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Response to Locut0s (Reply #30)

Sun Sep 15, 2013, 05:32 AM

69. Locut0s, my heart really, really goes out to you. Stick with it! YOU are worth it.

This will be long; I will tell you why I can connect with what you are saying...and why I really really wish I could just
reach out to you and hug you and maybe open a textbook with you and give you whatever support I can. I can relate
to you from my own experience, with OCD and perfectionism (which I think derives quite a bit from lower self-esteem).
I can relate because my sister has similar approaches right now in her college pursuits. I can relate because my
son has BP, OCD, ADD, severe anxiety, and he is going to try college again in January.

But first: Regarding the expensive to make up part...perhaps the MOST expensive option would be the one that weakens your chances of completing the entire course of study? In other words, slower and steadier may be the very best option. Difficult to make up...I presume that means perhaps that all courses aren't offered all the time or each semester, and one ends up waiting to get into the courses? You need to do what will work best for YOU. If it takes I dunno two more years, or four more years, but you complete it, and complete it being able to have time to breathe a bit and still be human...I'd say it is darn well worth it. Bet it won't take you even half as long as it took me to get my degree. How does 35 years strike you? No kidding. 1973-2008. IT WAS WORTH IT.

About being in a school with a more challenging program: here's an opposite experience. School is one of the few things in life that came naturally to me. I was painfully shy, had very low self-esteem, and little in common with most people.... my interests were intellectual, which other people had no interest in, and it seems much of the world only wants beer or stoned oblivion and to speak of TV or movie or internet personalities who impact no one and nothing of any significance...I can never remember who those people are, and couldn't care less what they have done unless it is a contribution to humanity.........so, I was always a loner. Painfully alone. Education, that was a breeze, and I have always been interested in everything. School I could do...alone. That was the one place in life I could feel some success (until I began working full-time and succeeded there as well). I began college in 1973, age 17, right after high school, went for two semesters, and dropped out because I was bored to death. I could only afford a community college, because my mother refused to fill out any financial aid papers. She said since I wasn't a minority, there would be no scholarship help. My teachers were going crazy, telling me I could go to any college I wanted to, ANY college, and they couldn't stand it that I couldn't go. I can still see dear old Miss Bell literally yelling and almost tearing her hair out. But Mom wouldn't budge. It was 20 years later I found out that Mom saw no need for women to get an education, nor to even take science or math in high school. (I found out when my daughter went to college...I had my condo foreclosed on because the choice was to lose my home, or she would lose her education, and I could not have her suffer as I had done all my life for lack of a degree....) I was stunned when Mom revealed that. My mother is a brilliant woman (side effect of Marfins syndrome), sent me to private grade school, and had always shown great value for education....until college. So I could only go to a crap school, with no advanced classes available, and the English class I was forced to take spent six full weeks on 'how to write a term paper'. OMG. The other classes were similarly horrendous. In one class all the tests were multiple choice, the teacher gave us the list of the 20 questions on the test in advance, and then he would curve the test, dropping about 5 questions, because most of the lazy bums who were supposed to be students still couldn't pass the test otherwise. It was slow death by brain asphyxiation. In high school, I had taken college level courses; in this college, I was forced to take courses that I could have aced in 8th grade. In contrast, in my later years, I had fantastic professors that challenged me to my limits, and who were not-so-secretly thrilled that when I answered essay questions, I would write two pages instead of two paragraphs... I just loved the topics so much (American history) that I loved to repeat it ALL back. Writing the essays helped to grind the information in (use it or lose it).

