I Was Hospitalized, No Big Deal

Last spring, I dropped out mid-term because I was hospitalized for self harm and suicidal ideation. Around the same time, I was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome, a disorder that causes me to make movements and noises I can’t control. Near the end of the summer, I was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. I had already been diagnosed with severe anxiety and severe depression in high school, so these new disorders only added to my burden that is mental illness. I’ve come to terms with my disabilities and I’m learning how to live with them. In fact, I’m actually happy to finally have these diagnoses because they allow me better access to help that I need.
My summer was a whirlwind of learning how to manage my tics, which are the symptoms of Tourette’s, and trying to function outside the hospital again. I took classes at a community college near my house to get a feel for college life again because there was a lot of worry over whether or not I would be able to handle coming back to Augustana.
The time spent in the hospital did me a lot of good, though there were some low points. I still struggle with dark thoughts, and having moments where I’m not in control of my body certainly does nothing to boost my self esteem, but I’m learning to accept my tics and I have healthier ways to cope with negative thoughts than I did before.
Since I’ve been back on campus, I found that a lot of people have been surprised when I tell them about my summer. I think it’s because I’m very honest about my experience – I see no shame in any of what I’ve gone through and therefore I have nothing I want to hide. Depression and anxiety don’t make me a bad person and the only thing hospitalization for them should say about me is that I was lucky enough to get the help that I needed. I may not always want to talk about my Tourette’s, mainly because the disorder can be physically tasking on my body and that makes me grumpy at times, but I don’t mind answering questions for people who want to learn more. To be fair, when my ticcing is more visible, I don’t exactly have a choice about answering questions and becoming a sort of spokesperson for Tourette’s because it’s fairly obvious I have a disability. But I don’t mind that much, I like being a spokesperson because I’ve gotten to have great discussions with all sorts of people because of it.
As for being diagnosed as autistic? I’m thrilled because I’ve been fighting for this diagnosis for years now, and it took twenty years for a doctor to take me seriously when I asked to be tested. That may be surprising, but I actually get excited to tell people I’ve finally got a professional diagnosis. People have asked me why I’m so happy about being autistic, and it’s because I’m happy to have a word for one of the things that make up who I am. I’m not any different now that I’ve gotten the diagnosis and I’m not any less of the person than I was before.
Augustana has been really helpful in making sure I have accommodations that I might need and for that, I’m extremely grateful. I’ve always loved this school, but to receive so much support when I was going through such a hard time just made me love it even more. I’m excited to be back on campus and I’m not going to let any mental illnesses keep me from being an Augustana Viking.