My 2019 academic career is quite the redemption story. January through May was a rough winter semester where I ended up failing a class, dropping a class and withdrawing from a class. Needless to say, my satisfactory academic progress (SAP) went to (insert my last name here). But, getting to that point made me realize that I couldn’t do it alone. While your life path may not look similar to mine, whether due to a circumstance or a truly difficult course load, this is how I was able to get back on track.
I came to the realization that I was using up all my strength to muster through my mental health. In these types of situations, sometimes professional insight and help are necessary. My therapist and I have been able to work through so many issues, to the point where I feel so relieved to have that weekly appointment. They say that the hardest point of going to a therapist is starting and I can absolutely confirm this, but it gets better from there as you are willing to admit you need help. NSU offers Henderson counseling sessions for free in both the University Park Plaza (UPP) and in the Rosenthal Student Center. Henderson also offers psychiatric services at a discounted or free rate.
Sometimes, therapy is not enough. My best treatment plan is a mixture of therapy, meditation and medication. The thought of taking medication originally scared me so much that I delayed taking any for one whole month, but taking a small dose has helped give me a boost of serotonin that I never knew could be possible. It’s definitely a part of the reason why I am in a better situation now. As always, please consult with a doctor or psychiatrist before taking or stopping any antidepressants or antianxiety medication.
If you’re going through something that has a diagnosis, consult Student Disability Services (in the Rosenthal Student Center) for academic accommodations and come up with a plan that will help you succeed. By providing documentation for a chronic issue, it will help to make sure that you have a cushion for those times where a situation spontaneously causes you to miss assignments or projects. This can also be a great intermediary to keeping your privacy as they will tell your professors they must honor keeping a dialogue with you about accommodations.
For me, there have been times where I outright told professors about my diagnoses or hinted at them and have faced judgment. Prior to my time at NSU, I was in college for my associate degree. In that time, I had professors who handed my accommodation letter to other students to justify why they could not sit in a certain seat. Other scenarios were harsh stares, like a blank “I do not care” or “you just shared way too much information.” Regardless, I have had a slew of professors who judge my situation or still tell me “to just get the work done.” Professors are human too and, as sad as it is, are not required to be empathetic. The conversations you have with professors should only revolve around discussing expectations for the course. Let Disability Services fight your battles.
Besides needing to seek out help, I was extremely disorganized. Sometimes planners can get very restrictive in terms of layout and design. My saving grace this past semester was using a bullet journal. I know it’s a super trendy thing to do, but that wasn’t my motivation. After watching the Ted Talk with Ryder Carroll, who developed the process to help organize his ADHD mind, it redefined the process for me. It’s not about aesthetic doodles, it’s about minimal efficiency to just help sort through the mental clutter. For me, I just use a thick notebook from Marshall’s that was $5, highlighters and pens — nothing fancy.
While I can’t guarantee that this process will cure you and your scholastic woes, I can tell you that in the Fall 2019 semester, I earned an A and in the rest of my courses, B’s. My productivity level and inner sense of success rose. Not to mention, I feel happy in that cozy, contented way that I’ve longed for years to feel. There is no shame in reaching out and getting help, and I am so glad that I did.
To contact Henderson Counseling Services, call (954)-424-6911
To contact Student Disability Services, call (954)-262-7185
Photo: I. Olmo