You! Stop It RIGHT NOW: ADHD meds and Psychosis

Alright, everyone STOP.

I found something to rag on already? Damn, it must be a divine plan for me to come back to this blog.

I need to stop this shit before it gets out of hand. I can’t even get through ten posts on my reader on WordPress without seeing: “ADHD medication may increase the risk of psychosis”. And I can’t read one fucking article related to that without getting this bullshit statistic of “rates of ADHD have increased by *enter bullshit number* within the last year”.

Let’s tackle this one stupid point at a time.

First of all, let’s review: The ADHD medications which are being talked about are stimulants. They are not, and let me repeat this, THEY ARE NOT CLEARED FOR NOR RESEARCHED FOR CHILDREN CONSUMPTION, and yet they are given to toddlers, pre-teens, teenagers, and people under 25. What do all those age brackets have in common? Their brains are still developing.

Some idiot doctor is quoted in this article saying “We compared amphetamines [Adderall and Vyvanse] to people who were prescribed methylphenidates [Ritalin and Concerta]. We found that the Adderall type drugs had an increased risk of psychosis”.

Wow, you guys! Really? Is that what you found? And did something similar happen when you asked people to mainline some meth? Bump some cocaine twice a day? And moreover, did you ask a thirteen year old to do it?

Someone please just take a bat to my fucking head so I don’t have to read this nonsense anymore. No one should be surprised that a type of amphetamine that has a very similar chemical structure to illegal amphetamines is causing something illegal amphetamines cause in otherwise healthy people quite fucking often.

If anything they need to take this opportunity to learn from this. They already fucked up multitudes of people’s lives. So do us all a favor. Do something you should have been doing from the beginning. Scan the brains of your patients before you put them on this shitty medication and scan their brains afterwards, when they decent into brutal, prescription induced psychosis, and publish the results. And tell us exactly what these psychiatric medications are changing in our brains.

But you won’t do that. That would harm your fucking business.

Now, obviously, not everyone experiences this side-effect. Don’t get fooled–that does not mean the structure of your brain doesn’t change. Let me share an article I posted on my job’s facebook page. And let’s really, really talk about this.

This article here is posted on Mad In America. It’s essentially an interview with a man who was on psychiatric medication, anti-depressants, and has his doctorate now, in medicine, and doing research on behalf of medication withdrawal. It was found in some studies that as much as 1/40th of a general starting dose of an antidepressant immediately effects every serotonin synapse, 70% of which are in your gut.

So let’s think about that. I was started out on 10mg on my antidepressant back in the day. 1/40th of that is .25. .25mg of that antidepressant would have had an immediate effect on me. Would I feel it? Probably not. But your body and your cells and your synapses would. And over time, eventually you would too.

Adderall is an amphetamine and therefore directly effects serotonin levels. The recommended starting dose of Adderall for adults is 30mg. Not quite sure how they came up with starting dose for anyone other than adults considering it’s never been researched on children.

.75mg of Adderall will have an immediate effect on your system. Think about that.

We have absolutely ZERO clue as to what any of these psychotropic medications do to our brains. That’s not me hating on the system, that, my friends, is simply a fact. The research is biased, often perpetrated by bribed researchers, and the media is so inept at reporting truth half of what the studies actually say are never reported. Don’t believe me? If you’re in college, take your university library card, get on the database, and go read some real journals. Trust me, if you understand statistics a lot of these studies will ultimately disappoint you.

On a child, on an underdeveloped brain, even half of 30mg is going to have a lasting effect on them.

This idea that ADHD is rising is also bullshit. Why? Firstly, doctors get paid to prescribe these medications. They get little kick backs from pharmaceutical companies. So, if you come in with your child who has a few tantrums a day and has trouble sitting in school, that doctor isn’t going to ask you what the nature of the classroom is or the nature of the household (i.e, whether or not the child is being stimulated in school, whether or not there’s enough physical activity, whether or not the child’s diet is overdosed with sugar, whether or not the child is glued to electronic devices, whether or not your parenting just sucks ass).

What this is doing is invalidating the people who really do have deficits in their attention. You could go in a doctor’s office and say you’re having trouble focusing and walk out with a fucking Adderall prescription.

Recesses are being taken out of schools or the time outside is being shortened. You think that’s not going to affect a child? Even though I was silent throughout my school years, when it was raining and we weren’t allowed to go outside I got fucking restless. Why? Because I was a fucking kid. That’s why.

