A Warning

As some of you who have been reading my blog know, I’ve been having some problems with my friends and my mental health.  Recently I had, what I consider, an appalling experience with the administration at my school which revealed a shocking misunderstanding and lack of support for students dealing with mental illness.

Earlier this week, on a night I was feeling particularly depressed, I reached out to a friend hoping for a little support.  Despite multiple texts, the friend didn’t respond.  The friend– although that’s probably no longer an appropriate description for this person– lives in the same apartment complex as I do and it wasn’t uncommon for us to pop in and out of each other’s apartments.  I resigned myself to the abandonment of another friend and eventually tucked myself into bed, hoping to wake up to a better day.

Upon waking, I was greeted by a missed call and voice mail from the administration of student services at my school requesting a meeting with me and alluding to the concern for my mental well being.  The message indicated that some friends had been in touch with the administration about my recent depression.

I went to the meeting, terrified that someone was trying to commit me.  I’ve always had a fear of being involuntary commitment and as I waited for the meeting I frantically researched my state’s commitment laws.

Luckily, at the meeting I learned that I wasn’t being committed.  However, I did learn that the friend who I had texted the night before had reported my texts not only to the university counseling center but also to student services.  The complaint was that my texts and cries for support were disturbing, distracting, and stressful.  I was appalled by this on a number of levels.  First– that my friend had reported me instead of supporting me. Second– I was appalled that I was being reprimanded for reaching out to a friend to support.  I left the meeting, having had to promise not to contact this person anymore.

This situation was upsetting to me on a number of levels and did little to help stabilize me or alleviate the depression that had led me to reach out to a friend.  What are friends for if you can’t reach out to them for support during a rough time?  Loyalty and support have always been a staple in my treatment and interaction with my friends.  Not only had the friend ignored my cries for help but he had gone so far as to report my behavior as being “disturbing” to him.

Ashamed and insulted at having had to promise not to contact friends, I trudged through the rest of the day.  Disgusted by the administration’s response to my clear emotional distress, I managed to make it through another lonely night on my own, believing that the shaming was over.

However, the next morning I woke up to an email from the administration following up on the meeting.  The email reviewed what we had discussed and instructed me in the following way:

“As we discussed, our concern is for both your emotional wellbeing and for the wellbeing of our campus community.  We expect that, in the future, when you are experiencing emotional distress and need to reach out for help, you will access appropriate resources available to you and will not communicate this distress to other member of the campus community through text messages, emails, verbal communication, Facebook communications, or photographs.  Your ongoing use of blogging for therapeutic purposes is up to your discretion, but should not be intended to communicate with others on campus.”

I was, and remain, disgusted by the university’s response to my obvious need for support from friends during what has been an impossibly difficult time.

I apologize to anyone who feels “communicated with” by this blog. (note sarcasm).  This experience remains a tragic and disgusting reminder of how mental illness remains stigmatized and how little support can be expected from fair weather friends.

In spite of this disappointing experience I have found some much needed support from a close acquaintance turned supporting hero.  I remain very thankful for the support of this new found friend, who has helped me weather this storm.  I’m so thankful to find that there are still good people out there and that support for my loneliness has been found in an unexpected place.

My days have slowly been getting easier to get through and my nights less lonely.   The support of this new found friend has gone a long way to get me through my despair and disappointment and the loss of old friends.

Lesson learned: where leaves fall from the tree new ones grow in their place, more beautiful and stronger than the ones they replace.  I will not be silenced in my fight against my illness and, at times, myself.

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15 responses to “A Warning

  • Raeyn

    Jaysus fark, that is some rank bullshit to have to go through. Keep up the good fight though!

  • Gabriel

    That made me surprisingly angry (As in more angry than I thought i would be, as in shaking I was so angry). Well you have support and if the school really is worried no I don’t feel communicated to (eye roll here). I can’t believe they could do that, it’s not like you were harassing someone, they didn’t even give you warning to stop texting. Sorry I guess there is just so many holes in the logic it’s just frustrating. But hey you have us!!

  • Moniba

    Despite all that happened, i’m glad you took a lesson from this. And it is a good one.

  • Raquel

    This shouldn’t be allowed! Schools of all kinds need to be more aware, educated, and willing to learn how to handle these situations better. Mental illnesses exists and they should be treated with just as much care & support as any other out there.

    As for your “friend”, well he should have addressed you with his concerns. He should have told you that he didn’t know how to handle the situation and that it made him uncomfortable. 😦

    I’m glad something good came out of this though. I’m glad you have someone there for you now, who’s helping you get through this.

