Top o’ the morning to ya, mates! I hope that your week thus far has treated you swellingly. If not, then fuck this past week. I shall raise my cuppa to the upcoming week being far more well-mannered and considerate.
You know, I’m glad these past seven days have been tossed into the meat-grinder, pumped-out, and fed to the feral vampires of the world. It was by far one of the worst bleeding weeks that I have had in about three years. BUT… it’s over. I made it across the burning bridge of bollucks and survived, as did my Sir Azizi Kitty. While the week began in a nightmare, it ended with relief. Keep your chin up, mate. Things will get better, I promise. ♥
Alrighty, moving onwards. Contrary to the opening paragraphs, I will not be talking about the anxiety festival that was dealing with a sick cat. I’m not emotionally or mentally ready to tackle that subject, and I want to make sure that I can cover the process of dealing with recovery when I do get around to writing that post because facing recovery time is just as stressful, believe me. No, today I wanted to chat with you about something that I am wholeheartedly fucking terrified of: going back to uni. Oh yes… so, grab a beverage, maybe some snackers, and get comfortable because shit is about to get really honest… so business as usual.
** Content Warning: Suicide. Depression. Abuse. Bullying. Lots of FUCKS and MOTHERFUCKS. **
** Disclaimer: I am not a psychologist or psychiatrist. I am simply one person who is reaching out and sharing their experiences and techniques that has helped them be able to move forward in life. Do not take anything that I say as medical advice as I am not a medical professional, and information provided here on BiblioNyan should not be construed as such. Thank you. **
Okay, I’ve taken a deep breath and prepared my phalanges for the typing that is to come forth. I start my return to university in one day short of a week. The mere notion of returning had filled me with a great sense of paranoia, to the point where I was prepared to use my cat’s illness and surgery (as well as the following financial chaos) as an excuse to drop out of the semester before it even began. You have to understand that my relationship with school is one filled with some highs and some severe fucking lows, so the fear that I felt—am feeling—is a giant, jumbled ball of anticipation and anxiety unlike anything I have felt since I got my first nose piercing… okay, it’s probably a good pint or two worse than that.
Brief (I suck at these, why do I always say they’re brief when they’re really not?) history. I graduated high school when I was sixteen years old. I wanted to attend Oxford University or Cambridge University and become a criminal defence attorney like my late brother. A close second option for university was something prestigious but closer to home as I knew that my super conservative Asian parents would never really allow me to move halfway around the world by myself just for school. No, that would be too damn easy. Anyway, I graduated early with a perfect GPA. Through a lot of bloody hard work, I even got accepted to Oxford University.
But then I met a boy.
Ah, the murderer of all good aspirations: naïve adolescent-induced abusive relationship dressed up as magical, epic (NOT) love.
Without going into the gory fucking details, this boy turned my life upside down and before I could even begin to fathom what the fuck had happened, where it all went wrong exactly, ten years had passed by and I was crawling on bloodied hands and knees out of the worse possible relationship I have ever had, with no friends and no family to think of. My parents were there, but I could tell they were so disappointed with my life that they probably would have preferred to not be; it was more of, “We’re helping because we’re your parents and it’s our job,” rather than, “Yeah, you fucked-up, but we love you and want to help you anyway” sort of thing.
When I got married, I was attending a two-year junior college where I began studying Business. I thought that if I crawled up the educational ladder and received an MBA (Master’s of Business Administration), my parents would eventually find some semblance of pride in me since that’s what they wanted me to pursue. But those two years mutated into eight fucking years and four changes to my major. Eventually, I realised that I loved English literature (and I was damn good with it) and I wanted to become an English literature teacher. I thought since I royally fucked-up my ambitious aspirations of being a lawyer, I needed to find a way to make my life work where I could find even an iota of joy in the muck of failures. English was it. I graduated with an Associate’s of Arts degree in English Language & Literature. Shortly afterwards, I transferred to my local university and began a new load of struggles.
I wanted to major in Asian Studies and Creative Writing, but my ex thought that my degree would be “an illogical and useless choice” as it would make finding a decent job (i.e.: a money-making machine) difficult. His entire family felt that way, which they voiced to him but never to me. When I began my first semester, I was filled with so much doubt because of it, and I kept second guessing myself every single time I went into my classes. If I enjoyed my classes, such as Asian Civilisations, then I felt even more guilty and his hurtful and unsupportive words would just echo in my mind like spiteful ghosts I couldn’t get rid of. Suffice to say that I ended my first semester with a C- average, and each semester after that became a huge burden for me. The passion and drive that I had for learning, that excitement and thrill I used to get from thinking about school, completely fucking died within me.