At age 18, I went to work full-time, and went to school part-time, trying to figure out what I should do. Then I got married very young, at 19, and a great deal of the reason for that was parental pressure: unvoiced but clear as day: a woman's job was to get married and have children, period. I got married, had 2 children, and then divorced by age 28, with devastating financial consequences. So I went to college every chance I got over the years; some of my employers paid for my classes. It was extremely difficult to manage, as a single parent I worked either two jobs, or 70 hour a week crap management jobs no one else would take, plus went to school, and never did I get any assistance from anyone with the children...not their father, nor my parents, nor sisters...no one...my son was bipolar, and no one had the energy to handle him, not even so much as to come to visit with me for an hour, so it was all on me, completely, for 20 years. Single parents of children with severe BP don't have friends....even if you have time, no one wants to be around. No one. I still remember reading Descartes at 2 am, in-between sessions of trying to help my son sleep, then getting up at 7am to get the kids to school, then going to work for 11 hour days, then dinner and baths and housecleaning and study again in-between another round of my son's nightly terrors. But I never gave up. I couldn't go to school every semester, nor every year, and frequently had to stop for years at a time due to financial and other constraints, but I never gave up. I graduated summa cum laude in December of 2008....35 years later. It was worth it. All of it. I'll never see a financial gain for this education (certified as a teacher, just as 20,000 were laid off in Pa), but it was worth it. FOR ME. For my self-esteem, and certainly for the way in broadened my mind and my understanding of so many more facets of this world. YOU ARE WORTH IT TOO. DON'T GIVE UP. WE ARE ALL HERE PLUGGING FOR YOU!

Even though school was fun and relatively easy for me, I too approached college with OCD, turning two years of my life into a torment. By the age of 50, I had completed two years of college, (some credits expired over time...had to take two science courses with labs twice, and I switched from business courses (paid by employers) to Education) and I had the opportunity with a remarriage to go back full time to school. It had been 10 years since I last went to school, and age was beginning to make everything a little harder. I did 40 hours of homework a week with a 5 class load each semester, with a one hour commute each way to the college, plus worked part-time, and had to handle everything in the household (I love my husband but he does nothing outside of his job). It was almost suicide, physically. It was too much, the standards I set for myself, but I HAD to graduate summa cum laude, because I knew I could. I could not bear the thought of wasting any of the opportunity I finally had. But boy, did I sweat it. And my sister is doing this now, she has very bad OCD,and she sweats the grades and screams about the work...and always aces it...but doubts she will get that 'A' the entire tortuous time....just like I did. We make our lives unnecessarily hellish...but that's just who/how we are...well thank goodness it doesn't last forever. That's the best part: there is a finish line. Count the days necessary and watch them shrink. Stick it through, and you will come to the pot o gold at the end. It is worth it because YOU are worth it.

Your story really touches me, because my son will be going through something somewhat similar..if he is able to maintain his courage and does go back to school in January as he currently plans. He is bipolar, with OCD, ADD, terrible anxiety, and he is age 31. He took two college classes before and 'aced' them, but he is still terrified. TERRIFIED. FILLED WITH SICKENING, PARALYZING TERROR. It is torture...torture for him, and torture for me, because my children mean everything to me. He is terrified...and yet, he is brilliant. That's not just Mom speaking. All of his teachers felt compelled to marvel at his brilliance, while mourning his inability to use that brilliance due to his emotional control problems. It is really hell to be so smart, smart enough to know your problem is emotions you can't control...and to know that you can't help that you can't control them........and that most of the rest of the world has the attitude "gee, just get over it".....it is torment. He is a hard and dedicated worker, always must do 110%...and then, his emotions spin out of control. It is hell. One bright spot is that he is smart enough to make intelligent decisions about his meds...which often have been the cause of the problems, rather than the solution. With feedback from those close to him (me and his girlfriend), he eventually figures out which med is the problem, and insists with his doctor that a change be made...and he has always been right. Maybe ONE day the perfect med will be found.......one can always dream........

