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So, you have been forewarned. This diary is all about the glory of me.

However, I think I have a right.

You see, I'm doing something Saturday that seemed so out of reach for so long that I can barely contain my excitement. There have been many false starts. There have been many roadblocks. There have been many detours. I finally, finally, plowed through them all. So, on Saturday, at a small state university in Massachusetts, I will be receiving my bachelor's degree in English, with a minor in Secondary Education (and, after all the paperwork is filed, a teaching license). Furthermore, that degree is going to say Magna Cum Laude on it, with a 3.7 GPA.

So, yeah, I think that's worth patting myself on the back...oh, wait. One more small, tiny, minor detail.

Did I mention I'm 48 years old? Yeah, there's that.

And there's more--the reason I'm finally getting my degree at 48 years old.

More celebrating over the gnocchi.

Once upon a time, I was an academic prodigy. Once upon a time, I started school a year early. Once upon a time, I broke IQ tests. Once upon a time, I got in the 99th percentile on the Secondary Scholastic Aptitude Test, thus getting a full academic prodigy to a very competitive high school.

And, once upon a time, a couple years after earning that scholarship....I slit my wrists.

This began what I now know to be 25 years of undiagnosed depression. Oh, I hid it--to a degree. There were no more attempts to satisfy the suicidal ideation (though the ideation itself was constant.) I functioned. I got married. I fathered two children.

But, before that, I dropped out of college. I "didn't know what I wanted to do". (True enough). I went to a college too far away and got homesick. (True enough, but that was at least partially the depression talking.) I "never learned how to study." (Bullshit--I never had to study all that much before I tried to off myself--but I told it to myself enough).

There are many symptoms of depression. Slitting my wrists was sort of a dead giveaway, of course, but people didn't think that way when a 15-year-old did so in 1980. (Oh, it was a "cry for attention". You bet your ass it was. My brain was falling apart. But I digress....) I wasn't particularly "down" for most of the intervening years, but I had symptoms. One was a complete lack of energy.

And the big one was, as I now put it--it was like depression took about 80 points off of my IQ. I know it wasn't quite that--it was more like an inability to concentrate--but it made me feel stupid.

Taking a guy who breaks IQ tests and gets 99 on the SSAT and 1400 on the SAT and making him feel stupid...well, that didn't help the depression much, which is an understatement. It was a vicious cycle.

I finally, at the urge of two people very close to me who finally saw the signs, got help. The treatment helped me survive the end of my marriage, and the death of my brother (one of the people that urged me to get help), two things I didn't think I could ever survive. So, with the marriage over and my life at a bit of a crossroads because of it, and the Prozac working wonders, I said to myself, "You want to be a teacher. You've known for years you want to be a teacher. It's now or never."

It took me five years of school (spread out over six, one off due to financial reasons). I started at the local community college--where there were a lot of old farts like myself :)--to the local state U--where there were a few, but very few. I made friends, good friends, with 20-year-old kids, who appreciated that I read all the assignments and spoke up in class, and would talk to them like they were peers. I had a great time. And I'm graduating with my 3.7.

It's been a long, long road. But I'm finally here, and I am DAMN proud of myself.

Now, I just have to find a job :D

9:14 PM PT: Wait, what? Rec list? For this piece of self-aggrandizement??? Well, thank you very much, I really appreciate the huzzahs and congrats, and you people must have really needed a Happy Sunny Diary today, huh? :D

Originally posted to ChurchofBruce on Tue May 14, 2013 at 07:58 PM PDT.

Also republished by Mental Health Awareness and Depression and Suicide.

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