I feel bad for the children who really can’t focus, who literally spend every day and every night fighting their brains, trying to finish a paragraph in a book they’re assigned to read. While their classmates talk out of turn one time and are suddenly given a prescription.

Then everyone wonders why, when that child turns 13, she has a psychotic break.

For example, I have attention problems. I start things and I don’t finish them. I space out when people are talking and then randomly blurt something. I’m either very interested in one thing, or interested in nothing. But I function like every other person. I love school, and learning, and my attention issues have never been a problem for me, even as a child. I didn’t grow up with the t.v on every second, with a smart phone in my hand, eating freaking Frosted Flakes with extra sugar. Whenever a psychiatrist asks me if I have attention problems I always say no because I’m not going get punched with a label I don’t need when there are people out there who literally have breakdowns because they can’t focus.

Everyone STOP this MASS HYSTERIA. And think CRITICALLY. Please don’t believe everything you read–including me. Go research for yourself.

And stop trying to find quick fixes for every little hiccup in your life. Because quick fixes don’t exist.

How Sick Are You, Pt 2

Another long stretch since I’ve written. I spent some days adjusting to medication, some days hating myself for taking medication, and other days deciding to come off of medication.

Experiment number 2984719374:

Hypothesis: I will have a burst of energy and feel-good neurotransmitters flooding the gates of my synaptic terminals, followed by an immediate and harrowing decline which will, therefore, push me inevitably towards reuniting with the medication I so despise.

Methods: I will stop both the Abilify and Trintellix and monitor my moods and/or whatever aspects of psychosis that may rear its ugly head.

Results: TBD

Discussion: TBD.

Now that we have that settled, let’s talk a bit about mental health and awareness. There are so many great people out there doing great advocacy online and in person. There are so many great Non-Profit organizations doing the same. There are even clubs dedicated to such a thing at my college campus. And yet, there are still people wary and ashamed of their mental health. Let me give an example of how this thought process is still prevalent.

Today, while sitting in my Cognitive Psychology class, we were going over, for the umpteenth time in my life, neurotransmission, synaptic terminals, receptors, antagonists and agonists, Dopamine, Gaba, Norepinephrine, and Serotonin, some of the main receptors you learn in an introduction class. It follows that we should then speak about the dis-regulation of some of those neurotransmitters, and discuss the THEORY of chemical imbalances: regarding primarily dopamine and schizophrenia, serotonin and anxiety/depression.

Again, the idea of a chemical imbalance is a (repeat after me kids):

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which means it can never be proven, only dis-proven.

Anyway, that brought up the topic of SSRI’s, their side effects, and their withdrawal symptoms.

One young woman, who was probably younger than I am, raised her hand and said this:

“I was wondering about the withdrawal symptoms, because I take an SSRI, and I noticed that–well, I don’t have depression, it’s for some nerve problems–but I noticed that when I didn’t take it even for just a couple days, I was sleeping a lot, I couldn’t focus in this class . . .” and yada yada yada, personal life bullshit.

But what struck me is that she immediately discounted the experience of depression. She wouldn’t want her classmates thinking she’s “mentally ill” now would she?

And this is why I advocate for changing the culture around this term “mentally ill”. Because people are ashamed of that, of “being ill”. But what if we weren’t “ill”? What if we were perfectly well humans with a variation of neurons (a very, very, very large variation of neurons) that just so happened to result in different experiences? What if believing we are “ill” is keeping us, well, “ill-er”?

What if the perception of those experiences changed from unpleasant to being perceived as unique, variable, malleable, valuable, curious, and wonderful?

That’s not to say the struggle isn’t hard, because it’s very hard. But the harder we believe it is, the harder it will get.

Now, this could all be the feel-good neurotransmitters talking, because I started my little experiment about two weeks ago, and that is about the amount of time it takes for this poison to slowly remove itself from my body. Although, if you know anything about half-lifes, it never really goes away.

But whether or not this is me being euphoric and grandiose, I think we need to expand the discussion around neurotransmitters, and inform the public of just how wrong it is to think that the pathway of ONE SINGLE neurotransmitter leads to something as complex as what we call schizophrenia or what we call anxiety, Bipolar, Depression, any of it.

