stuff and wearing the right shoes. A week later, I got called into the supervisors’ office and she was in there and they were talking about how I had been withdrawn and wasn’t reacting properly to the kids. (I was there with another girl from the school and I was actually more involved than she was, but this was never noticed.) Well, the field coordinator (who had been a teacher in a previous course and had been kind of hostile toward me there) intimidated me a bit and I started crying, which she said was unprofessional. She wanted to call my parents and I said that she would have to wait until the answering machine picked up and leave a message. She wanted to know why my parents couldn’t use caller ID, which made me cry harder, because this was in early 2007 when we had absolutely no money and were waiting on disability. I tried to explain, but I just couldn’t get it out, and part of me didn’t like the way she was acting. So, she decided to call my advisor and my advisor asked me if she could come with me to my next psychiatrist appointment. I said okay, thinking it would be only her. I was told to take a week off, since the appointment was in one week. I took the week off, and my parents and I went to the appointment. I was shocked when my advisor AND the field coordinator were there. My psychiatrist couldn’t see me that day, but another psychiatrist (at the Mental Health Center, they pass us around) saw me. Both professors went back with me, and I told this stranger about my problems with the two professors sitting there. The psychiatrist could tell I was upset, so she thought I needed to go inpatient (I didn’t) and the professors told me to take that semester off. They told me that if I thought I felt better that I could call them later in the semester for a new placement. I called several times, but my phone calls were ignored. I went back to A&M in the fall and pretty much sat outside the field coordinator’s office. She told me to wait a while, so I did, and one day later in the semester, I was asked to go to a meeting room with the two professors. This was the day that they told me that because I was bipolar, I could not complete the program. They went on to tell me that I should not have a job ever that had to do with dealing with other people. If I could avoid human contact, then that would be advisable. I finished that semester at A&M, and a year later I was at UAH.

I was going to go to UAH for a different degree, since I couldn’t finish that one when I realized that going to school was wreaking havoc on my mental and physical health, which was causing me to do worse in my classes. I was skipping a lot because I just had no physical energy some days. So, I’m on kind of an indefinite hiatus.

When a person can’t show up for half of their classes because of pure exhaustion, pain, depression, horrifyingly bad headaches, etc., should that person be reminded that they have basically quit? I am not currently in school, and I don’t know when I’m going to go back. However, I don’t think it’s fair to call me a quitter.

I probably have more credits than most people who have their doctorates. I went pretty much non-stop from August of 2001 until January of 2007, took a break and went back in August of 2007, had to reapply at UAH, started at UAH in January of 2009, and took a break beginning May of last year. I almost graduated in 2007, and am two classes away from that degree but I can’t complete it.

I just want to scream. I don’t like when people say I quit. Quitting sounds like I gave up because of laziness or something. I really hope that people don’t truly believe I’m lazy. If they do, then that’s their own damn problem. I work my butt off every day. It takes a lot of energy some days just to open my eyes. I have to push through a lot of crap just to do simple stuff.

People seem to see all my failures or things that I haven’t finished as being who I am, which I don’t appreciate. If you look at a baby bird learning to fly, you don’t look at all the times that it falls or that it can’t get up or any of that. You look at its successes. You cheer those on.

Of course, I’m no baby bird.

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Janet Morris

I'm from Huntsville, Alabama. I've got as many college credits as a doctorate candidate, and the GPA of some of them, too. I have a boss by the name of Amy Pond. She's a dachshund. My parents both grew up in Alabama.

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