I talk honestly and openly about my experiences with mental illness, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndrome through the lens of feminism, fat acceptance and process theology. I also do recipe and book reviews. My mission is to spread the message that hope is always real for a better life, despite living in a world that is often very harsh.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Day 14 - My Dream Day

My Dream Day. Describe your ideal day. How would you spend your time? Who would you spend it with? Have you had this day? If not – how could you make it happen? 

My "dream day" has actually already happened!  It happened in 2006 when I graduated from Georgia State University with a B.A. in English and music.  Getting to the point of graduation was perhaps the hardest thing I have ever done and I used graduation as my motivation to keep striving for recovery for many years.  I was hospitalized three times and took a break from school for eight months while I attended SkyLand Trail, a mental health treatment center, all the while still holding onto my dream of graduating from college.  The stress from school triggered hallucinations, including the one where I was afraid of a shadowy figure upstairs who was carrying an ax.  The stress also triggered a restrictive eating disorder, but still I kept on pursuing a healthier lifestyle and a college degree, knowing that both would lead to a better and brighter future. 

After I graduated from GSU, I immediately moved down to Milledgeville to try to get another degree, this time in music therapy.  I completed two years of school and got an award for best second year music therapy student that I am still very proud of.  Unfortunately, all the years of stress finally got to me and after relapsing into my eating disorder and depression in Milledgeville, I was just never able to keep myself together enough to complete the schooling.  I might have been able to if there were adequate mental health resources in middle Georgia, but despite being home to the largest state mental hospital in the Southeast, there were hardly any good resources nearby.  I wanted to do music therapy, because I am good at it.  I have a passion for helping people by using music, especially elderly folks.  I switched my degree from music to English the first time round, because I went through a period where I became too depressed to sing or play piano.  Also, I have severe anxiety and this anxiety often makes me afraid to sing without my music.  In Milledgeville I did wonderfully in all of my music therapy classes, but I struggled in my regular music classes.  They wouldn't allow considerations for my anxiety to be made, saying that it would be unfair to give me special treatment.  It would have been more than fair though, because none of the other students had my kind of extreme anxiety.

I still want a degree in music therapy.   While it does benefit me to have a degree, the English degree didn't exactly prepare me for the kind of job that I want.  I am good, really good, at helping people with music.  Better yet, when I am in the role of a music therapist, I am practically devoid of anxiety-I am doing what I love and am loving every second of it.  My dream day would be to have a repeat of that day in 2006-to graduate from a college with a degree in music therapy this time.  Maybe I am being greedy by asking for two of the same type of dream days to happen.  I do know that if I ever deem myself stable enough to return to school that I will do a much more thorough job in researching the mental health community near the school.  I would also make sure that disabilities department would be much more willing to work with me and to provide me the kinds of accomodations that I need.  I think it's sad that so many schools do not have adequate mental health resources.  I honestly believe that most schools do not want students with severe mental health illnesses attending their school.  We simply cost too much.  We're way too much trouble.  And we certainly don't present a nice image for the school.

I honestly don't know whether to give up on this dream or not.  I know that the idea of school is very overwhelming and that my next step in my quest for independence is to pursue disability.  I do have a volunteer job where I lead a sing-along at a nursing home and I love doing it.  But I cannot help thinking that I have more to offer.  I am not a patient person, but I know that for right now, I need to wait.  It's so frustrating and the poem "A Dream Deferred" by Langston Hughes comes to mind.


What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?
It is my hope that if this dream does not come true that something else will take its place-something that is more wonderful and fulfilling than I could have imagined.

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