unexpected help.

as anyone with depression knows, it can be impossible to get up.

not because you’re necessarily tired all the time, but because the weight of the universe is pulling you down. sometimes it is physically impossible to move.

as you can imagine, being a full-time student and being unable to leave my dorm was not a great combination.

my a’s started to turn to b’s, and those to c’s. my professors started noticing.

i finally summoned the courage to ask my spanish professor for an extension on an essay. normally i would be way to ashamed to ask for more time, but once i explained my situation, she was more than willing to help.

then she told me about the disability office.

“i don’t have a disability” was my immediate response.

but according to the school, i did. according to all colleges, actually.

that’s right guys.

in the eyes of educational institutions, severe anxiety and depression are seen as disabilities.

at first i was mortified. i didn’t want to have a disability. i was fine. “fine”. but once i actually sat down and talked to the people at the disability center, i was amazed.

i explained how i had chronic migraines that made it impossible to open my eyes. i talked about my episodes of anxiety or depression and how they kept me from concentrating, asking for help, or studying. once i provided documentation from my doctors (which was just a letter), i received the following accommodations:

  • priority registration so i could get classes later in the day
  • more excused absences that my professors had to accept – i could send an emailing saying “it’s a bad day” and my attendance wouldn’t suffer (gonzaga has a super strict attendance policy)
  • time extensions on assignments
  • one-on-one study sessions with my professors

couple all of this with the unconditional support and compassion from my professors, and i was doing so much better. the school genuinely worried about my health and wanted to see me heal. and that wasn’t just at gonzaga. i was met with the exact same response at seattle university and bellevue college.

academic institutions are required to have a disability office. it’s a law. but its the people in these offices that really make a difference. at all three colleges i was met with hugs and promises that i would succeed. these people genuinely cared and were determined to fight for me. they were my advocates.

so if you’re struggling with anything – mental illness, chronic health issues, etc – please go to the disability office. it’s such an easy process and has been the only reason i’ve succeeded at times. it’s worth it, i promise.

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