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You’ll read in a lot of studies released to the public–or at least glorified in the media–that they’ve found another link of dopamine to this, another one of serotonin to that, and it’s just not feasible that with 30-100 different molecule versions of neurotransmitters (granted there are a few that do a lot of the work) and 100 Trillion estimated neural connections plus constant variation of cell death/growth, neural connection death/growth, as well as environmental and genetic influences that dictate those neural connection and sell growths and deaths, that ONE neurotransmitter is going to be responsible for making or breaking our mental health.

Now, we can say that they are correlated. We can say we see increased dopamine in people who experience what we label as schizophrenia. But you cannot, and I repeat, CANNOT use that as CAUSATION.

Fuck I can’t stress it ENOUGH.

Psychology 101 folks: CORRELATION IS NOT CAUSATION. 

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Dopamine may be high during what we call psychosis, but that does not mean that the high dopamine CAUSED the psychosis, or that the psychosis CAUSED the high dopamine. We haven’t learned what “causes” mental health struggles yet, that’s why chemical imbalance is a THEORY.

See how much you’ve learned already today.

And that’s what happens in a lot of these articles that are debriefed by media or science magazines online with writers who don’t know a single thing about psychology. They get hung up on correlations.

It’s also a result of research publications being manipulated to suit the needs of pharmaceutical companies.

It’s a fact that if you give someone a drug that decreases dopamine, you’ll likely see a decrease in what we call psychosis. You’ll see a decrease in a lot of other things too, and those are what we cal side-effects. But are those drugs really doing anything to the thing we call psychosis, or is it just blunting some aspects of the self? Because often “psychotic symptoms” continue during the usage of said drug.

These are all questions I can’t answer, and neither can the magazines that publish articles on published research. It’s important to read these things carefully and really take a moment to look inside of yourself and ask yourself if you want to consider yourself broken, sick, ill, and helpless.

And that’s today’s Mental Truth.

 

The Water Comes From A Well

This title is the excerpt I read while searching for a new place to live. What is this, the 1800’s? Do you know how dry it is in California, people? Just buy some water from the damn grocery store because you ain’t finna find any in the ground, not this time of year.

I’m being forced to look into a roommate situation, which is not ideal, but I suppose it is better than homelessness–at least, that’s what my psychologist is trying to drill into my head: it’s better than being homeless, it’s better than being homeless. I’m not sure I’m convinced. I’ve been homeless before, jumped around from place to place, and at least in all those situations I had some kind of privacy. Someone living in my living room in this apartment does not seem private to me.

The emotions of the break up have kind of calmed within me, I no longer drive in the car crying to songs on the radio, and I no longer huddle in the apartment with a blanket over my shoulders looking at all the things I did wrong and all the things that were my fault. Ultimately, things ended because things needed to end. I’ve had a lot of things I’ve loved end in my life, and I’m still standing. I’ve been through a lot worse than a breakup, and I’m still standing. I can make it through this.

independence-1024x673-1024x673It’s time to gain some independence back too. I think I was pretty dependent in this relationship and that’s something I need to let go of as well. I think this will give me the proper time I need to really recover from the psychosis and get my mental health back on track.

Where I will move, I’m not sure yet, either north or south of where I am now. I have plans to move on with my life at this point. Because, here’s the even bigger news: the mental health program I’ve been working at for the past 2 years may very well be closing in the beginning of December. We’re making efforts to save it, and I think good things will still come from these efforts, but I’m not sure about them actually saving the program.

So, I am also stuck looking at the possibility of having to find another job in the “real world”. The real world meaning: working with people who are not my peers, who do not openly have lived experience. And that bothers me a bit. I tend not to get along with those people.

Classes have also started up again, and I’m swamped with homework. Go figure.

So life is pretty stressful right now. I’m broke, I can’t pay for my prescriptions, I can’t buy food, I can’t afford gas, and it’s hell waiting for Netflix to put up Black Panther. I mean, the wait is literally like sitting on a stump in hell listening to the screams of damned souls while embers lick the top of your head and fire burns through your skin to your bone.

I am writing an article about the closing of 2nd Story, so stay tuned for that on Mad in America. Not quite sure what I want to write yet. I said I’d have a draft by the end of the week, but with classes I’m not sure if that’s going to be possible.

My cat is sitting on my arm and making it very difficult to type. She’s going to give me Carpal Tunnel.