Mania has one advantage: his mind works at an amazing speed, sucking up information and processing it, putting it all together, at an amazing pace. He has an amazing store of knowledge and instant recall for so many things regarding social studies, politics, science, and computer hardware...........but he has absolutely no math or writing skills whatsoever. His BP began afflicting him by kindergarten, and by 6th grade he was totally off-the-wall. He grew to be 7' tall, so keeping him steady on his meds was impossible; he just grew too fast to stabilize...he grew a full shoe size one October and another full shoe size that November, in 7th grade. The best we could achieve was a two-week stretch of peace here and there, little islands of rest between months of agony for both of us, and his sister. He could not remain emotionally stable enough to focus for long because of his emotions, and at the same time the materials they gave him to work with bored him to death. Each special ed teacher had so many students at so many different levels, they just handed him a text and said Read it, and that was about it, once he got to sixth grade. No personal instruction, no educational interaction. Books, and worksheets, shut up and work by yourself. For five years. Once he was given the same text book for social studies two years in a row. He told the teacher about it, and she said do it again...couldn't even get him a different book. Since I was working two jobs during the day, plus dealing with his emotional tirades in the evenings and his nightmares half the night, I couldn't give him much assistance myself by trying to teach him...he just was in no state to be taught, and I was exhausted. For decades. So, as a result, he has middle school math skills.......MAYBE middle school, and cannot construct much of a sentence...forget a paragraph or a term paper. This is a frightening way to begin college. But he is brilliant, and mostly stable now (anxiety being his greatest detriment), and I am going to try to tutor him via telephone and internet. And I have some strategies that I used myself that I am trying to get him to employ: study the text BEFORE you start the course, as far ahead as possible.... great stress reliever for me! I am sure I can move him up a few courses in math in a few months, before he takes the placement tests at the college. He will likely still be taking some remedials, but I hope we can mitigate that. The writing, though, that will be a very painful process, to be learning BOTH his course of study, and basic writing skills. That will just take time and a LOT of help....and praying that he doesn't panic and quit. It will be very very hard for him, despite his brilliance and incredible work ethic ... the panic is overwhelming and this will certainly trigger it time and time and time again, and I can only help from 65 miles away for the most part.

Since the age of 21, he has been trapped in the public assistance nightmare. The only way I could 'afford' to get him the mental health care he so desperately needed, was to 'throw him out', because otherwise, there would be no public assistance and no health care....for as long as I could, I had paid $800 a month for his meds alone, plus doctor visits...after 21, I couldn't cover him on my work insurance. I was just barely able to pay rent, utilities, food and his medical care...but nothing else...you know, 'little things' like clothing and car repairs....devastatingly impossible to pay for. So I had to find another way. I was able to get him into a special program in our town in Maryland...immediately...so he never lacked shelter, food, utilities. The program knew how to get him help immediately, a miracle with the way those things are set up. Had he lived with me, he would have received no help at all, and within months, I would have been choosing (once again) between food or utilities, etc. This came up exactly at the same time I met my future husband and moved 90 minutes away to a neighboring state, ergo rendering him 'homeless', which was a requirement for him to be able to get into this special program. It seemed like Providence. It still does. My son had reached a point where living with me was making him dependent in a very negative way for both him, and for me. The program was able to help him in ways that I never could have done, just because I AM his mother, and he is bipolar. That's too long a story to explain.

He eventually became (mostly) steady on different meds, praise the Lord, and through public assistance has had his own apartment, (a very tiny hole of a place dating to 1861) and some independence, and........nothing else. Just crap minimum wage jobs...but if he ever earns the limit...I think between $12k and $15k, somewhere in there...he will lose all public assistance........even though his health care needs would absorb almost all of that, leaving no money for housing (about $900 a month minimum) or food. While earning perhaps $6k to $8k a year, he has already lost SNAP (well, unless you want to count $12 a month I think it is), and do you know how much groceries are for a 7' tall young adult male? And he has lost some forms of medical assistance as well. So he has been TRAPPED in this nightmare......great position to be in when you suffer from depression and anxiety often to begin with. You CAN'T work yourself up the ladder from minimum wage, the system won't let you. I am powerless to help him financially, except occasional bits here and there; I am unemployed and my husband had to retire early due to his health, and he now works part-time in the hopes we can keep a roof over our heads until Medicare kicks in (our health insurance is $1525 a month). My son's only hope is to complete college in the hopes of obtaining employment with a salary that allows for medicine/insurance, food, rent, and clothing. If he can't achieve that, he said he'd rather be dead than face age 41 in the same hopeless position he has been in since age 21. He wants to do something with computers. He is always tearing them apart and re-building them for friends, and speaking in a mumbo-jumbo I don't even want to learn. But most of all, he just wants the basic human dignity of a job, and a paycheck, and of taking care of himself, himself...and to get married one day. His girlfriend also has emotional disorders. They aren't 'allowed' to marry...because then the only assistance they would get would be assistance for one of them, but this would have to somehow pay for both of them to survive, which is impossible. This is tearing him to pieces. They live really far away from each other, also, so getting time together is really hard. But beyond all that, the extreme humiliation of being dependent on public assistance is eating him up from the inside out, and literally getting close to killing him.

