Failing a class + mental craziness = breakdown

I wrote this immediately after my mental craziness post, but I broke it into two to make it easier. It’s a pretty long post, but for any of you that have time, I would greatly appreciate any comments you all might have to help me through this. I feel pretty crappy right now.

In a whole different story, I really need that which I ended the last post with, the help of Husband and our happy marriage, right now. Because you remember that post about how it’s not working, how I’m not managing to get to classes and I’m spiraling down again? Well, as kind as people’s comments were, I was brought back down to earth today.

Here, in this class that I am in, one of the ones that I missed last Thursday, the level I am working at is not ok. Coursework burnout is not ok, and depression is not an excuse…only enough for the professor to offer me some extra credit, perhaps, once he thinks about it. I literally am in danger of failing, I learned so this afternoon when the TA e-mailed me back, and again after class tonight when the prof asked to talk to me.

The thing is, I had realized in early October, right before all the crazy money issues began, that I needed to work harder, because I saw that others had much higher homework grades than I would have guessed the mean was and deduced that my poor scores were possibly too poor to get me through.

So I knew I had to work harder, and I managed to, for a bit. I managed to put my all into the homeworks that were due, and turn them in thinking I had really done my best. I managed to do that despite the fact that with that plus going to classes and babysitting and my other class and research I was only getting a few hours of sleep. I managed to do that despite the fact that during that week in which I did two homeworks instead of one, and did barely any research at all, Husband’s and my financial situation hit the fan in an unexpected manner and I actually was quite hungry throughout much of the days and arrived home at night weary and with hunger headaches just waiting to eat whatever cereal or pasta we had left in the cupboards. You might ask “Flicka Mawa, why didn’t you just ask someone for help? Surely someone could have lent you enough money to eat better than that.” And that’s a good question. I was just so busy trying to manage doing the homeworks for this class and so tired and hungry that I didn’t have the extra energy it takes to find a source of personal loans. On top of that, I don’t see an immediate end to the financial problems, and so I’m reluctant to borrow more money from anyone. I did get some help from my mom, and that was enough to refill the cupboards with cheap and somewhat tasteless food.

Anyhow, I digress. This is not meant to be a post about how horribly we have (not) managed our finances this year that Husband has been trying to start a company and work from home.

(Can we interrupt here to say that a group of people from my office just met up and talked about how they were going out together for dinner or a drink and mingled here for a bit and lamented the lack of another office mate and then left, without even thinking to say hi to me, let alone ask me if I would like to join them. There are multiple grad student offices in the department and so mine has only about 8 people that use it regularly, and these people are not only closest in proximity to me but among the friendliest to me of the whole department of grad students. Oh yes, I feel so welcome here.)

So anyhow, this is meant to be a post about schoolwork, and depression, and how I can manage to be failing a class.

So, after that week where I did manage to try really hard and attempt all the problems as best as I knew how, then there was a take home midterm, and I spaced out the work as best I could manage and tried very hard, spending many hours on each of the 5 problems. I got it back today, and you know what? I got a 51%. The mean was something like an 85. And those homeworks? Well one of them I neared a 75%. The other one, maybe a 55%. So apparently even that, that week where I thought I really gave it a lot, wasn’t quite enough, certainly not to make up for the poorly done homeworks I did before I realized that people were getting in the 90% range.

Granted, everyone sees this as a challenging class, but apparently everyone else is ready and willing to rise up to that challenge. I’m obviously extremely distraught over this, but I’m also completely amazed. Either my inadequate background from a different department has left me at a much worse starting point and thus it doesn’t take them as long as me, or they are all spending many, many more hours on their homework than I was ever planning to devote to mine. About twice as many, in fact, since I’m getting about half the credit for the work and they’re managing to get near perfect scores. Seriously, 85 and 90% on weekly homeworks (6-10 difficult, new problems each) in an extremely challenging graduate level course? Who would have thought that would be the norm. Don’t these people also have research to be doing, or at least more other classes than I have?

So where am I left? Not an impossible place, I realize. It could be worse. I could have no chance of getting my grade back up to passing status, and need to drop the course and then be less than full-time, or take an incomplete, or whatever it is they do with kids who fail courses here at my university. But there are a few weeks left, and there is still the chance of better – the opportunity to do what I need to do to get my grades up. So, I don’t really see any options but to do that. The thing is, this is clearly going to take a lot more time. I can’t give up the babysitting, because we are surviving on that influx of cash to buy groceries, meds, and subway fare each week. I suppose I could see how the other students are managing it if I replaced every hour I spend babysitting with an hour spent on the homework and reading for this class. Frankly, that sounds horrible to me though, so I don’t mind that we need the money and I need to work.

So what else am I doing? There’s my other class, but honestly I haven’t put much into that either, and had probably better e-mail that professor and TA as well. At least with that one I had already explained the depression issue briefly, so it’s not completely unknown to them. What else is there… Well there’s research – I could do less of that I suppose, but I really thought I was kind of just maintaining at an amount that barely passed for 6 credits worth.

And then there’s non-work time. That’s the only place I can see cutting down on, but I’m barely managing to not breakdown as it is. I guess if I am so busy with coursework and babysitting and research that I don’t have time to think, I won’t have time to stress myself out or breakdown. That worked for that one week I described earlier, but it’s not really that maintainable. I can probably handle it until the semester is over, since it’s really only 5 more weeks or so, but the other problem is that I will miss Husband. I already wish I had more time to spend with him, and what with my freak-out about our marriage and how much I depend on it, I don’t really want to put less time into that. I don’t see much of a choice though, so I think a combination of sleep and Hubby time are going to go out the window until late December rolls around. Wish me luck!

Good news: Just writing that whole post and thinking through it did help me to feel a bit better.  I can do this…I can do this…I can do this.