I returned fall quarter feeling broken. I had hoped some time off would help my marriage and my mental state. But I felt exhausted and overwhelmed. I barely slept or ate. I was grinding my teeth and having nightmares. In class, I daydreamed because I didn’t really want to be there. I already have a bachelor’s degree from Wilmington College, but I’m back in school because I want to be a nurse.
In the past, my GPA has always been high. But because of challenges in my marriage, studying was no longer on my A list. Maybe not even on my B or C list. I had to read an assignment several times to get it, and I was definitely not doing my best work. When I got a C on the first test in Anatomy and Physiology, I panicked.
The worst part was pretending everything was okay. I couldn’t ask for help or admit the level of suffering. Not me. Instead, I smiled my best Pollyanna grin and went through the motions to keep up the appearance of a healthy life.
I was taking PYSC 108: College Success because the previous term someone had come into my English class and raved about it. That sounds like a course I could use, I thought. In the first week, I took the self-assessment. Ouch. Kick a girl while she’s down. I scored remarkably low in interdependence. I was shocked that creating a support system was so important. I’d always valued my independent nature. But I knew I had to do something different. I had to start somewhere. So I started by asking for help.
At first, it made me feel like vomiting. But it got easier. I trusted On Course and decided there must be benefits to interdependence. With practice, it got more comfortable. Now, it’s wonderful. I began by asking students who were doing well in Anatomy and Physiology to start a study group. We would meet and go over what we covered in class. They told me about strategies they use to memorize all the bones we had to know.
We made study cards and I carried them everywhere. I even started asking for help from coworkers at the hospital where I work. I usually did all of the patient charting, but I started asking others to share the task.
Next, I practiced the art of saying “no.” I was raised to say “yes,” followed by “please.” Saying “no” took some work. I literally broke out in hives at first. I took allergy medicine and kept trying. I’ve gotten so good at it that now I say it every day, usually followed by “thank you.”
My mom is famous for calling me and asking me to pick up something at the store. I finally told her I had to choose activities that were important to my goals, like studying my nursing courses. I even said “no” to cleaning my house all the time. I prefer a clean house, but saying no to cleaning means I can say yes to more important things. The results have been life changing.
I also made a conscious effort to tell people how I truly feel. Living as my authentic, quirky self feels right. Many relationships where I was doing all the work have disappeared. For example, I asked my husband to help more around the house. He got angry at first, but I told him how important it is to me to get help so I can succeed in school and become a nurse. Now he helps more than he used to. I’ve finally made living the life that I want a priority, and the people who really care about me are glad.
I am so happy and grateful that I signed up for this course. Also, that I took it seriously and dove deep. I was off course in September, but the New Year is looking brighter. When I got my grades at the end of the quarter, I had all A’s. My marriage is way better and my husband tells me I’ve changed. He doesn’t say how, but I can tell that he likes me better now.
This process didn’t happen overnight. The journal entries were a valuable tool to inspire healing. While writing the journals, I felt very reserved at first. But soon I realized that I had something to say. I was hearing my voice again . . . my voice! Hearing my voice was like running into an old friend. There was a moment when I giggled. I thought, “I remember you. I like you. Where have you been my old friend?”