So, each and every day, dear Locut0s, I will be thinking of you, and praying for you, and watching for your updates. I understand the anxiety, the panics, the OCD, the doing-too-much, the fear of failure. I understand that you are an OVERACHIEVER, not an underachiever, because you have to invest many, many more times the effort and COURAGE to do what others without these difficulties think is oh so hard! And very few of those people will appreciate just how much courage, and patience, and try-and-try again, and don't give up it requires. And few of them could come anywhere close to doing what you have done. They don't know, but I do, and so do others here on DU.

So I wish I could be there to sit with you and go through a text and give you encouragement, and keep reminding you that you are worth this battle, and tell you that if you keep on fighting this battle, as best you can, one day you will find out you have won. And hopefully realize you are ten times the man that your cohorts in college were.

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Locut0s Sep 2013 OP
NYC_SKP Sep 2013 #1
Locut0s Sep 2013 #20
CaliforniaPeggy Sep 2013 #2
Locut0s Sep 2013 #21
vanlassie Sep 2013 #3
Locut0s Sep 2013 #22
vanlassie Sep 2013 #35
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steve2470 Sep 2013 #49
HipChick Sep 2013 #4
Locut0s Sep 2013 #23
applegrove Sep 2013 #5
Locut0s Sep 2013 #24
applegrove Sep 2013 #28
patricia92243 Sep 2013 #6
Locut0s Sep 2013 #25
Tobin S. Sep 2013 #7
hunter Sep 2013 #15
Locut0s Sep 2013 #26
In_The_Wind Sep 2013 #8
Locut0s Sep 2013 #27
MiddleFingerMom Sep 2013 #9
Locut0s Sep 2013 #29
applegrove Sep 2013 #37
Tuesday Afternoon Sep 2013 #10
Locut0s Sep 2013 #30
Tuesday Afternoon Sep 2013 #33
LineLineLineNew Reply Locut0s, my heart really, really goes out to you. Stick with it! YOU are worth it.
DebJ Sep 2013 #69
Locut0s Sep 2013 #70
hedgehog Sep 2013 #11
Locut0s Sep 2013 #31
LiberalEsto Sep 2013 #12
Locut0s Sep 2013 #32
Dash87 Sep 2013 #13
Locut0s Sep 2013 #34
Dash87 Sep 2013 #42
Locut0s Sep 2013 #60
Solly Mack Sep 2013 #14
Locut0s Sep 2013 #36
many a good man Sep 2013 #16
Locut0s Sep 2013 #38
handmade34 Sep 2013 #17
Locut0s Sep 2013 #39
Phentex Sep 2013 #18
Locut0s Sep 2013 #40
riderinthestorm Sep 2013 #19
Locut0s Sep 2013 #41
musical_soul Sep 2013 #46
Locut0s Sep 2013 #53
Duer 157099 Sep 2013 #43
Locut0s Sep 2013 #54
Duer 157099 Sep 2013 #63
Lady Freedom Returns Sep 2013 #44
Locut0s Sep 2013 #55
musical_soul Sep 2013 #45
Locut0s Sep 2013 #56
musical_soul Sep 2013 #67
steve2470 Sep 2013 #47
Locut0s Sep 2013 #57
hedgehog Sep 2013 #50
Locut0s Sep 2013 #58
Bunnahabhain Sep 2013 #52
Locut0s Sep 2013 #59
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riderinthestorm Sep 2013 #62
Locut0s Sep 2013 #64
musical_soul Sep 2013 #68
Locut0s Sep 2013 #65
GreenPartyVoter Sep 2013 #66
Locut0s Sep 2013 #71
RedCloud Sep 2013 #72
elleng Sep 2013 #73
Tobin S. Sep 2013 #74
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