Back in July I was enthusiastic about making the switch from part-time to full-time study. I was feeling impatient and wanting to get back into the workforce. Unfortunately, I overestimated my energy levels and capacities. Not to mention a dash of denial about the effect my mental health has on my motivation, concentration, and physical energy. I thought “I’m getting Distinctions and High Distinctions, my depression and PTSD isn’t hurting my study“. And, when I was taking 2 subjects, the stress level was manageable.
I think I was trying to prove to myself and the world that my mental illness isn’t going to stop me—and it wont. I didn’t write about it here, mostly because I’ve not had a chance to even look at this blog lately, but I had a recent relapse with my depressive symptoms. So, on top of full-time study, looking after 2 kids and house, and supporting my husband with his job I was also trying to get on top of a depressive episode. My therapy appointments were moved up from monthly to weekly. I was trying increases in medications and new medications all while coping with the depressive symptoms.
Last night, I finished writing my assignment at 11.40pm, 15 minutes before the submission deadline. Both nerdlings kept waking so I had to balance the laptop on my knees as they used my tummy as a pillow. I’m also falling behind in my weekly lecture and practical work. I just don’t have the time in my 3 days to get all the work completed. If my nerdlings let me study when they are home or during the evening, perhaps I could handle the extra study.
I am not disappointed in myself. I knew this was a trial to see how well I faired with full-time study. Even before I had children, I found 3-4 subjects overwhelming, probably due to my perfectionist tendencies when it comes to academia. I love to learn and develop a deep understanding of what is being taught. I’m that student that does the optional readings and takes detailed notes in lectures. But the trade off is that it’s time and energy consuming.
I love my degree and I enjoy each of my subjects—some more than others (not a fan of the business focused ones as much). And, I don’t feel like I could scale down the level of commitment I have to each subject. So, I have taken a deep breath and decided to drop one of my subjects this semester. It’s only been this past week that I’ve felt the full extent of just how overwhelmed I am with my study load.
I decided to drop Algorithms and Data Structures as it isn’t a prerequisite subject for other courses, whereas my other two are. I missed the census date so I’ll have to apply for a waiver on medical grounds but I know I have my doctor’s full support.
With less stress, I should be able to enjoy the subject matter again and have more energy to focus on getting back on top of my depression. I’m glad I tried it to see if it was viable. And, I am glad I was able to recognise that with everything else in my life, full-time study isn’t really an option. There are many paths to a rewarding career, I just need to slow down and enjoy the ride (and accept that it’s going to take a little longer…and that’s ok!)
How are my fellow students going with their study load? Feeling on top of things or a bit overwhelmed too?
n.b. Most universities have a student services department and often one for people like me studying with a disability. They are wonderful and can help you make get the most out of your university experience, and help minimise things holding you back. At USQ, you can contact your SRO via the student centre or click on their website to find out more info. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I have a few times now and it’s been a very encouraging and supportive response. :D