Two Years Ago Today, I Wanted To Drop Out Of College

I’ve been debating writing about this experience (a huge part of my life) for over a year and a half.

Since August 2014, I’ve written draft after draft and each time I convinced myself it wasn’t meant for the public eye. Now I see that it has just been my fear getting in the way of my truth. I’m ready to tell my story, I don’t care who sees.

Two years ago on this day there was a breaking point, fueled by the catalyst of college, that I consider the lowest point in my 21 years of living.

To be honest I’m not sure where to or how to start. There are so many things I want to say, but the first one is a quote. I think it best explains why I’m writing what I’m writing today.

Credit: @victoriasiemer

Credit: @victoriasiemer

Maya Angelou is 100% right. This story has gnawed away at me in ways both good and bad. Part of it haunts me as the hardest months of my life and reminds me of things I almost wish I could forget.

But if I forgot about my freshman year Fall and Winter quarters, I wouldn’t have the bevy of knowledge that I do, I wouldn’t have experienced immense self-growth, and I wouldn’t be who I am now.

It all started in my first journalism class, JOUR 203. This is the class that almost all journalism freshmen take their first quarter at Cal Poly. It consists of writing stories about news on Cal Poly’s campus. Sounds simple right?

That’s what I thought, too.

On day one of class my professor, Doctor Loving, told us that not everyone would pass the class. He said it was a rigorous, demanding course and that, “every quarter there are a few students who do not pass.”

I’m not kidding you, I laughed. My high school academic record boasted mostly A’s with a few B’s thrown in. B’s that I (literally) cried about when I received them because even SLIGHT imperfection had never been in my vocabulary.

And this was not something instilled in me by my parents. For as long as I can remember (about 4th grade) I have been 10x harder on myself and expected more from myself than anyone else.

I’m talking first place, team captain, teacher’s favorite, A+ standards. Standards that I inherently felt the need to measure up to. Immense pressure that I, and I alone, put on myself.

Accomplishments became a part of my identity, which I always thought was a good thing up until it came shattering apart… but I’m getting to that later.

Doctor Loving’s warning and JOUR 203 did not scare me because at the time, the idea of failure was genuinely humorous.

Prof Loving notices

A week later we were assigned “beats.” If you’re confused what that means, here’s Wikipedia’s definition:

“Beat reporting, also known as specialized reporting, is a genre of journalism that can be described as the craft of in-depth reporting on a particular issue, sector, organization or institution over time.”

Each student had a major assigned to them and that was their beat and lucky me got Aerospace Engineering. I was not stoked.

Doctor Loving explained the story process to our class… research your beat, find a story idea, do research, pitch story idea to him. IF he likes it then go choose three potential sources and write out 20 questions that you would ask your primary source, get those questions checked. IF they are approved then start scheduling interviews, do all of the interviews, write first draft, go on “the walk” with him and discuss your story angle and the information. IF he says no information is missing and you don’t need to conduct more interviews then he edits your draft, then you go back and redraft, meet with him again and again and draft and redraft until he determines that your article is publication-ready, but know that publication-ready does NOT equal an A.

Yeah. We were told we’d have to do five of these.

This is about the time I started sh*tting myself.

For the first time in my entire life I felt a genuine, scared nervousness that brought me physical discomfort and essentially froze my confidence and motivation in its tracks. The entire thing seemed impossible and my fear didn’t wake me up, it shut me down.

While all this was going on I was also going through sorority recruitment, running for dorm Hall Council, adjusting to dorm/college life, experiencing major homesickness, and dealing with my other three classes and the Honors Program.

I told myself I would get to the first story soon.

Week two came and went with me avoiding the AERO building and any work related to the stories. I did the rest of the required class readings and pop quizzes and did well, but the stories still loomed over me like suffocating fog that followed me everywhere.

Week three passed and I had done nothing but think about the possibility of me trying and horribly, horribly failing to get an A in the class. Somehow it made more sense to cower and hide than to face it.

think i might fail

Week four is when I started to hate myself for being so afraid.

6 weeks

I WONT WITHDRAWAL

This was not me. So, Week 5, I used every bit of courage and confidence I could manage to step up to the plate and try.

