I am a student at FIU with two semesters left. My dream is to go to DC for graduate school. I am one of those students that likes to visit professors.
I have been recently diagnosed as bipolar. I first sought help through Counseling and Psychological Services on campus, but I was rejected. I was too much of a liability, according to them.
I spent most of 2013 in a depressive state. I got some incompletes that spring semester. Even though professors have told me I have the potential of going to DC, an advisor said it would be best to just get my bachelor’s degree over with. Read between the lines: he told me I’m not capable of handling graduate school because I’m diagnosed as bipolar.
I feel now, months later, that I’ve been discriminated against. I sought help, I sought guidance and I was essentially told that I’m too sick to reach my goals, that I need to lower my expectations and get out of FIU.
Aside from being pushed aside by our university’s counseling services and put down by my advisor, I started getting emails practically every week telling me that I owed over $6,000 from spring semester, even though I had the incompletes, and that if I didn’t pay back in full, my account would be sent to collections. Even though I worked out a payment plan, the emails kept on coming. I will not be able to return to school, get access to my transcripts or transfer schools until it is fully paid off.
I ended up sending an email to my professors, apologizing, telling them that I was going to fail and that I hope to take their courses again in the future. The only way I can pay back is through full-time work.
At my job, it is known that I’m bipolar. I work at a fast-paced office in Downtown Miami. They have been very supportive and accommodating. I work late to meet deadlines and I have come in on weekends voluntarily because I care about my employer’s success. It’s a little perk from getting hypomania.
They also let me take sick days to restart my brain. They know why. Just like my professors, my mentors have known why. Being brutally honest has been working well for me, save for the FIU situation.
Mental illness should not be a death sentence. It shouldn’t automatically force a person to lower their expectations. Stop insinuating that I’m just a button-pusher, FIU.
When I was rejected by counseling services, that was incredibly traumatic for me. It was like they were putting the nails in my coffin. I cried from the moment I left until I got to the car.
An institution of higher education should not shun students with mental illness. How is society going to move forward if this institution discriminates and dismisses students like me?
I am outright accusing FIU for discriminating against students with mental illness. There are many of us out there. It is pretty damn difficult to admit that we need help to begin with, and often college services are the best we can get.
You’ve raised the tuition to pay for our less-than-stellar sports programs. How about you invest more on the student body’s health, safety, and overall well-being?
Make your students’ success and personal growth your priority – for everyone. You are perpetuating all of the negative stereotypes about mental illness. How is a student like me supposed to go to school confidently when you treat us as inferior? It internalizes the stigma and we hide in shame.
Shame on you.