First day jitters


I’m nervous. New things make me super anxious. I keep thinking I won’t be able to find my way around anymore, that I’ve forgotten how to interact with people, that the classes I need to take won’t be available. I mean, the worst possible situation is I don’t take classes til the summer but I don’t think that that is going to happen. There must be something I can take without the math pre-reqs finished already. The dogs sense that something is up so the little one is just whining constantly. I have to admit, I’m afraid that my brain just isn’t what it used to be. Between meds and the ECT and all the other trauma I’ve been through, it occurs to me that I might have just burned up what little usefulness I had.

First day of orientation is over, thank God. I was sitting listening to people talk at me from 8:30 this morning until 5 o’clock tonight. We were welcomed to the program in a very official, ceremonial way. There was even an introductory processional for volunteers and staff set to some weird drumming, like marching band music. I can’t even put it in a genre. It was just a horrible choice of song (and everyone around me muttered the same thing).

I’ve noticed that this school is very proud of itself, which it should be as an Ivy league institution, but it also loves to promote how awesome it is, even to those of us who chose it and were chosen by it. We already paid our deposits, you don’t have to sell us on the program. It is interesting to hear the history though. The larger program that I’m in was set up after World War II for veterans returning from the battlefield. They love the word “nontraditional.” We are people with life experiences who decided to go back to school, in a nontraditional pattern.

My particular program, started in the ’50s, is full of people who actually have their degrees, but in something else. Now everyone is going for pre-med or pre-health (dentistry, vets, etc) since they didn’t do it in school. I met a lot of fellow English majors, a fashion designer, a guy who’s been working on a humanitarian mission to Sierra Leone for years, some political scientists, historians, graphic artists, theater majors, financiers, a neuroscience major, and so many more that I didn’t get to hear about.

I met too many people today. I don’t have a memory for names any more. I’m also so fried. I woke up at 5 because for some reason I couldn’t sleep any more, didn’t have time to go back to bed, and was having a hard time keeping my eyes open all day (due to serious lack of caffeine for one). I haven’t been around that many people in an incredibly long time. I had to interact with peppy people who were way too excited to be welcoming people at 8:30 in the morning, while wearing neon.

I feel really overwhelmed. I got a lot of information today and so much of it doesn’t apply to me because I’m not trying to go to medical school but nursing school instead. I think this program might be a little ambitious for what I actually need to get into nursing programs, now that I’ve heard more and learned more about everything. At the same time, maybe that really ups my chances of landing a good school and a great job.

So I think I also have to take a chemistry placement exam in addition to math placement, which is frightening because 1) it has to be this week and 2) I know nothing on the list of topics covered. I haven’t taken chemistry since 1999. The last MILLENIUM. I remember Jack Shit. I know I liked it and I was decent at it, but I don’t remember anything. What am I supposed to do about this exam? What if I don’t pass it? It’s possible that I’ll have to wait until summer to do a pre-chem course if I don’t get in. Not the end of the world, but it does make me feel sort of slow and unworthy.

At times today I could feel myself dissociating, pulling back from the world and my experience. I was definitely overstimulated and trying to retreat into a safe place. I also noticed how out of practice I am talking to people. It’s been a while since I’ve had to meet new people in an atmosphere outside of say, my sister’s friends for her wedding, or the psych ward. All of my friendships from the last 2 years have come straight from psych ward stays because I haven’t done anything else. I don’t think there is anything wrong with this at all, but it does complicate things with people in the real world. When you start a relationship in a psych ward the “getting to know you” phase is seriously accelerated and certain basic similarities are assumed, like that you were in dire straits for some reason and needed to be hospitalized. It also removes the stigma of having to out yourself about mental illness. You know the other person has something too.

In the real world, you can’t just walk up to someone and ask, “Hey, what are you in for?” As someone who had to answer the question, “How did you get here?” more than two dozen times today, I eventually got the hang of speaking in highlights so as to gloss over the large gaps in my personal history that I would rather not share with someone I’m just meeting. I still found it seriously awkward to talk about myself. I’m sure that will fade somewhat with time and more exposure.

All in all a long, tiring day and I just want to curl up until sunrise.

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