I lost Matt, my boyfriend, right before my last year of high school. I was going through a really rough time and it extended into my senior year.
I struggled with keeping my grades up and lost a lot of close friends immediately after. I credit most of it to the fact that I was grieving and the only way I could sit with Matt’s death was if I sat with it alone; which ended up pushing a lot of people away.
During my senior year I was pushed to make a decision on where I was going to apply to university and for what program. I definitely did not feel ready to approach either decisions, but I felt like it was the only choice I had. I was too scared to speak up because I didn’t want to let anyone down.
Eventually I decided on a school I felt like I would be happy attending and a program that I felt would pay off after four years — sociology. I wanted to learn to understand people and society, so that post-graduation I could potentially find a career where I could live to help others.
I went through first semester of university feeling utterly lost, confused, and extremely depressed. I wasn’t enjoying any of my classes, I felt the work load to be a lot and I wasn’t engaged in the social aspect of university at all.
I tried to be social and make friends but the environment I kept putting myself in was ultimately very detrimental to me. I was constantly surrounded by heavy partiers who were into drugs and by default gave me so much anxiety.
My depression and anxiety were triggered in these situations because it reminded me so much of Matthew and the way he died.
Soon after, I felt myself get worse. I wasn’t able to focus in class, which eventually turned into being scared to leave my room and see people. I started skipping lectures and falling behind in school. Keeping up with the battle in my own mind became a full-time job.
During Christmas break, I told my parents that I couldn’t go back to school, so I dropped out.
Everything just felt wrong about me being at university. I know I let down people and I get judged by a lot of people for dropping out of university but I had to do what was best for me at that point in time. If I was going to be in university, I wanted to be in a mental state where I could actually learn and absorb all the knowledge. I want to be there when I can actually keep up with my school work, and with friends, and in that moment I definitely wasn’t capable of that.
I learned a lot from both going to university and with dropping out.
I learned that you need to put yourself first, even if it means disappointing others, especially when it comes to mental illness. You have to do what’s best for you. I took some time off to recover and reflect on myself, my life, and where I wanted to go next.
I took the time to think through what my true passions were and what I wanted to pursue in life. I looked through various options, that I hadn’t ever considered looking at before. After searching and searching, I finally found it.
I was determined to pursue Protection, Security, and Investigations at college. It wasn’t what all the people I had disappointed had in mind for me, I guess in Canada, college isn’t considered as ‘prestigious’ as university, but this is what I really wanted to do. For once in my life I was doing something for myself, to make me happy.
I definitely think I gravitated towards this field of work because of my experience with Matthew’s death. I think that in my mind, I want to catch all the people in the world who supply teens with harmful substances, and help educate teens so no one else has to go through what I did.
I hope college works out well for me in the fall and although it was a rough, difficult journey to get to this point, when I look back I’m really proud of myself for finding the courage to stand up and speak up against my mental illness. I was brave enough to remove myself from a harmful environment, and courageous enough to give myself time to find where my passions lay and decide to pursue them.
Read more of Josie’s posts here.