  • cabrogal

    “Good morning, Worm your honor.
    The crown will plainly show
    The prisoner who now stands before you
    Was caught red-handed showing feelings
    Showing feelings of an almost human nature;
    This will not do.
    Call the schoolmaster!”

    http://www.pink-floyd-lyrics.com/html/the-trial-wall-lyrics.html

  • muggleinconverse

    I am so sorry that you had to deal with such compassionless and unprofessional behavior. Your acquaintance was immature and obviously clueless. I would have hoped that an educational institution would be better informed and prepared to deal with mental health issues. I hope today was a better day. I hope you find a better friend. I hope you’ll continue to communicate with us.

  • cabrogal

    “I went to the meeting, terrified that someone was trying to commit me. I’ve always had a fear of being involuntary commitment and as I waited for the meeting I frantically researched my state’s commitment laws.”

    Maybe someday you’ll be able to do a bit of pro-bono for people caught up in the nightmare of involuntary detention and forced drugging for what some expert says they *might* do.

    • porchitude

      I would add to this that she also could do powerful work later on changing the university’s policies of how they handle students with mental health issues. The way this went down is NOT in line with best practices… Shaming those with mental illness is one of the roots of what’s wrong on this planet.

  • Kaylee

    I love, love, love your blog. Your strength comes across in every word of your beautiful poetic writing. The lord’s grace embraces all of us and he has a purpose for you.

    I’m so sorry you are going through such trying times!! It sounds like your “friend” is a big drama queen himself and probably was never your friend to begin with. You should be proud of yourself for having the strength to stay away from toxic people. His overreactions could hurt your future happiness. The administration sounds totally incompetent to deal with true mental anguish. Ignorance sows the seeds of so much needless pain. I hope you hang onto your new friend as tight as you can!! It can be hard to find forgiveness, but it truly helps unburden our hearts and move into a brighter future.

    Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. Rom. 13:8

  • fitriaoda

    Reblogged this on pondok flannel di jenggawah and commented:
    what`s going on???

  • yellowcallalilies

    This can really happen? How bizarre!

  • Silly Wrong But Vivid Right

    I am so unbelievably disturbed by this. As I began to read the story I intended to comment about an experience I have had (on the other side of things) but soon realised that actually, it’s a completely different story. You’ve been done a massive disservice, and I hope that you are able (or have someone who is able, on your behalf) to communicate this effectively to your university.

    You see, I work in Student Services (in, i assume, a different country to where you are). A year ago, I was in close contact with one guy who was having a particularly hard time with his mental wellbeing. One of the antagonisers of this was a feeling of isolation. I’m glad to report that he seems to have made a complete turn around now and is doing great. There is another guy though who is currently experiencing depression and anxiety which is have a massive detrimental effect on his ability to achieve academically. Let’s call them Guy 1 and Guy 2.

    I’m keeping in touch as much as possible with Guy 2 at the moment, and have referred him on for as much support as I can (whether he accepts support or not is a different story.) Guy 1 came to me a few weeks ago to tell me that he’s noticed Guy 2 seems to be sinking (not knowing that Guy 2 has already been to see me). Being so fresh out of it himself he doesn’t know how to approach Guy 2 to offer him support.

    Sometimes, people don’t know how to deal with other peoples problems. Sometimes other people might seem too fragile to offer support to. Sometimes people are just too scared to have to deal with something they don’t understand. Mental Health problems can seem like a big scary monster to people on the outside. I don’t know your situation or your ‘friends’ motivation – but I really hope that he tried to pass the buck because he didn’t know how to hold it.

    There is, however, no valid excuse for your treatment by your Student Services. I hope that your university can find a more effective way to manage all of the problems their students could possibly encounter.

  • Three Strikes | A Girl Divided

    […] I was apprehensive about seeing Dr. X. When I checked in, he had me put on a low dose of Norco because he thought I’d be in opiate withdrawal. Once I found out that this was why I was being given those pills I started refusing them. I was not, in fact, going through opiate withdrawals because I was not, much to Dr. X’s surprise, a heroin user. This man had been my psychiatrist for a year, had been told about all the drugs I’d done or been doing– and heroin was never on the list– but he nevertheless pegged me for a heroin junkie. (Nothing against heroin junkies, I just know I would never last on that stuff. Because I would die. I like opiates too much, have very little self control, and so I suspect that I wouldn’t last long.) To cut him some slack, which I am loathe to do, the man is the sole psychiatrist for a university of ~12,000 students, including grad students like me, AND he was in charge of the facility that I had checked into– which was not affiliated with the university. Again, this speaks volumes about the inadequacy of the university’s counseling center. (For more on that delight, click here) […]

  • talesofacrazypsychmajor

    Wow. What an awful response from the school. Can’t say I’m surprised though about how terribly schools respond to these things based on my own experience.

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