So, once upon a time, I dropped out of college. Then I dropped out of college again. And then, two years ago, I dropped out of college for a third time.
Somewhere in the middle there I started writing a blog called ‘Confessions of a College Dropout’, and it was basically a daily diary cataloguing my mental health ups and downs (of which there were many) as I strove to become a writer.
A free-form blog
From the outset, I was very open about the fact that the blog would not be the home of meticulous, polished writing. On the contrary, I insisted to myself that it would be a ‘stream of consciousness’ blog with zero editing. The reasons for this were twofold.
First, I wanted to put my tired writing muscles to good use, allowing myself the chance to put bad writing out into the world, guilt-free, intending only to improve as time went on. Second, I wanted to challenge my literary stage-fright. I’m not big on having people read my work, and that, as you may know, is a big weakness in a writer.
Then, just as the blog was finally gathering momentum (I was steadily gaining followers with each post), I took it down. I was perfectly happy to open up on my struggles with depression and anxiety to random internet strangers, but when people from my daily life started to acknowledge that they were reading my blog, I had to call it quits.
If I’m being 100% honest, I also worried about how my mental health candour might be perceived by potential employers. It wouldn’t be the first time that stigma got in the way of professional success.
So, I vowed to always get back to it someday, when I was ready.
Today, I’ve decided, is that day.
Mental health comes into it
My original introductory blog post all those years ago talked about the link between my poor mental health and my experience(s) with dropping out of college. We’ll get there, but that’s a different story for another day. I’ve come so far since then (and had a lot of therapy along the way), so my perspective on my mental health today is quite different from what it was back then.
Now what I can tell you is that my struggle with depression goes deeper than my academic failings and it is a part of me I’ll probably never live without. Anxiety, likewise, has been a constant companion throughout the years and will probably see me to the grave. Therapy has helped; medication has helped; writing has helped. However, depression and anxiety, for me at least, are like birthmarks – faded over time, maybe, but absolutely permanent.
So this blog will follow my efforts to live a normal, fulfilling life (and it will do so haphazardly at best). Some days, my efforts will be fruitful and others, very much not so. But each day I’ll try again, and hopefully, it will be some small comfort to even one other person who’s also trying.
Let the fun and games commence.