If you are willing to share a GoFundMe page on your Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, that would also be great. The link is here. I know clicking the share button is honestly asking a lot of people I don’t know, but I’ve been apart of this wordpress community for 3 years and I’ve loved every moment of it. You all are helpful in small little ways you might not even know. Every comment I’ve ever gotten, every view, every read, every personal story shared with me is another thing I cherish. So one share is all I ask. I’m asking for 1500 in the Campaign, just as general moving expenses because I have zero dollars. I would be using it to pay for a UHaul and to tow my car if I move out of town. I”m not asking for much, but I am.

If you can share the GoFundMe link that would be great. If you can read it, that would be great. I don’t want to end up homeless again, and I think crowdfunding is an amazing opportunity for a lot of people, including myself. If you can donate even a dollar, I would be eternally grateful.

In the meantime, I’m going to be looking for a place to live so I don’t end up on the streets.

Fun!

Loss

Eleven years old was the first time I wanted to kill myself.

I remember the day pretty well. We were living with a family in their house behind Burger King. We’d been there maybe a few weeks, and had a room to ourselves–my mother, father, and me. It was better than where we were a few weeks before, which was some hotels and a tent. The woman who owned–or rented, I’m not sure which–the house worked as a worker at an animal shelter and liked adopting and fostering different kinds of animals. At one point there was at least four+ dogs in the house, one of them as large as a medium sized bear. The PitBull puppy they brought home they named DeBo (think about the movie Friday) was six months old and he helped me overcome my fear of dogs. I’ve loved Pitbulls every since. They are a bunch of sweeties.

But the day I wanted to kill myself DeBo wasn’t there. I was with a small white kitten who loved me. I can’t remember what they’d named him. But he curled up next to me on a bench they had shoved underneath a tree in the front yard. I was listening to fucking Chamillionaire’s “Rain”, writing, and crying. I remember the words coming into my head: I should kill myself. What did I have? I didn’t have a home, I’d lost all my stuff (what we couldn’t fit in a small storage unit, we had to toss in the dump, including my bed), I didn’t have friends at that point, my father was drinking a lot, and my mother worked all the time. I didn’t see prospects of the future, and I certainly couldn’t see me sitting here at 23 writing about this.

I remember feeling hopeless, feeling worthless, feeling confused, and listening to a depressing song really wasn’t helping. I don’t remember what I did the rest of that day, a lot of crying, a lot of writing, a lot of music. It’s like the moment is just a snapshot in time.

This was before the woman’s daughters and her friends slashed the tires of our car and put a sign on our door that said they didn’t want us there. Because we really wanted to be there, with her mother drinking a bottle of Jack Daniels and taking pills and threatening to kill herself every weekend. Yeah, great environment, I really, really wanted to stay there.

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Anyway, we lost that car to their ignorance.

I think I’m thinking about these things because my therapist called our conversation out on being too logical. I don’t speak with a lot of emotion often, or include a lot of emotion when I talk about things that have happened to me, or things I have done, or pain I’ve been through. I think it’s a coping mechanism I learned over the years that needs to be broken. But it’s interesting to feel as I write this the same sense of loss I felt as a child. It’s weird for it still to linger and still to be so ingrained. It feels like I’m eleven again, sitting on that bench with that cat. It feels like I just learned they slashed our tires and one more thing that I loved dearly (it was a 1972 Ranchero) was being left behind and therefore taken away from me. Something I’ll never get back. It sounds silly, but I didn’t think three years of running around living from place to place could have this much of an impact on me as an adult ten years later. That’s trauma, I guess.

I suppose this is why I don’t think about things emotionally, or talk about them emotionally, I can never handle the emotions that surface. I’m trying to stay present to finish this post, but the tears are heavy and the dissociation is real. Emotional flashbacks, I’ve learned these are called.

I guess the conversation yesterday that I overhead about people’s depression and when it started got me thinking about my own depression. It’s interesting that these feelings mimic those feelings of loss I had when I started getting paranoid and lost all my academic abilities. There’s been a lot of loss in my life, over and over again, as I’m sure it is in many people’s lives, and I’m curious how other people deal with it in a healthy way. I’m not sure I know how. I don’t think I ever learned.

When did your depression start? How have you dealt with it? How do you deal with loss? Those are questions I wonder about you, reader.

And that’s today’s mental truth: loss is a bitch.

College: To be Or Not To Be?

o-dinner-with-kids-facebookAge 1-4: Develop as a mini human being. Make messes, be silly, discover how disgusting healthy fruit and/or vegetables are and how delicious candy that looks like fruit and/or vegetables are. Generally allowed to make bathroom mistakes without being whipped with a belt across the back.

