The class I took at the beginning of this year, Nutritional Cooking, was unfortunately interrupted by two days of illness, requiring me to make up the class. The registrar at least let me continue with the group I came back to school with, so I enjoyed 21 more school days with the silly group while at the Caterina De'Medici restaurant. While it wasn't all roses, overall I enjoyed the classes, but then I hit a pot-hole: my anxiety attacks were cropping up again, and it felt like my meds weren't doing anything. I was losing focus, losing my sense of timing (which I never really had well to begin with) and once something touched off an anxiety attack, I couldn't clamp it down and work it out of my system so I could continue to function. Not good.
Then, the biggest pot-hole yet: my 5th Term Culinary Practical, the rather involved exam that you must pass to be able to graduate. I was running high on anxiety getting there and had hot-and-cold running panic attacks the entire time, which made me just about useless: I failed the exam. That was on a Wednesday. Thursday I barely contained myself from being a complete wreck in class, had a long chat with the instructor and Group Leader after class, and then spent time up at the admin building working out a chance to retake the exam, so I was late to the pre-Day 1 meeting for the next class at the Escoffier, which didn't give me any points with the TA. Thursday night, I tried to get myself under control, and even helped out my teammates by printing out all the recipes on my printer (it does duplex! Whee!). My team agreed to meet 15 minutes before classtime.
I set my alarms, I tried to do everything I could to be ready so I could be in class 30 minutes before schedule -- and ended up 2 minutes late to the actual classtime (according to their clock, but that's a rant for another time). The TA made a disparaging remark about how the same people who were late to the PreDay meeting were also the ones late to Day 1 and this bode poorly... and that was it. I had an emotional meltdown.
The first psychiatrist I managed to get ahold of from the list could see me immediately, but not at the office that was local to me. I jumped at the appointment anyways.... after five minutes of talking to her, I wasn't feeling very confident. Especially since she seemed adamant that I was not ADHD, but bipolar! I've read about both and while they have a couple of actions in common, they are far and away two different mental diseases and have vastly different symptoms... but she insisted that my saying that I'm "accident prone" was proof. She told me to cut down on both the Zoloft and the Strattera as she wanted to 'detox' me from the wrong medications and put me on the 'right' meds for my problem, and perscribed me Klonopin for the short term. She actually had me believing her for a little while, but upon returning home I went back to my usual resource sites and confirmed what my intuition was telling me.... not to see her again.
I managed to find another psychiatrist, this one having only one office and it was close to Rutger's campus, so he probably worked with a lot of college students. I mentioned the previous psych's assessment and he just looked puzzled and shook his head. After a little talk, he determined that the problem was really more a matter of drug management -- the doses I was taking (prior to Ms. Bipolar) were inadequate for my body weight. So, he wrote me scrip for my existing meds at higher dosages and told me to come back in a week for a followup. He didn't have me stop taking the Klonopin, so that would also affect how I was doing. A week passed and I was feeling almost normal again (of course, I wasn't under any stress at home like I was in the kitchen-classroom, but still I could feel a difference), so he said that was all I needed. Have a nice day. :)
Working with the Registrar, I got set up to return to school March 7th with a retake of my Nutritional Cooking class -- only I'd be a PM student again as she could only place me where there was openings. Because Nutritional Cooking is only a 7 day class, the other 7 days of the block being Italian Cooking, I get a seven day break before starting Escoffier again. I also got to retake my practical on Day 6 of the class. Sounds workable.
I did pretty good in the class, confidence level was up, had fun at the Fish Station making wontons and Salmon... until yesterday. As a PM student, I have to report to the Exam Kitchen at 7:00am. The weather has been changing rapidly up here and I ended up having an asthma attack getting to the classroom. The chef-proctor sent me to the nurse, and when I returned feeling better, he scheduled me to be the last student in the run (there are only 6 students per Exam). This was good and bad for me, good in that I could calm myself and study more before my time, bad in that I'd have no choice in what menu I'd be cooking. Sure enough, I got stuck with a menu that had the same Fish Course as the last exam had -- Shallow Poach, the toughest of the three Fish menus. My bane. This time I did better in keeping the anxiety at bay, but I didn't do any better at getting my timing and speed up to snuff. I failed the exam again. I didn't crumble, but I was crying... understandable, all things considered. Because I was an hour late on my cooking, I had to clean up my area super-fast as the PM exam Proctor would be in the kitchen in 40 minutes! By the time I got everything cleaned up, the proctor had arrived and was making himself tea. We never spoke. I got my things and got out of there.... and noticed that it was now 2:20pm. My class started 20 minutes ago. Feeling as emotionally burned out as I was, and not having anything for lunch, I was just not in the mood to go through the motions of a second kitchen run... I headed there anyways, to at least explain to the Chef why I wouldn't be in class. He was in lecture, but both TAs spotted me and could tell something was wrong. I went into the girl's bathroom (I really needed to) and after a few minutes heard Blair ask me if I was alright. Blair was the AM Teaching Assistant, and knew me from my first run in the Nutritional Cooking class. After I left the stall, we stood in the main area of the bathroom and had a long talk... the Group Leader for this group also came in and talked with me... both agreed that there would be no problems if I didn't do class. My station was covered, and Paul the other TA already knew my situation and would relay it to the Chef.
So, I trudge up to Roth Hall to let my student counselor in on the bad news... she asked me to come back in 10 minutes, so I went to the Apple Pie Bakery and consoled myself with a hot chocolate (with homemade marshmellows) and a slice of carrot cake. Then I went back up, talked to my counselor, then on her advice went over to the Learning Strategies center and talked to them. I got some names to contact, then headed back to my room. By this time, it was 5pm. I hadn't eaten anything since 6:30am, I'm depressed and weepy but determined to continue on. I sent emails to the various names given to me, chatted online with my coug'r and some friends, then decided to go to bed at 6pm. I didn't wake up until 9am.
I formulated a plan, picked up a few things, then headed off to class. While not feeling chipper, I wasn't a nervous wreck like I had been the last time around. I had a decent day of doing a lot of prep work for the next class' Day 1 on Thursday. Getting back to my room, I found messages from various people, so I 'm getting somewhere, but I'm still feeling pretty burned out right now.
I miss my coug'r. I want to get the house dealt with and go home to Cali. I really, really want to finish my degree. And, of course, all this retaking of classes and exams has a financial toll as well.... at the beginning of Restaurant Row, I was square with the bursar. Now my account is almost $5k in debt. I'll have to find funding to cover it, which is yet another time-critical project I have to do. *sigh*
I'll be glad to get off this pot-hole ridden dirt road and onto smooth asphalt again...please?