Friday, January 27, 2012

School Days

The spring semester is in full swing now. By which I mean my online class has met once, and neither of my Saturday/online hybrid classes have met yet. But they will, and soon! ;)

There's something very comforting to me about school. I've always felt at home in the classroom, at ease with my nose in a book, calm and collected while taking tests and writing papers. In a world of chaos and anxiety, school has always been a safe haven for me.

I was diagnosed with Bipolar II Disorder while I was in my third year of undergrad. At the time, I couldn't fully comprehend the meaning of the diagnosis or the impacts it would have on my life. All I understood was that someone was telling me I was sick, that I'd always be sick, that there was no cure, that I'd have to rely on prescription pills for the rest of my life, and that I could barely get out of bed to go to the classes I so deeply valued. I knew there was a stigma about bipolar disorder; I myself had participated in mocking a dormmate's struggle with the disease. Oh, poetic justice! If only everyone who mocked others for their disabilities would then themselves be struck with the very same maladies, if only so they could learn some compassion and understanding!

Now that I am older and have been living with my diagnosis for several years, things like going to class are much easier. I am capable of doing the things that I want to be doing because I am properly medicated, and I can pay full attention in class and perform well on scholastic endeavors. I am greatly enjoying grad school, both because I am back in the comfort of the classroom, and because the subject matter--special education--is so dear to my heart.

When I go to class, I learn both how to educate future students and how to better care for my own daughter. I study techniques for assisting families of children with disabilities, and, in doing so, learn more about my own family dynamic and how I cope with the daily struggles of raising a child with disabilities. I see how many services my family needs, and I take pride and comfort in knowing I will soon be able to share those services with other families in our situation. It's very rewarding, on several levels.

School is a safe world. It's a world where your teachers' only job is to help you succeed, and your hard work and merit determine how you will be judged. Illness isn't a factor. The fact that you could barely manage a trip to the grocery store doesn't matter. All that matters is what happens inside the safety of that classroom. I realize, of course, that not everyone has a similar outlook on education. For some people, the classroom is the scariest place on earth... For me, however, it's an oasis. It's sacred. I am eternally grateful for the opportunities I have had to pursue my educational goals.

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