But I was scared. And I hated how different it was from high school. Why the hell couldn’t I approach this with ease? Why wasn’t I succeeding immediately?

drafts

I was so discouraged, so behind. I was facing the biggest mental block of my life. My emotions were all over the place. Things weren’t looking good for me, but, somehow, I stayed convinced I could make it. I had to.

i wont quit (week 5)

This is when the compulsive all-nighters began.

By Week 6 I still had not completed my first story. I felt as if I was stuck, sinking in quicksand, while I watched the person I used to be disappear. My sense of self and entire perception of who I was had shifted. I was a mess.

crying and failurehate the classI went home for Thanksgiving Break feeling hopeless, depressed, and worthless. I slowly drowned myself in a whirlpool of my negative, self-depricating thoughts. I eventually told my parents everything I was feeling and sobbed for hours on end. They helped me write out an email explaining to Doctor Loving why I needed to withdrawal from the class.

At the time, writing that email was the most embarrassing, painful, and difficult thing I had ever done. I thought I had hit rock bottom… but really, it was just beginning.

Break ended. I was back at Poly and feeling shitty about myself, but had a small tinge of hope that it might get better without 203 hanging over my head. When I visited Doctor Loving’s office to thank him for granting my withdrawal in person, he gave me one of the best pep talks of reassurance I have ever gotten.

I wanted  nothing more than to one day prove to him that I was capable.

loving <3

loving pt 2

Unfortunately, the weeks and weeks of constant stress, crying, all-nighters, going out, freshman dorm germs, etc. got to my body and I started to feel the repercussions of my choices.

PRE-MONO

no health, sleep cry repeat

Next thing I knew I was sleeping for 16 hours at a time during the week before finals.

This, my friends, was when the mono started to set in.

I’ll let Web MD fill you in, just in case you’ve never heard of this virus from hell that was a big part in ruining my life for 3 months and my immune system for, well, honestly up to this present day. I still have an impaired immune system and get sick very easily.

“The most common symptoms of mono are a high fever, a severe sore throat, swollen lymph nodes and tonsils, and weakness and fatigue.” 

Sounds fun, right? Well, I managed to survive finals and make it back home for Winter break. I felt fine my first day back and thought, “maybe it was just a stress cold or something?”

No. That first day back was just a fluke of a seemingly healthy day before I was bed-ridden for two weeks and started to fall deeper into the illness and into my own thoughts, which were dark and sad at the time after everything Fall Quarter put me through.

alone miserable

cant sleep lymph nodes

cant eat, cant drink, crying

After two weeks of what felt like mono + strep + chronic fatigue + the flu + eternal loneliness, I pulled myself together for a pretty good Christmas. It is notable, given where this story goes later, that I started taking new birth control pills at this time. Anyways, I started to regain my physical health and was able to go back to Cal Poly for Winter Quarter.

Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 5.45.44 AM

The days when good blood work results brought me the most joy.

First class of the quarter? Monday. 8am. JOUR 203.

I was shaking on the first day when I walked in, but I had my best friend in the dorms taking the class with me and that provided a small sense of comfort.  Still, I was feeling something I had never felt before in my life.

Anxiety.

During my three weeks of laying in bed, I was so physically sick and mentally and emotionally unwell, that I had a lot of time to dwell on my failure and academic insecurities. When I returned to 203 I found myself, once again, unable to approach the class or any of my coursework without experiencing immense anxiety.

The type that you can feel in every inch of your skin, the type that lights your gut on fire. It’s the lump in your throat and your mind racing and chest pounding all at once.

It took the form of long, drawn-out anxiety attacks before, during, and after class that made me question if anything else would ever make my heart beat that fast again. It even occasionally took the form of panic attacks that snuck up on me without warning and caused me to have to leave the classroom or my dorm room at any given moment.

winter quarter sadnessanxiety beginningsThat tangible reality was failure, no matter how many people tried to convince me that “withdrawal is not synonymous with failing.”

Still, I tried to force myself to start researching my new beat, Kinesiology, which I was grateful for because it seemed easier to grasp that Aerospace Engineering. I managed to find a few story ideas, but couldn’t make it past that. The idea of interviewing people and then the dreaded drafting process left me paralyzed.