To make matters even worse, my husband had an affair with a girl who was eight years younger than him, aged about eighteen or nineteen (we both knew her since she was fourteen or fifteen years old and attended her HS graduation party), and she was part of a sorority on campus. After I found out about the affair and we had decided on divorcing, her sorority began to bully me every single time I came across any of them on campus. Things had gotten so bad for me that I could not set foot at school without having a severe anxiety or panic attack, or a weird mutation of both. I would literally hide in the bathroom until I could get stabilised enough to make it back to my car.
I dropped out that semester after failing every single class and two suicide attempts, which was two and half years after I began attending university. I also took a semester off somewhere in the middle to get help for my depression.
I did try speaking to counsellors and a few other people about what was happening to me so I could get the bullying to stop. No one took me seriously. They all felt that since I had depression and anxiety that it was all in my fucking head. No one would help me and I tried so fucking hard. So goddamn motherfucking hard. But universities don’t give a shit about people outside of sororities and fraternities. This experience taught me that. Or maybe it was because I was a brown skinned girl and the girl who cheated with my ex was a white girl, along with every single person in her sorority. I honestly don’t know the reason. It could also be that people are so fucking uninformed about mental health and prefer to blame people who have mental illness rather than to support them and see they’re not fucking crazy; that sometimes environmental experiences and people are the causes of said mental illnesses (like PTSD).
I met Sir Betrothed earlier in that year, after my ex and I had separated awaiting divorce finalisation, and they were the first person that I had met who had treated me like I wasn’t crazy. They treated me like a human being. Eventually, I moved in with Sir Betrothed (as best friends) and we fell in love somewhere along the bookish-infused journey.
I spent three years after my last semester in university barely treading the surface to find myself again. I remember crying in the middle of my new bedroom some months after moving in and feeling like the biggest mothercunting failure ever. All I could contemplate was how much I had let my parents down, how I had sacrificed all of my hopes and dreams for one stupid, abusive, disrespectful piece of shit who had raped me—physically, emotionally, and mentally—to the point where there was absolutely nothing left of me. I would look at my old English textbooks and feel miserable about the time I had spent in university after finally getting to that step that I was so looking forward to.
With help from Sir Betrothed and two of my cousins, and even my parents here and there, I was able to accomplish SO much in the past three years, since that terrible semester and my divorce.
- Learned what mental health conditions I have.
- Learned how to cope with having those conditions, particularly how to handle living with anxiety, paranoia, and panic disorders.
- Learned to accept that due to my conditions (and my shitty heart) I would never be able to get at traditional job, or be able to live on my own without some kind of care.
- Sought counselling for being a victim or rape and abuse.
- Taught myself to unapologetically accept myself and everything that makes me individually me, such as being an Asian-Polynesian, Asexual biromantic, far more intelligent than I was ever allowed to give myself credit for, etc.
- Fight the harmful and hurtful behaviour patterns instilled in me by my ex as well as my conservative parents.
- Pursue my passions with every ounce of joy and excitement and ambition that I felt for them (starting the blog was the very one that I pursued!).
- To openly chat about things with negatively associated stigmas so that I can educate others and help people who, like me during that last semester, were laughed into loneliness and self-loathing out of ignorance and godawful selfishness.
After all of those experiences, most of which were absolutely atrocious… I’m going back. And I’m fucking frightened like Scooby and Shaggy in episode 16 of Scooby-Doo! Where Are You? (That is an amazing episode, by the way. I am obsessed with Scooby-Doo, and Scooby-Doo! Where Are You? is my favourite TV show ever.)
As you can see, me returning to university is a really big deal to me. While I am super afraid of failing again, mostly because I honestly don’t think I could survive another huge let-down of something I love and want so badly in a mental and emotional way, I know that things will be different this time because I am doing this 100% for me and no one else. I’m going to get a second (and maybe a third because the programs are so bloody similar) Associate’s Degree in Intercultural Studies (the third would be International Studies, if I decided to pursue it). Then I’m going to transfer to a university in one year and finish my Asian Studies degree. But I will be doing a double-major in Psychology because I want to help people like me who had no one to help them in their time of need, as well to gain a better understanding of my conditions.
I have a plan, which is good place to start. Nevertheless, even with a plan, what is the best way to return to college? Is there even a way to prepare for it? More so if you are in your thirties (I will be 31 in October), have an ugly history with school, and struggle with immobilising bouts of anxiety and panic disorders?
I have a plan for this too.
The most important thing when going back to school after a break, no matter the reason for the break, is to stay positive and optimistic. Telling yourself that you are going to fail before you even have the bleeding chance to begin is like eating a lima bean when you know you’re allergic to it (yes, it’s a legitimate food allergy, I have it, but that’s okay because lima beans are disgusting). It is unwise, unhealthy, and will probably kill you. Even if you have an EPI pen, you’re still going to feel shitty and miserable for a while. So… don’t eat the fucking lima bean, George.