Age 5-10: Introduction to education (and the system). Learn (or don’t learn) how to communicate with peers. Get labeled weird if you don’t. Get labeled annoying and inattentive if you do. Learn you are what label you’ve been given. Live up to label. Beg your parents for a cell phone because “everyone else has one!”.

Age 10-15: Get bricked in the face by puberty. Live up to the label you were given or prepare to be ostracized. Think about what you might be interested in as a job. Perhaps get a job if you have THOSE kind of parents. Convince yourself your popularity and status in 498ddf446ef98b77b1492eadc8100e1818ab60ecf7da47b86a152d6cf5476c45_1.jpghigh school is, like, the only thing that’s really important because, like, isn’t life about networking? Get excited about a driver’s permit. Get excited about driving. Realize you need money and a job to own a car. Rock in the corner for hours after realizing you can’t be both lazy and rich until you’re actually rich.

Age 16-19:  Fuck labels. Stupid conformists! See working a job as another way to kiss the ass of The Man, see NOT working as a middle finger to The System. Identity makes attempts at stabilization, and fails many, many times. Worry you have every listed disorder in the DSM because you’ve just never been able to do this, or that, or this and that and it’s all in the news that parasites from cats cause this thing called Schizophrenia and your mom has two cats who used to lick your face when you were a baby. Apply to colleges. Start college. Immediately, and simultaneously, like it and hate it. Smile because you might be on a good path now.

Age 20-onward: Find an awkward, unbalanced point between “fuck the system” and “submit to the system”.  Smile because you realize your path is way more unpredictable than you intended.

I’m in the latter category. The category of internal and external exploration and a heaping pile of “OhShitOhShitOhShit”. That’s how I would describe my personal experience with being in the twenty-something category.

For those who are unaware, I lost my mind for a good two weeks, and I am grounded once more . . . at least, more than before. Within this time frame I’ve spent at least 500 dollar or more on things I’m surprised to find in the mail, I wrapped packing tape around certain limbs of my body for a couple nights to keep away the cold that the demons were causing, I got a few pages of unintelligible rambles, and I’ve probably gained a couple pounds eating way too much chocolate. I have a feeling much of this had to do with the worse peak of the withdrawal from Effexor. I have been this way before, but usually from anxiety, stress, being overwhelmed, over stimulated, not sleeping enough, e.t.c.

3c0fe46571bcdfd94dcac8b26d757caaI spun into a hole of wishing sweet Miss Murder would swoop from her perch on the tree of Freedom and take me to a new Kingdom away from this earth, then bounced into a world of sweet treats and happiness and ideas and the realization that the entity which follows me was the cause of my sudden depression. That spun me into a whole other world of psychedelic colors and Cheshire cats and voices laughing at me because I couldn’t get to sleep. One of the bitches mocked me for four hours because “she can’t sleep–look at her, she can’t sleep“.

Straight out of her mouth. Hoe. If she were a physical being, I’d knock her out cold with a “left, right, right, left, she’s toothless”.

I finally got up a bit of courage to explain some of my mindset to a real human being in a live conversation over the phone (i.e, my wonderful boyfriend), and let off all of that pressure, things subsided a bit–enough to where I could at least sleep at 4:55 a.m instead of 6 a.m.

That helped. A lot. And I got a bit disappointed when I woke up the next morning realizing one of my largest struggles is that I don’t reach out. Then I realized I don’t reach out not necessarily because of anxiety, but because I don’t know how. I really don’t.

It’s a skill you have to learn, almost, and mostly from your family environment. You learn you can trust your parents or cousins or whoever so that whenever you have a problem, you can go to them and they won’t tell you “suck it up” or “that’s just the way it is” or “you’ll grow out of it”, e.t.c , e.t.c–invalidation, that’s called.

Well, invalidation is all I know. This may just be the root of my distrust, and why I’m so off-put sometimes by kindness. It might be why I’m so prone to paranoia about being mistreated, about being watched, about being followed. It might be that my brain turns my feeling invalidated into a feeling of otherworldliness, of being constantly mocked both in this world and in a spiritual world.

I’ve noticed that with a lot of families, particularly ethnic or mixed families, that “problems” are not always seen as struggles to be overcome or understood, but weaknesses to get over or to hide or to, at the very least, never speak of again. That’s how I grew up.