Two or three weeks passed and I realized that I was doing the exact. same. thing. as last quarter… letting my fear control me. Only this time, it had my anxiety by its side, too. Together, they dictated every move I made, or rather, the moves I wasn’t making.

The only bright side was that I was feeling better physically. I was so happy to have some of my health back that I took advantage of it around the time of my birthday (Jan. 21st) and started going out and partying again on the weekends.

Around this time I noticed that I was a lot moodier than usual, more sensitive, and had a harder time enjoying myself, but I chalked it up to recovering from everything I went through mentally and emotionally over the past months.

I figured it would subside. After all, it felt so good to be social after what felt like an eternity of solitude over break. In hindsight this was such a poor decision. More super late nights AND activities that inhibit your immune system from doing it’s job?? While recovering from mono?!

Clearly, my decision-making skills were severely underdeveloped.

And old habits die hard.

so scared, yearning for cptv

But things started to look up, too. Early in the first week of February I actually conducted one interview for a story! It seems so insignificant, but at the time it was the most important and brave thing I had done in months.

I mean, it legitimately took me half an hour of pacing back and forth in front of the KINE Department and calling my mom to overcome my debilitating nerves and go find my source.

When I finished the interview and left the building the first thing I did was cry tears of joy. Everybody outside of Campus Market was staring at me, but I didn’t even care. I felt strong for the first time since  September. I had hope.

scared, will conquer

The funny thing about getting sick though, is that sometimes it just waits until that moment when you’ve almost gotten your life back on track a little bit, then it strikes.

This applies to physical, mental, and emotional sickness.

The moodiness, sadness, and sensitivity I began feeling in late January had been getting worse. A few days after my interview success, I started to really feel like I was falling into a depression and, once again, stumbling back into the illness that drove me nearly insane only a month and a half earlier.

all the pain, mess, feb.

But the idea of having mono again was too much to handle. I panicked. I pushed it out of my mind. I kept dancing. I volunteered. I forced it out of my head. I pretended I was fine. I acted 99% of my day. I went out. I went to meetings. I even went to class, most of the time, but the whole time I felt like a ghost watching my body go through life from the outside.

This is where the tipping point came about.

A guy asked me to be his valentine and accompany him to a Valentines Day party. I said yes, because I had myself convinced that I was okay.

Even though I’d been consistently coughing all day, crying all night, and failing at making any progress in 203 all over again.

The night came, I got dressed up, took as much Ibuprofen as the bottle directions allowed, we went to the party, and I went home to my dorm room at the end of the night and fell asleep.

(WARNING: Graphic) I woke up from not being able to breathe. I was choking on the phlegm in my throat, coughing so hard that I spit up a little blood. My entire face and head felt heavy. I could not inhale or exhale without feeling the stickiness of my lungs and pain in my torn-up throat. I felt like my neck was swelling. I couldn’t go more than five minutes without needing to cough up into a tissue. My trash can was overflowing. And I was alone.

My roommate was out of town for the three day weekend. So was my best friend in the dorms. So was my RA. I didn’t trust anyone else to see me like this. I didn’t want anyone else to see me in such a disgusting and vulnerable state.

Once again, here I was sick and alone. Just like mono.

That’s when I finally stopped pretending. I admitted to myself how unwell I was. And I broke down. I opened a tub of mint chocolate chip ice cream, hoping its coldness would numb my throat and the softness wouldn’t hurt it, and also partially hoping that my favorite dessert would make me feel even a tiny bit better.

It didn’t. I put it away.  I cried. I tried to sleep. I couldn’t. Too much coughing. Too much pain. I cried more. The crying made me cough more, which made me cry more. I bawled into my pillow and screeched from the pain in my throat. I was so embarrassed of myself and so ashamed.

I asked myself, “How the hell is this what you’ve become? You’re alone and in bed and crying. And pathetic. You’re sick again because you’re stupid. This is you’re fault. And you’re going to fail again. You’re never going to stop this cycle.”

