Tag Archives: education

How Depression Made a Top Student a Failure

Depression Just Ahead Green Road Sign with Dramatic Storm Clouds and Sky.

As I stated in my v-log on depression, statistics posted by Huffington Post earlier this year show that 30% of college students report experiencing depression so severe that it disrupts their school work. I mentioned in the video that I was in that 30%.

What’s interesting to me is the timing of things – a couple of days before recording that video, I decided to request my transcripts from my university. Since I quit my day job, I have been asking myself, “What do I want to be when I grow up?” As I started down that line of thought, I requested my transcripts to take a look at where I had been and revisit those subjects I had been so passionate about in my younger years.

When I first started off at college, I was convinced that I wanted to be a print journalist. I even had dreams of being an investigative journalist who uncovered big government scandals in the vein of Watergate. Being a passionate writer, print journalism seemed like a natural choice for careers.

Unfortunately, I quickly became disheartened with what I was learning in my journalism classes. I quickly learned that sensationalism was the order of the day – “if it bleeds, it leads” – and preserving the First Amendment had fallen behind how much ad space you could sell (which in essence, morally ties you to the whims of the corporations who advertise with you).

I was lost. I didn’t know what to do. My vision of my future completely disintegrated under the weight of a capitalist media system which had no regard for someone like me – someone who just wanted to write and seek the truth. This realization coupled with the shock of a failed relationship and struggling with my own identity sent me drowning into an abyss.

I became very depressed. So much so, that I lost interest in writing and researching topics I had previously found interesting. I no longer wanted to be involved with the Society for Professional Journalists. I no longer want to go to my journalism classes. In fact, I no longer wanted to even get out of bed. Since I couldn’t will myself to get out of bed or take a shower, I stopped going to class. My anxiety reared its ugly head. Because I didn’t go to class, I knew I would have to talk to the professors, which caused me so much anxiety that my fight or flight response had me fleeing – in so much that I just avoided the whole situation by continue to be absent. I was close to flunking out of school.

In high school, in all four years, I received all As and one B. During this particularly dismal semester in college, I earned four Fs and one D. It was absolutely humiliating. SO humiliating that this is the first time in my life that I have allowed myself to be this candid about it.

I took time off to really think about which degree would really interest me. Along with writing, I was passionate about social issues and had a somewhat morbid fascination with criminals, serial killers in particular. I also took time to recover from the depression, stress and anxiety – on my own, which wouldn’t be as helpful as I thought.

With these insights, I finally went back to school and changed my major to Sociology, emphasizing criminology and deviant behavior.

The next four years were much different.

To be continued

The Cauldron is Brewing

There is change on the horizon. It may be slow, but it will be glorious.

I’ve been writing, getting healthier (have lost 30 pounds) and forming ideas for an epic venture for all of us to enjoy.

Much of this stems from the fact that I realized that when it comes to my day job, I don’t love what I do. I don’t love my environment. In fact, I consider my current work situation to be untrustworthy and unhealthy. It’s beyond time for change.

When thinking of what I want to do in the future – aside from writing, of course – I know that there has to be a teaching aspect. I once received a tarot reading where the person told me that at my core I am a teacher, and whatever I do in life, I should never stop teaching. It’s the reason why the majority of my professional career has been in training and development – I’m currently an Instructional Designer, developing eLearning courses for a large company. So with these new ventures, I’ll most certainly devote much of it to a learning aspect.

Speaking of tarot, although I have not mentioned it before, as a writer it’s time to come out of the broom closet. Yes, I am Pagan. I have practiced various forms of Paganism for over 26 years. I embrace the word Pagan because not only am I a country dweller at heart, labels such as Wiccan never felt right to me. But that’s me. And these are things that we’ll all explore in my new ventures. I will post more when plans are closer to being finalized.

Thanks to everyone who has been supportive during these trying months. Your kind words have impacted me more than you know. Blessings to you all…even to the haters.

Bullying is Bullying

This post has some content that may be triggering – bullying, abuse.

I had the fortune to read the recent blog on bullying by my favorite geek Wil Wheaton. I haven’t thought about the kid who bullied me in over twenty years.

It’s a very personal post and quite poignant. Many of us were bullied as children. Some suffer far worse bullying than others. However, the fact remains the same – an individual is so significantly and emotionally impacted by bullying that even after twenty years the memories can bring us to tears.

I was bullied. I was taunted for my weight issues and even called Shamu. My father approached my entering school by saying that if anyone ever hit me, if I didn’t beat the hell out of them (even if it was a guy), I would get my ass busted when I got home. Was it appropriate for him to say this to me? Maybe not. But I do remember holding my own when physically confronted – even by boys. Yes, I had a boy threaten to beat me in elementary school. When he got up in my face, I got right back up into his, standing nose-to-nose…all while I was trembling with fear. Thankfully it worked, and he walked away. Because I did things like this, I was fortunate to never be physically attacked. Many are not so lucky.

My torment was verbal and emotional. I remember so-called friends turning on me and saying they hated me for some silly misunderstanding. I remember being teased for the way that I looked, wearing glasses, having braces and being overweight. The person who was my best friend in middle school shunned me. It was during that time that I started having suicidal idealizations and even attempted a couple of times. When she found out about one of the attempts, she laughed at me and said I was just doing it for attention. Did I want attention? Hell, yes, because I was in pain and her response was to laugh.

