I can’t think of a word that describes this region better in both aspects of the definition.

Fen Jen.

There comes points in time where I feel like everything around me is stuck and sinking in the muck.  There are no explosions or massive collapses.  It’s a time dependent creep where I feel like I’m standing on solid ground but as I carry more emotional loads and I then try to shoulder them and move on, I’m in up to my knees and I don’t know how I got there and it’s a struggle to get out.  It’s frustrating and cumbersome.  If I misstep while trying to fight my way out of it, I could end up with mud on my face or drop my precious cargo so I can slog my way through the slough.  It’s the curse of clinical depression.  If it weren’t for my tenacity to get to where I need to be, I would have sunk a long time ago, like that damn horse in the Neverending Story.

Yep.  It’s a curse.  There’s stigma attached.  I can’t go explaining my lapses to people of authority because it is a weakness.  Unless a person knows what it is like to be depressed for no reason besides a chemical imbalance, they don’t understand.  Most days I can kick myself out of bed and other days, I succumb.  I wonder what it would be like to just sleep forever lost in my dreams.  Fortunately, an invisible umbilica cord gives me a good tug.  I have people I love depending on me and I can’t let them down.

I’ve missed class and work twice the past week because the depression got the best of me.  It obfuscates my judgement sometimes.  It compounds my problems into more stress on my shoulders and I sink a little further.  In order to pick myself up and make myself feel better, I impulsively do things that give me momentary happiness like drinking, socializing, sleeping.  Unfortunately, it’s only a superficial happiness, like a band-aid on an angry bruise with a kiss to make it feel better.

The depression is insidious. I’m trying to fight it but I can’t do it alone.  I need help.  I have a really long struggle ahead of me to get the help I need.  Here’s a letter I wrote to the student ombudsperson:

I sought mental health services from the counseling center prior to classes starting because in the past I was diagnosed with clinical depression and ADD. I have been experiencing increased symptoms and I was hoping to get everything squared away before classes started so I could focus and not have mental illness standing in the way of my progress.  I don’t have health insurance and figured this would be a good way to start.  I need accommodations for testing and medication.

They denied me services on the basis that I need continuing care so it was unethical to assist me.  They referred me to the Norfolk Community Services Board and washed their hands of me.  I’m there now in counseling which helps a little but they have no available psychiatrists until December 6.  I need help now.  My coursework is suffering because I am not receiving the medical attention I need to keep myself on task.  I don’t see how their decision is ethical considering how much I am struggling to keep myself afloat until I can get what I need.

Granted, I am not a danger to myself or others but I feel terrible.  I can barely drag myself to class.  I can’t focus in the classroom.  I took a test last night and got so frustrated I cried.   I’m in a morass and I’m having a difficult time coping with juggling my myriad of responsibilities in addition to being burdened with a state of mind and a disability that could potentially cripple my progress.

I need help.  I needed a psychiatrist to help me with medications a month ago.  Counseling alone is not going to help me.  They wouldn’t listen to me at the counseling center.  Now I’m in this predicament.  i missed 4 classes this week because I couldn’t get out of bed.  How am I supposed to explain that to my professors?  Mental illness carries a stigma.  I don’t want them knowing that I’m actually a wreck.

I don’t know what else to do.  The only way I can get immediate care is if I am a threat to myself or others.  What is ethical about that?  Is it standard practice in the mental health professional community to wait until it’s too late?  Seems to me a lot of universities have that problem.  Students cry out for help and the buck gets passed.  I’m not a buck.  I’m a person.  I’m a student and a customer.  I pay fees to have these services available to me and yet I am unable to access them on the basis of ethics.  (As much as I don’t want to say this because I don’t want this misconstrued as a threat, I’m going to; I need to prove a point.) What if i were that VA tech student?  Or that student at UT?  Our counseling department needs to seriously reconsider how it handles students with true mental illness who need medications to stabilize their moods and emotions.  Passing them off to the City of Norfolk is not going to make things better for them because the city does not have the resources to deal with it in a timely manner.

I just want to feel normal and be a good student.  I’m not going to fare well this semester if I don’t get the help I need soon.  I’m already starting to slip.  Can someone there please do something for me on my behalf?  I don’t have the energy to fight this anymore.  I just need someone to diagnose me so I can go to student disability services for testing arrangements and prescribe and manage my medications until I can get to the appointment I have on Dec 6.  Then I can take it from there and won’t need assistance from the university.

Thank you.


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