I laid in bed for the rest of the day, wrestling with my depressive thoughts. Hours passed and I grappled with this new self, deliriously accepting my new identity– a girl full of misery, guilt, and failed attempts at almost everything. I was convinced I would drop out in the middle of the quarter. Maybe not come back at all. Clearly, I wasn’t ready for college. I needed to leave.

Every part of my being wanted to call my mom or my dad and say, “Please. Please come drive down to SLO. I need you to help me. I’m really not doing well and I can’t make it better. I don’t know what to do. Please come help me.”

But I was too ashamed and felt guilty for becoming this person who had to resort to that. I dialed so many times. I couldn’t call. I physically, mentally, and emotionally could not bring myself to call my parents and tell them what was happening. Too hard. Too humiliating.

Eventually, night time came around and I started feeling even worse. I felt like the world was getting smaller around me, like nothing existed outside of a circumference of a few feet of my body. It was dark outside. I felt dark inside. I felt dark everywhere. I grew even more scared. I knew my cycle of negative thoughts would worsen at night.

I didn’t know what would happen. So, I used what little energy I had to pick up my phone one more time. I called one of my closest friends on this Earth, and the most rational person I know, David Cordero.

I told him everything I could manage.

I told him to call my parents and that I couldn’t. He told me he would. I told him I needed them to come down. He told me they would. I told him I was sorry and he told me he loved me and that I needed to sleep.

I hung up. I cried myself to sleep.

February 16th, 2013.

I woke up to my phone ringing. I already had a few missed calls– from the home phone and my mom’s phone. My mom was calling and I picked up. I remember her sounding so worried, but trying to sound so reassuring. She asked if I was okay and told me that my dad was already driving down and would be with me in a couple of hours and that she would be down later that night. I could barely speak because of my throat pain and because I was holding back tears.

Everything after that blurs together a little bit. It happened so fast and I was barely a conscious, functioning human for most of it.

I fell back asleep, woke up to my dad opening the door to my room, him helping me get dressed and pack a bag, him taking me to the emergency MED STOP, and finding out I had sinusitis, bronchitis, and an upper respiratory infection all at the same time. Getting a Z-pack, going to the hotel room in Avila Beach that my parents reserved only hours earlier, my mom arriving, telling them everything, slowly falling asleep, and them promising me that I could sleep in in the morning and that we would go sit on the beach and watch the waves. That was all I wanted. I fell asleep.

Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 5.43.57 AM

They woke me up at freaking 9:00am. Because they found a highly-reccommended therapist in San Luis Obispo who had an opening at 10:00 that morning. I was beyond myself. I had agreed to get help, but not today.

But they wanted to meet him, they didn’t want to wait, so they helped me get ready, we got in the car, and I drifted in and out of the car ride from Avila to downtown SLO.

My first meeting with Ben (name changed for his privacy) did not go well at first. Mostly because I could not speak, I kept coughing and crying, and I hated that he was the reason I had to be up so early in the midst of a mental breakdown. So, my parents sat with me and explained everything.

I was not impressed with Ben until he pointed out something that no one had thought of. Remember the birth control I started at the beginning of January? Yeah, one of its most common side effects, mood swings.

Not that “mood swings” even begins to cover what I went through, but the fact that he confirmed that it was heavily contributing to the feelings of depression was enough to change my opinion of him. I realized he was really weighing all the options and wanted to get to the bottom of how I ended up in this place and how we were all going to get me out of it.

I stopped taking the pills that day. I went back to the hotel with my parents for the rest of the afternoon where they took care of me and helped me write an email to acquire an “Incomplete” in 203. Incompletes are only allowed in situations where the student has legitimate physical or mental needs/issues/concerns that prevent them from completing the coursework on time. I had both. I was given a year to complete the remaining work for 203.

Then we talked in-depth about whether or not I should stay at Poly. Obviously, I did, but I went home the next weekend for more rest and returned the following Monday with a prescription for Prozac to help me cope with my anxiety. And I swear, this helped so, so much. It helped me stay in control and on top of everything without feeling overwhelmed.  When the last of the birth control pills were out of my system it felt like the colors around me were brighter and the world wasn’t so harsh anymore. The difference was extremely noticeable.  And I saw Ben once a week.

feeling capable

February 27th, 2013

February 27th, 2013

February 2014.