The closest thing to the physical I got was when a girl on the bus put chewing gum in my hair. Still, flashbacks to those episodes are no less unnerving just because no blood was shed. Many times the worst scars are the ones that we can’t see.

In Wil’s post he describes the father of the bully. When I read his description, my first thought was, “No wonder the boy acted that way.” Although that helps me understand the behavior, it doesn’t excuse it.

Aside from being a writer, I’m also a learning and development professional (my day job). I see the challenge in teaching teenagers that bullying is wrong because the seeds of bullying were implanted LONG before they became teenagers. It’s always much easier to teach something as new then to attempt to change a behavior/beliefs that have been internalized for years.

As adults, but most specifically, as parents, we all have a duty to teach our children – starting early in their lives – that this behavior is wrong. I have regular conversations with my 5-year-old that saying and doing certain things can hurt others. I don’t just tell her they’re bad, although they most certainly are. I emphasize the impact it has on the other person in hopes that she will learn something that many people lack today – empathy.

I couple these talks with talking to her about how she should react if she’s confronted with bullying. We discuss some of the reasons why people bully – how the behavior is learned, many are acting out for various reasons and quite simply, the individual just doesn’t feel good enough about herself/himself to the point s/he has to attack others to have some sense of self-esteem.

Is my approach better than my dad’s? I don’t know. All I know is that I want my daughter to be able to think about these things, stand up for herself with confidence and view others with integrity rather than mocking them for their pain. I feel that this is the least I can do.

Teachers are an Inspiration


We wouldn’t be where we are today if it weren’t for teachers. They help shape us, mold our world views and develop us into the people we become as adults. Behind the family, the most significant vehicle for socialization are schools. Teachers and peers are added to the social roadmap of a child’s life. Teachers have a hard job in this because the influence of peers has proven to be a greater impact on behavior – something that teachers and administrators have the painstaking task to mitigate on top of being responsible for the educational development of ALL of their students. This has to be one of the most difficult jobs in our country while being one of the the most thankless and least paid. The current structure of schools systems speaks volumes of how we view teachers. A foreign observer with a 30,000 foot view of the state of education could only assume that learning just isn’t that important to us. Add to this perspective the fact that many other countries have better educational success than the U.S. and we shouldn’t be surprised at the scientific, mathematical and business advances of other countries. In the most recent OECD data, the U.S. ranks below the top ten in many categories in addition to being below the OECD average in many instances. One thing that many have said – and I agree along with some critical asterisks – is that we need to invest in education and increase funding. If you look at the data, expenditures on education in the U.S. tend to be more than the countries that are outperforming us. This begs the question, and would require further analysis, of what we’re actually investing in and where the money is going.

We know that teachers and education are of great importance to the future of our children. Acceptance of this fact does not absolve us from critically assessing how our children are treated within the school system. It also doesn’t absolve parents from being directly involved in their children’s educations. If anything, teachers and parents should be partnering together for the betterment of the child. Unfortunately in a world where both parents – or the only parent – has to work excessive hours just to make ends meet, many parents are not as involved as would be ideal. There are parents who have no involvement although they are capable. It’s sad to see a lack of interest in the development of a child and it’s beyond me how a parent could be so deliberately irresponsible – and it’s no wonder that a teacher’s job is even that more difficult!

Teachers on a whole provide inspiration to the students they teach. Just like there are some parents who are unwilling to be involved in the process, there are some teachers who, for all intents and purposes, shouldn’t be part of the process. Thankfully, teachers like this are few and far between. Anyone who commits his/her life to teaching and perseveres after experiencing the struggles has within him/her the type of passion for learning that we should all hope for in the lives of our children. But when you are confronted with a so-called educator who has an agenda that is not in line with the best interest of your child, you would be remiss for just accepting it and explaining it away with the morally weak excuse of “life isn’t fair.” Just another reason why a parent’s involvement in the education of the child is of the utmost importance. It would be wonderful to live in a world where I can send my child to school and blindly accept that all is well, which statistically, it is. But teachers are human – which means they’re fallible, not perfect, and some are downright deplorable. Again, you would never know unless you’re involved.

If you are involved and are confronted with a situation where your child is mistreated, bullied, abused, discarded, passed over, ignored, bored, ostracized, humiliated, discriminated against, rights are violated or learning is impeded, rage against it, y’all. Don’t be quiet. As I’ve said in other instances, silence + complacency = permission.

I would like to close this post with a shout-out to the inspirational educators I’ve had in my lifetime that have had a huge impact on who I became as a person – first and foremost, always and forever, Mr. Wheeler, in addition to Mrs. Collins, Mrs. Hill, Mrs. Wheeler, Mrs. Martin, Mrs. Thompson, Mrs. Keatley, Mr. Maddox, Mrs. Cooke, Mr. Cooke, Mr. Nuckols and Mr. Sherman. I’m sure there are others, but these individuals are the first that come to mind for the positive impact that they had not only on me, but on other students as well.