Why I’ve Gone Back to College at 53

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This last fall (September 2015) I started classes full time at the University of Washington Tacoma taking a full load. This is something of a miracle because I live with Bipolar 1, PTSD, ADHD, and a healthy dose of anxiety. Lots of anxiety. You might think going back to school, and being around all those people, and having to get up when I’m depressed, and write papers when I’m depressed, stressed, manic and full of anxiety is a pretty fool-hearted thing to do. It may be. It certainly hasn’t been easy. I admit it probably triggered the episode I’m riding out right now. But still, here I am. I made Dean’s List (I got good grades) last quarter.

I’m here because I have been being a no one. I’ve had nothing to do and not a thing to contribute to society. I’m here because my brain needed a jumpstart. And, I’m here to learn to do the things I need to know in order to reach some of my goals.

How’ve I been doing? I’ve had melt downs. I skipped classes once last quarter. I’ve freaked out over writing papers (It was about 30 years ago that I wrote my last paper.) Every week brings new challenges and triumphs. Yes, I’ve had some triumphs along with my bumps and bruises. I’ve been terrified a lot. Even the drive to and from and parking make me anxious. I leave an hour and a half before class so I’m never late and always have a place to park. (It’s how I cope.)

I’ve gone into this with my eyes open and done all I can do to prepare. I’ve registered with the Disability Services office because I’m legally disabled and I need to be able to tap their help when I need it (like having longer to take a test) and I do. Near the end of last quarter I had a meltdown that sent me to my doctor who put me on a chill pill. It was like magic. I could calm down and think. I was able to finish the quarter actually have finished writing the papers and remembered to turn them in. (This was the chill Pill I mentioned a few days ago.)

What am I getting out of this? As I’ve said I needed a jolt to my brain. I’ve always fancied myself a communicator and I’d lost my ability to do that. I had even stopped my sloppy blogging.

I took a huge risk. I’m still taking that risk and it is paying off. I’m being challenged to think in ways I haven’t thought in years. I feel smarter though in all probability it’s just the cobwebs coming lose. I’m also driving some of my classmates nutty by asking them questions that any Freshman should know. But I’m a transfer student and I’ve forgotten all that Freshman stuff. Plus, now we use technology and not paper and pencil. I’ve had a lot to learn even with the basics like how to turn in an assignment online. Not everyone is patient and willing to answer these kinds of questions.

If you’ve been thinking of challenging yourself and reaching outside of your comfort zone I encourage you to try it. You can always go home and refuse to leave again. Or, maybe you’ll like the way that it makes you feel.

5 responses »

  1. Hey! I can relate, kinda, I went back to university after 5 years working as an engineer, I’m now doing my Masters in engineering, it is so scaryespecially if you’re like me who gets freaked outby driving. I run experiments now, which is a special kinda pressure because for 4 days everything has to go according to plan or all the work is botched. anyway good luck on your journey of discovery and figuring out how to work the IT system of your wonderful institution. 🙂

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  2. Pingback: Why I’ve Gone Back to College at 53 – wandasncredible

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