I no longer felt the need to see Ben or take Prozac after completing my remaining coursework in 203 at the end of Winter Quarter of my sophomore year. I completed two stories (interviews, drafts, and all) and finished the class with a C after a year and a half. I was so freaking proud. I still am.

Now.

Since then my GPA has done nothing but rise and my confidence in myself in what I am capable of has done nothing but soar. It’s an incredible feeling when I look back on all of this.

There have been many times that I’ve told this story in person, to different people and for different reasons, all of which have led me to finally writing it down and posting it here.

I’m putting this story, one of my many, infinite stories, on my blog because I’m not ashamed anymore. And I’m not embarrassed. I am in a place in my life where I feel comfortable and willing to sharing this with anyone. Even strangers.

Because everyone deserves to know that their struggles are not singular. That there are people out there who understand and will be there for you. Maybe someone out there needs a reminder or a push. I hope this can be that reminder or push for them.

If you need help, seek it. If you went through a rough time, don’t assume people see you as damaged. You are allowed to share whatever you want with the world. Me, personally, I don’t feel damaged. I feel strong and open and free. Writing this has helped me become even more free and I would love for it to inspire others to seek furthered freedom, as well.

Maya Angelou was right. I feel better now.

* in order to find the tweets used in this post I archived my old (now non-existent) Twitter account that I used to use frequently and as an outlet for almost every emotional experience

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12 thoughts on “Two Years Ago Today, I Wanted To Drop Out Of College

  1. thank you so very much for writing this. I did this to myself in college as well. And I found the same pattern repeating itself lately. But giving myself the grace to be well and okay with where I’m at is everything. Thank you!

  2. Wow Mallory! Thank you for sharing your story!! You are a wonderful inspiration for so many and will continue to be for as long as your story is accessible to others!! I am so proud of your success and wish you a bright and wonderful future! Life is hard, unpredictable, and throws tough stuff in our path all the time. I have faith that your ability to overcome such adversity and utilize your new found coping skills has empowered you to work through anything else life has to send your way. Keep sharing your story and inspiring others to get help when they need it! You are right, support and resources are definitely available but it can be difficult to advocate for ourselves when we are in our deepest darkness. Looking out for one another as college students is one of the greatest gifts you can give each other. Thank you for being an advocate for others!! 🙂

  3. Is this a joke? Did you just write this whole thing complaining about having mono and being a journalism major…? There are people out there with cancer and actual diseases that deserve attention and yet here you are complaining about being tired and having a soar throat. I’m sure you were expecting people to say, “Aw you poor baby! Your life is so difficult I don’t know how you got through this!” Boo fuckin hoo. Join the majority of college students who catch mono and still have to do well in class. You’re not special. Also, being a journalism major is NOT that hard. The level of difficulty and intellect in your major is right up there with culinary school. You have ZERO room to complain. Withdrawing from a freshman journalism class? You should be embarrassed! There are engineers and other science majors who have it much harder than you do and you don’t see them writing stuff like this. You know why? Because they’re mature enough to suck it up and realize that life isn’t so easy. Complaining doesn’t get you anywhere and crying yourself to sleep doesn’t solve anything either. It’s clear that you are nothing more than an attention seeker who will never grow up. I’m guessing you’re probably 20/21 years old and yet you still act like a child. You didn’t post this for other people to learn from, you posted it for the likes and for the attention you’d get. You are pathetic and I can’t believe you actually wrote something like this.