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And that’s the direction I want to take my program. Because of whatever factors are in my family’s past, I was never taught or encouraged to reach out, other than “if someone offers a drug and you wanna do it, bring it home first”. Because I’ve never reached out, I’ve never known about resources.

As I mentioned in my last post, there’s this weird middle ground in mental health categorization between “moderate” and “severe”. Those who are “moderate” often seek a therapist and try coping methods. Those who are “severe” often learn of resources through inpatient (and most often involuntary) hospitalization. So . . . where are the rest of us?

The rest of us are where I am. The rest of us are all different ages. We struggle reaching out, we struggle knowing about resources and therefore are the most silent group of mental health consumers. We’re the ones most abundant in online support groups. This isn’t a matter of knowing they existed and not going because of anxiety–this is a matter of actually NOT knowing.

The anxiety can come later, when we find out resources exist.

This is a matter of not knowing where to start, how to start, or what to expect. And that is what I’m developing this program for, geared towards those of us with ethnic, cultural, or family issues interfering with our ability to take care of our mental health. Because, within the last 24 hours, I have found over ten resources I could have been taking advantage of, had I known they existed–excluding the peer respite house I work at now. The peer respite I learned about through chance too–a fucking post on some obscure job website that got recommended to me in email.

And sometimes it’s not as simple as googling “support groups” or whatever. Because those of us in this category don’t know how to reach out, it’s not always anxiety that keeps us from these things, it’s the prospect of having to make a connection and being unable to know what that even means. Those of us in this category sometimes need a little extra support.

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I’m developing a type of outreach program that supports people in finding resources who perhaps are new to this “mental health” thing, or new to a hospital (which would have been nice when I went there). A type of outreach program geared towards–but not solely focused on–ethnic groups. A type of outreach that offers not just a relay system of “here’s a resource, go here”, but also a peer approach that recognizes “wow, you’ve been through a lot, tell me a bit about it”. That strikes up conversation, eases anxiety and builds connection–and then resources. A type of outreach program that keeps in touch with people, that is a consistent support, not a brief one. A type of outreach program that works with those same individuals with finding volunteer opportunities, vocational opportunities (or, at the very least, a place to go to find vocational opportunities) and other community opportunities. A type of outreach that doesn’t just reach out to the “mentally ill” (ugggg, I shudder whenever I type that now), but also to the rest of the community, that builds relationships with other programs and schools and hospitals. A type of outreach program that reaches just a little farther than most. 

To accomplish this, I’m having to overcome many things as well–like my fear of reaching out. I’ve found so many support groups and peer classes to get involved with, even more than I’d known about through my work place. Through the connections I make, I want to be able to develop a solid pitch and perhaps even a small team to present to the fellowship I mentioned before.

I’ve been in college for almost four years now. I came to a startling revelation that one of my main goals toward becoming a psychiatrist was being able to interact with my peers on the “highest” level possible. Being able to interact with people who struggle the worst sometimes–i.e., voices, mood swings, e.t.c, and I knew often those kind of people don’t seek therapy, but psychiatrists. I also thought that was wrong; I wanted to be a combination of a therapist and psychiatrist.

Tonight I realized I’m doing what I’ve always wanted to already and more. I’ve been doing it for 8 fucking months and it’s taken me this long to realize it. It’s taken me almost four years of college to realize I don’t need college. That’s the reason I’ve been so unmotivated and depressed this semester: I’m not doing what I need or wish to. I’ve been frustrated because I can’t “be a successful student” like the other students.

Because I’m not like the other students.

How To Survive College

There are tons of articles on the internet giving you lists of endless strategies to survive the seemingly endless hell of college group projects, surveys, lectures, and anti-abortion rally meth heads who camp out in the quad with their six foot tall posters of aborted fetuses, enticing women and men alike to screech pro-choice ideals at the top of their lungs.

Everything those lists have told you is a lie.

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College is a bubbling cauldron of exponential debt. It’s a place you go to enhance your nihilism. If you weren’t already a nihilist, it’s a place where you can easily become one. It’s where you hustle to in the morning with your baggy sweatpants and a cup of coffee so you can walk into class, lean your fist against your cheek, and catch those extra Z’s you wasted this morning trying to find your car keys. It’s where you can major in rigid thinking, overly-liberal thinking, and non-thinking all at once.

