Students Surviving Stigma

Hi all, I know it has been a while since I’ve posted again. I’ve just been riding things out. When I got the committee notice I was devastated. I felt certain I was going to get kicked out, this near to the end. But, I proposed a solution: I step back from practicum, don’t see clients, but I get to stay in my other classes. The committee accepted this proposal but added their own stipulations: we meet again in the summer and I can’t take practicum until the Fall. Since all I have left is practicum and internship, that means either taking a break or taking extra electives. I’ve decided to take classes in clinical psych to pass the time, to become more well rounded.

This is their letter (they put words in my mouth and they took things I did say out of context). It is clear to me now that nothing I said would have made any difference, as they were listening for evidence, not listening to hear. Only one of the four professors even looked at the 20 letters I brought indicating that I was already successfully working in the field with clients, that I have been in therapy for over a year, and that I have been making progress.

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I thought this experience was going to break me but then I decided I wasn’t going to let them have that kind of power over me. I know who I am and I don’t have control over whether or not my professors are willing to see me for who I really am. So, I’m just going to be the best version of myself, I’m going to keep striving for success, and we will see what happens.

In the interim, this experience has inspired me to create a group for others who may also be struggling with finding the balance between living with mental illness and fighting the stigma imposed upon us by our schools and society at large. This group is primarily a safe space for students to engage with people who get it but I would love for those who’ve been students, who have graduated already to be a part of the group as well. And for those who would regard themselves as allies to join, too. I think our voices become louder when we come together in community. Here is the group page. I hope to see you all in there.

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5 thoughts on “Students Surviving Stigma

  1. Academia sucks for mental health. I had to deal with the first (unfortunately of multiple now) situations of abuse of my sibling by providers in the 9th Circle of Hell the week of my defense. I asked about trying to postpone, but was flat out told to keep the date or leave the program. No sympathy. I defended and a few days later was giving an abuse report. My boss this current go round managed to make it even worse by permanently branding me with labels and mean nicknames he still calls me because I once dared cry in front of him after learning about more shit in 2018. He also threatened my job for months, but I guess realized while I was on break I’m hard to replace. I’m doing my damndest to find another job to remind him of that permanently. The way he dehumanized me for trauma he doesn’t deserve my skills. (Also he’s pretty much a universally acknowledged rich, entitled jackass in general to everyone.) So, yeah, totally feel you. I felt once like the fact I was being forced to choose between my PhD and my family and mental health. At that time I had little understanding of how systemic abuse is perpetrated. I blamed myself for failing everyone, including, somehow, the department head who forced that impossible situation on me. But, now I see that as incredibly wrong on there part.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can tell it has been a struggle for you, too. It really is a shame that we just get slapped with labels and then that’s that. People can’t see beyond the bad and recognize all the good that lies there.

      Liked by 2 people

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