    • It’s not a joke and no, I wrote it about having mono, being a journalism major, adjusting to college, identity challenges, the side effects of birth control, depression, anxiety, seeking help, recovery and healing, and learning to accept one’s past. Your comments make me wonder if you truly read the article in depth and were open to the ideas and experiences it addresses, but I digress. I 100% understand how serious other diseases are… there have been multiple instances of cancer in my family and it has impacted me and my family greatly, but you simply cannot dismiss mental health and doing so dismisses the very real struggles of kids, teens, and adults everywhere in the world who deal with a wide array of mental illnesses. Just because “others have it worse” does not negate the very real struggles of others. That logic is simply flawed and hurtful to millions of people. I was not seeking pity and specifically said I do not feel “damaged”, but rather confident in sharing my story and happier and stronger now. I don’t need pity… I spent enough time wallowing in self-pity during the time period I reflected on in this piece. I don’t claim to be special and I KNOW plenty of students have had mono because since posting this I have already had multiple people, friends and strangers, reach out to me telling me how much they appreciated someone talking about it. I am offended that you would place journalism and culinary school into the same category of being “easy” career choices… because neither fall into that category. It’s extremely hurtful to tell someone that their passion is less worthy than others. I could never be an engineer because I do not do well in math and I am not one to ace science classes either, but that does not mean that people who major in those subjects are above those who choose to follow their passion. Everyone has their own struggles and I’m sure people in those fields you consider “harder” have to deal with mental health issues too, which is WHY I’m talking about it. Someone needs to and it doesn’t matter if they are liberal arts, engineering, theatre, or a not in college at all. It’s a universal issue that anyone can struggle with and it is worth talking about. They may not write about things like this because they are uncomfortable and that’s okay, but you cannot assume they just “suck it up” and if they are, maybe they shouldn’t be. Bottling things up is not healthy. Finally, I am not complaining, I am reflecting and there is a huge difference. This happened two years ago and I am a strong, healthy, confident woman now, not a child. You do not know me. Remember that. I wrote this to help people and I know, for a fact, that I have because of the responses I’ve gotten from dozens of people. That is what matters to me. Helping others and creating a dialogue to discuss taboo topics. That is why I write. That is what I am working to achieve and achieving. I am not pathetic, but you should consider whether or not you are for attacking someone on the Internet.

      • Your birth control gave you mood swings and because you were failing your class you had anxiety. That does not make you depressed. Again, join the millions of students who struggle with classes. You make it seem like the biggest struggle of your life. I’d hate to see how you react to finals…really. I would hate seeing your annoying reaction to such a minor speed bump in your life. And you really are a child if you don’t see the reality of this. You just never experienced a hard class before and you getting mono just added to it. I can see how that would suck but that does not categorize you as mentally ill. You are a classic example of someone who capitalizes on any sort of disadvantage you experience and have to share it with the world as evidenced by your ridiculous tweets. If failing one class and getting sick is the biggest struggle of your life, you really need to get a backbone because this won’t cut it in the real world.

  4. Wow…reading this was the biggest waste of my time. I actually just showed my colleagues this and we all cannot believe how naive and idiotic you are. Did you think college was going to be rainbows and unicorns? Good luck being a successful journalist with this mentality because no one in the professional world is going to take you seriously. The only people that are giving you positive feedback are your sorority sisters because they’re obligated to be nice to you. I guarantee you if you gave this to a journalist (or just an adult) they would laugh at your face. You are extremely dramatic and over reacting about how “tragic” this must have been for you. I’m sure your parents are so proud of the immature little baby that they coddled their whole life. Your stupidity and lack of insight into the real world isn’t going to get you anywhere. I have relatives and friends who have suffered from sicknesses much worse than this and it pisses me off reading this piece of shit “article” because all you want is for people to give you attention and to make sure everyone is talking about you. Why don’t you actually do something important with your life and quit writing bullshit like this because NO ONE CARES. I’m sure your future employees are going to love reading this and deciding not to hire you because of how dim witted and naive you are.

    P.s. My favorite piece of your essay? Your tweets. “It kind of scares me that this really scares me. I’m literally scared at the fact that I’m scared of this.” Exquisite use of diction. Spoken like a true journalist.