It’s where you withdrawal from a course life intervenes on, only to take it once more while simultaneously kicking yourself. It’s where you sit in that course and bang your head repeatedly against the desk until the professor notices out of the corner of his eye, but tentatively ignores it because you have an accommodations contract from the disabled students center.

It’s thought to be a place for thinkers, innovators; the next Steve Jobs, the next Albert Einstein, John Nash, Nikola Tesla . . .

. . . but it’s mostly a place for hippies, kids looking for an excuse not to work full time, people with rich parents, or people with sports scholarships.

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It’s where you could get a perfect score on a paper for memorizing a concept, but only fifty percent for creating your own outside the box.

With that in mind, there is your first tip: Lower your expectations. 

  • This isn’t 387 B.C and college isn’t a Platonic Academy. Plato has nothing to do with it. There’s less “let’s discover the world/the ether/ the mind” and more “we did the discovering for you, now read it, learn it, memorize it”. There’s a small percentage that will take that knowledge and build on it. Most will recite it and manage to feel proud.
  • Most people in college have average intelligence. That’s a good thing. Because if everyone was smart, i’d feel like an idiot.
  • The more you expect, the more disappointed you’ll be when things don’t go your way: like when you realize your major is the epitome of horrid and you want to switch but now you have to go through a bunch of paperwork and university is not fucking happy with you at all.
  • Instead, take everything with a grain of salt. Take charge when you need to. Coast along when you can.

We all know how sickening disappointment can be. So instead of making a list over summer hyping yourself up about all the great things you’re going to do in college, make a list reminding yourself not to do that. That’s stupid. And only smart people go to college, remember?

If you have an incessant need to list, than write this fifty times on four sheets of paper:

No matter how easily I sailed through high school, college will not be the same.

That’s my second tip.

It’s not the work content, it’s the work load. Professors don’t care if you have two part time jobs, a child, and a social life. They don’t get paid enough to care. And if they have tenure than you’re shit out of luck.

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3). Learn your limits and don’t overexert yourself. Think you can take seven courses in a single semester and make it out alive? You know what, go ahead, fuck it, I want to see you do it.

4) When you get a boring professor with an accent you can’t understand, restrain your urge to mock his accent loudly and/or strip off all your clothes and mount the person next to you because they keep sneaking glances down your shirt. Trust me, don’t do it. You’ll regret it. You know how you went to that party the night before your exam, woke up with a headache and puked on your desk in class? You remember that regret? Do you really want to feel that again?

5) It’s okay to not move the same speed as everyone else. If you start struggling and feel like everyone is zipping past you at the speed of intellectual light, that’s okay. Because someone next to them is zipping past them as well. And so on. Everyone moves at different paces and if you’re not perfect, that’s alright. Don’t swallow thirty Ritalin and expect it to turn you into a super human. If anything, get in the Ritalin underground dealing on your campus, especially if you go to Harvard or Yale or any place where people are pressured to be inhumanely perfect. You don’t need your degree to get rich then.

6) If you don’t like it, don’t go. The simplest tip of them all. Not everyone feels like they need to constrain their mind (or their time) to the few options college has to offer. It’s not impossible to be successful without a little piece of paper signed by someone who calls himself/herself a “dean”. I’ve heard of tons of people with doctorates working hours at McDonalds now. College degrees don’t guarantee a good life. No college degree doesn’t guarantee homelessness. It’s all about how you maneuver life to your advantage.

7) Last but not least: if you can find a way not to pay for room and board, TAKE IT. LIVE OFF CAMPUS. Often paying for a dorm is the second most expensive thing you’ll waste your grant/loan/scholarship money on. If you can rent a room in a house or live with family or parents or whoever, do it. Trust.

8) Actually last but not least: if you are taking math, and math is not your greatest subject, I would suggest always doing the homework directly after class. I would also suggest doing some right before you go to sleep. The difference will astound you.

I once struggled on a problem for ten hours. Finally I said fuck it, threw my book across the room, resisted the urge to take a shit on my homework page, and went to sleep. I had a wonderful dream of the problem, how to work it, and the solution. Woke up and, for a second at least, declared myself a genius.

But actually, mathematical dreams are not too unheard of. It happens to many people, especially mathematicians. You might not care whether you know math, but apparently your subconscious does enough to work on it throughout the night.

If all else fails, flip off your campus, walk away, and give your life up to nature. What difference does it all make anyway?

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