The second thing to keep in mind is that you will need a support system. This could be in the form of friends and family, of which I am blessed to have Sir Betrothed and our newest house-mate as well as my two cousins. It can also be friends you have made online with whom you are comfortable enough to reach out to and talk to when things get super tough. You are also welcome to contact counsellors at your college. That’s what they are there for! While the Dean and other people in positions of power and authority at my university didn’t give a cat’s arse about me, I could tell the counsellors actually did; they were genuine. Asking for help, even if that help is just needing someone to tell you that everything will be okay or just there to provide a silent shoulder for you cry/lean/nap on is such a powerful thing and also one of the most challenging parts of living, in general.
The third thing is to have some coping methods packed into your stylish utility belt of awesomeness (sounds like it belongs in Guardians of the Galaxy, to be honest). For example, whenever I feel super anxious and on the verge of having an attack of some sorts while I’m out in public, specifically on school grounds, I find a big tree and sit down beneath it. I prefer to find ones with benches, but that has more to do with my own bug-phobia than anything else. I close my eyes, and start taking slow, deep breaths. Then I imagine one of three places. The first is my dream library, which was the library at my brother’s house actually. It had tall ceilings with two stories of bookshelves, large windows, cushy leather couches, and a bitching fireplace. It also had a baby grand black piano and a table custom made for D&D sessions. It always brings me comfort because I used to spend hours in there whenever I felt weighted down by life or my obligations. It’s also a wonderful place for napping. The second place I imagine is the grand black piano that was in my brother’s living room. I would sit on the bench beside him with my head on his shoulder, watching him literally create musical magic. Typing it up right now as I am picturing it is already filling me with a sense of calm. The third place is sitting on the couch in my living room with my head on Sir Betrothed’s shoulder while they read, play video games, etc. Usually when I picture this we are either reading together or running away from Lisa in Resident Evil.
Escapist imagery like this, specifically ones that brings us comfort, can do wonders to help alleviate the racing pulse and nausea that comes with general anxiety and panic attacks. Make sure to keep taking slow, deep breaths. When you open your eyes and if those feelings start to return, just hold on to the imagery the best that you can. Take it one breath and one step at a time. You will notice a difference and things will gradually get easier. This also works fantastically if you’re a music aficionado, as you can plug in your headphones/earphones and your favourite calming music. I use the sounds of rain or Vivaldi concertos.
The fourth thing to do is to make sure your first semester back you are taking a class that is all about college success. I wish I did this my Freshman year at university because I know it would have assuaged a lot of my concerns and self-doubt, or better prepared me to tackle those feelings when they came up. I am definitely taking this class this semester, my first one back. In case if you’re wondering, “Well, Neko, you haven’t taken the bloody class yet, how the bloody hell do you know it works?” I asked seven different people who took the course and they all had extremely similar experiences. I also spoke to kids (my friends) who battled with college that didn’t take the class. The class will sound cheesy as hell and seem to be rather easy and pointless, initially, but the deeper that you dive into it as the semester goes on, and even in future semesters, you will notice lessons taught from this preparatory course helping you along your educational journey.
If y’all want, I can do check-ins specifically for this course and let you know from genuine experience what helps, what doesn’t, and overall if it’s even worth it. You know me, I’ll be unapologetically upfront about it.
The fifth and final thing to do to prepare for school is to have a state of mind that is built upon devotion and dedication. Like any passions and aspirations that you may have, half-arsing it will almost always ensure that you only get half of it done. If this is something you really want to do, make sure it’s for you and only you, and then dedicate yourself to doing the very best that you are capable to doing by giving it your full focus. Dedication and diligence are strong weapons capable of accomplishing even the direst and impossible of aspirations.
BONUS THING! Believe in yourself with unconstrained confidence. You can fucking do this and you will kick-ass doing it! You are intelligent and nothing can stop you. You are the ultimate BOSS! ♥
Okay… this post may have gotten away from me. Oh well, such are the Self-Care Sunday posts. I hope that if you are currently in school and having difficulties in any way, want to go back but are afraid, or want to begin but aren’t sure if it’s for you or that you will be able to succeed, or whatever else your situation may be, think about things that I have said in this post today. Your past or your current strife doesn’t have to control you or stop you from following your dreams. Also, if you are in school but are realising that it really isn’t for you, don’t feel pressured to complete it. Even when you get your degree at the end, you won’t feel accomplished because it ain’t what you want. Or if you end up not succeeding, you will only feel that much worse about it. School isn’t for everyone and that’s totally okay!
Shit happens and shit will continue to happen. Such is the way of life and moving forward or living. It’s what we do in the face of that shit that will help define us as individuals and help shape us into the people that we want to become. Who do you wanna be?
Thank you so much for visiting me today. Until next time, keep reading and keep otakuing. 💜
Hello, friends! If you enjoy my content, please consider supporting me with a one-time Ko-Fi ($3) donation, so that I can pay for my medications, and for the maintenance and upkeep of the blog! I would greatly appreciate any ounce of support you could provide. Thank you. 🖤