    • I’m sorry you feel that you wasted your time reading this, but I stand by the fact that it is important to share personal stories to open up a dialogue, end stigmas, and ultimately help save lives and those who struggle with mental health– both on mild and severe levels. I actually did think college would be “rainbows and unicorns” as a freshman, when I experienced all of this, but now I have learned and grown, as I stated towards the end of my piece and is reflected in the entirety of the memoir. I have received quite a bit of positive feedback from peers that are not in my sorority, people who do not even attend my school, adults, and mental illness advocates. And regardless of what feedback I get, I am proud of my work and I feel braver and happier having posted this. If sharing a story helps serve yourself and soul, you should do it, that’s what I believe. But I’m lucky because I know this story has already touched many people, as they have written me expressing their gratitude. My parents are proud of me and they’ve done a great job, so I’m offended that you would insult adults whom you do not know, which includes me. I’m sorry that you know people who have suffered from serious illnesses, but you should know that by not considered mental illness “serious” or worthy of discussing, you are only helping the stigma stick around. It is a very serious issue and for you to dismiss my work as “attention-seeking” is hurtful and undermines the entire purpose. I disagree with your views, but understand how you came to them. At the end of the day, I know my work has helped and will continue to help people. I’m not afraid of future employers reading this at all. If they are hesitant to hire someone who is knowledgeable and open about mental health and personal experiences then I would seriously question if I wanted to work for them. The only way for change to come about is if we are not scared to approach the conversation. I’m not. It’s disappointing that you would attack me so strongly for speaking my truth, but I wish you the best.

      • YOU WERE NOT MENTALLY ILL. I know people who suffered from actual depression and you are not anywhere near comparable. Yes there are different forms of it but you are just like every other college student who has to juggle being sick and taking difficult classes! If anything you are just mentally weak. Getting stressed out and sick while in college does not define you as depressed. You just have a much lower threshold when dealing with difficult situations. Having low self esteem doesn’t necessarily mean you’re depressed either. I’m sure you enjoy being that “once depressed” girl because you think people will think highly of you for getting through it but really many people just see this as a plea for attention. You just HAVE to let people know your “struggles” any chance you get. And you’re lying to yourself if you’re saying it’s because you want to help others. You just wanna be known and have people talk about you. Plain and simple. You are most likely irrational too judging by your reliance on your emotions to guide you. I bet you’re that girl who drives by a car accident and thinks, “omg that could’ve been me!!” Well no shit Sherlock. It could’ve been anyone. And congratulations on the 2 people who you’ve inspired from this unnecessarily long and ridiculous piece of junk! You’re such a life saver! And a journalist?? Wow!
        Wake up. This pity people feel for you will always follow you and you’ll always be that girl who only thought she was depressed and wrote sad attempt at a memoir about it. Being melodramatic will not get you anywhere after college. And your future employers will look for solidarity, professionalism, and journalistic qualities. You are merely a culmination of over sensitivity, poor judgment, and extreme naivety. Something tells me no one will want to work with someone who cries over everything that doesn’t go her way. Best of luck to you when, god forbid, you get a C in a class AND have the flu. Oh no!

  5. When I was told about this blog I did my best to remain unbiased, but after I finished reading this, it left such a bitter taste in my mouth that I had to share my thoughts (and I’m not the type to even leave comments like this). I hate to say it but I agree with the comments above…Getting mono is super shitty especially in college, but that doesn’t mean you were depressed. You are so hyper sensitive, that any time something bad happens to you, you cry and only FEEL depressed. That doesn’t mean you ARE depressed. Also, if you had mono, why the hell would you decide to go out, sacrifice the much needed sleep, and drink while on antibiotics? Are you kidding me? Real smart. Let’s go ahead and give everyone else mono too and deprive my body of sleep so I can lower my chances of recovery. Do you not understand how treatment for mono works? The night you woke up with your head pounding and throat hurting was the mono affecting your body, NOT depression. I honestly don’t think you know the difference between feeling sick and actually being depressed. You felt shitty. I get it. That’s what mono does. That does not mean you were depressed.
    And the whole, ANNOYING explanation about you withdrawing from a class is (and I mean this in the most sincere way) STUPID. You are nothing but a procrastinator who didn’t get her shit together and panicked. I would be freaking out too if I hadn’t even touched a project by week 7! Also, you cried your way out of it, which is the lowest anyone can get in terms of getting something they want. Then you procrastinated again, and dealt with the same fears of failing because….YOU PROCRASTINATED. It doesn’t take a counselor to figure out your situation. You were lazy and ignorant. You also made some really poor judgement calls, which led to your huge immune response to mono. Nothing more (ESPECIALLY not depression). Depression is a real issue that needs to be addressed but I found this piece to be incredibly insulting to those who are actually doing important work to help combat the stigma and treat depression.

