My experience of education while coping with mental illness

Firstly, I’d just like to put a trigger warning on this post for anyone who is sensitive to the topic of self harm, suicide and mental illness. These posts are written in diary form, therefore it is not necessarily factual/helpful to those who may be struggling, please take this into consideration when reading. If anything causes you concern, you are welcome to email me or reach out to a mental health helpline.


As an academic minded person, I found it very difficult to leave education due to mental health issues. I felt like a failure. I didn’t want to be a year behind my age group, despite knowing a year doesn’t matter in the long run. My mental health was at its worst at the end of high school but I managed to do my exams and stay until the end(I really do not know how). It was then I decided to have a break before starting higher education. I didn’t find education hard, I’m naturally good at retaining information, I really enjoy learning. I liked the routine of school. I just wasn’t well enough to be able to study, without it deteriorating my mental health further.

When struggling with my mental health, I was often suicidal. I didn’t see the point in completing work or revising for exams if I wasn’t going to be alive. I lost all motivation. My attendance dropped. This is the period in which I self harmed. My final year at high school teachers were becoming concerned. I  withdrew from my friends. I would disassociate in class; not realising when someone had said my name. Failed to complete homework but wasn’t seen as delinquent. My school sent me to psychotherapy but I wasn’t cooperative and didn’t want to talk to anyone. I still went to the weekly hour meetings but I said very few words. I didn’t tell them I was suicidal as I had to sign a form that they could seek other professional help without my consent if so. I had a huge fear of being sectioned so remained silent. 

I didn’t apply for college/ect as I didn’t plan to live long enough to make it to that stage in life. I hadn’t planned my future. As I didn’t commit suicide, I was still alive but I felt very lost. This is when I took a year break and decided to focus on my mental health. I couldn’t cope not being in education, not being productive so I took an online part time course. This was a good decision, it took the stress away of attending classes, as well as making me feel less worthless, as I was doing something.

I am now studying for a bachelor’s degree full time, but online still. I may even do a masters or PhD in the future. I think I can cope, I’m feeling optimistic, I always have the option to go back to part time if needed. I’m only now understanding that it is OK to take a break, you can return to education anytime, your mental health is more important. I’m still not sure what I want to ‘be’ when I finished my degree, and I often feel confused that I am still alive. I am giving myself time. I still have a few years of my study left, and if I still don’t know, I’m thinking of doing a PhD.  Right now I am enjoying learning, so feel comfortable where I am.

Thank you for reading, I didn’t really talk about anything in detail, if you are interested in a specific topic, or maybe a ‘how to cope with school while suffering with mental illness’ ect I will take comments into consideration!


  1. I was hospitalized a couple of times during my first year of grad school. Luckily it was an online program and my profs were super supportive, so I had the flexibility I needed to get through that year, even though it was hard.

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  2. We had to pull me out of school twice in 8th and 10th because of my mental. Luckily my school worked with me in high school and my mom managed to force the hand of my middle school so I was able to turn in work from home. It’s almost impossible to be a student when that severely depressed not to mention a good one. It’s so important to take care of yourself and know the right path for you. I’m so glad that you found it doing college online. It’s amazing that that is an option now! We’ve come a long way it what is offered, and though it wasn’t meant for people with mental illness exactly, it definitely worked to our benefit. Inspired by you perseverance!

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  3. I was in foster care so i was put on a lot of psych meds during high school. The side effects made it so hard to function in class. I had horrible insomia, slept thru all classes until the last 2. Couldnt help it. Panic attacks in class that sent me to the psych ward 3 times. Then during college i had to go cold turkey from my meds cause my insurance was cut off since i wasnt i foster care anymore so my brain would literally shut off every fall and winter. I had to tell the teachers i didn’t do the work cause my brain didn’t want to, torturing myself all night just to even write the first paragraph. Im on disability so talking to the counselors is how i managed to pass high school and why i was able to turn in things late in college. But i must say this if you haven’t done this already: studying my mental health from an esoteric and exoteric POV has helped dramatically. Especially since I learned that my mental health was worse in the fall and winter cause the viel to the unconscious was ripped open and i was being submerged to investigate my wounds and heal. Thank you for sharing and I wish you peace of mind. 🙏

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