  6. First of all, I want to say that it is admirable for the author to put the personal struggles and thoughts out in the open to be observed in the public eye. There are those who will praise your work and critique it based on each one’s personal reception. I think that many of the previous comments made had bias undertone along with unnecessary cruel remarks attacking the authors integrity. Everything that the author felt was true and very real relative to her circumstances. I actually question the integrity of various critiques which lack the knowledge to realize that antibiotics DO NOT EXIST FOR VIRAL INFECTIONS. In addition, viral cases can accelerate the development of cancer. So that being said, the inevitable fate of mankind, death, is a byproduct of ALL diseases just at different rates. Even that concept is enough to sprout thoughts of depression which every human can relate to. In my opinion, I can appreciate and relate to the hellish combination of school and health issues testing the core of what brings you joy and what keeps you moving forward. There is a sinister cyclical nature to schooling that can bring out the best or worst in students OF ALL majors. No matter what new inputs are weighing you down, the world will continue to spin with or without your approval. It is a race against time to discover solutions to the challenges our dynamic environment throws at us. I believe that we can all seem to be naive in comparison to struggles across the globe, but that doesn’t make ours illegitamate. The author is appealing to a poputlation of students who are similarly tested and transformed by the sophisticated college culture against the grain. Thank you for sharing.

  7. It took every fiber of my being to not reply to some of the comments above. However, I know doing just that would be fueling the fire and that is not what I want to do. What I do want to do is congratulate Mallory on this blog post and say thank you. Along with myself, I know countless people who have struggled with many of the issues discussed in the post. Your writing this post makes me feel not so alone and I appreciate every word you spoke because I know how hard it must’ve been.

    For some commenters out there, I’d just like to say that I took the same 203 class with the same teacher my first quarter here at Cal Poly and I know I would not of been able to succeed in it if it weren’t for people like Mallory. Mallory shared part of her story the first day of class and encouraged me when I was feeling the exact same things during the quarter. I owe it to her, my teacher, my friends and all my supporters in my life for my success in this class. Think I’m exaggerating about how hard the class is? There were 17 students in my class. 10 of us passed. And of the students who didn’t pass, they all had nearly perfect GPA’s all through high school. This class is known as one of the hardest classes in the journalism department. To compare this class to an engineering class is like comparing apples to oranges. Completely different things that are not comparable on a simple spectrum.

    Also, contrary to some beliefs, mental illness comes in an shapes and sizes, and the stigma behind EACH mental illness is something our society struggles with mightily today. There are many struggles everyone goes through in their lives, but that does NOT mean one is more serious than the other. We all struggle in life. I am not going to feed the ego of someone who will only take me more seriously if they hear about the struggles I have gone through and see how they appear on their “scale” of seriousness. I am just going to say that mentioning something like that shows how naive you must be to the countless illnesses out there that hinder millions of people. To even bring something like that up after reading this blog post seems ridiculous to me.

    I go to school with Mallory, and although we are not close friends, she is someone I have always looked up to. Mallory only speaks words of kindness and she is one of the hardest workers I have ever encountered. I don’t think I’d be alive if I were involved in all that Mallory is involved in at Cal Poly. She isn’t at college to just get good grades. She is, of course, here to learn, but to also follow her passions. Cal Poly’s motto is to “learn by doing,” and Mallory encapsulates that in everything she does.

    To try to not make this comment as long as an individual blog post, I’ll end it there. I just hope when someone gets a little fired up on something in this blog they may disagree with they take the time to think about what they’re saying. Constructive criticism can be fun to give out, but just take a deep breath and think if that comment is relevant or necessary. Please try and, “do unto others as you would have them done unto you.”

  8. Thanks for your post Mallory – You have a good head on your shoulders and took a risk by revealing so much of your private life. I shared your post with my daughter who is about to begin the same Journalism class so if it helps her avoid the same pitfalls, you have succeeded in helping at least one of your fellow students. Don’t let the haters get you down; people are incredibly rude and bold when hidden by the cloak of anonymity. Keep doing what you’re doing!

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