One might say my last term at Dal was a bit of a disaster. In fact that IS how I described it to people at first; as usual though, a little more perspective shows that everything worked out exactly the way it was supposed to. Here’s how it happened.

I came into the term already feeling a little unsettled: the work term didn’t clarify whether this was the right field for me, it was hard to connect with a whole new group of younger classmates, and most of my peeps from my previous terms were out of town on their second work term. Also a shoulder injury prevented me from swimming, and winter isn’t the time to go running or biking in Halifax, so I wasn’t getting any of the exercise that usually keeps me sane. I worked really hard to stay ahead of deadlines, and managed to stay afloat pretty well until about mid-way through the term. In fact I really loved my Design project, and other people seemed to think quite highly of it too, but at a certain point it stalled. There were some key issues that needed addressing, and as I tried to make adjustments to the design to accommodate new features, nothing worked, and it felt like the whole project was disintegrating in front of me. This went on for about a month, during which time I didn’t realize just how tightly I had braided my own sense of self worth with the success of this project, and it was literally making me crazy.

Most of the negative thoughts I was having were running in the background, but a day came when they became loud, persistent, and very dangerous. Having lost family to suicide, and having worked with people who were suicidal, I finally recognized that I was in real trouble. The myopia that comes during these moments meant that I could only see two options: death, or leaving the program. I chose the latter, and those terrifying thoughts fell quiet.

My school was really supportive throughout this, and together we worked out a less drastic plan: to finish some courses, and return next year to complete the others. I am determined to finish this degree. In the meantime I will work, save money, practice some of the skills that I felt weak on in school, and most importantly, do some counselling to address the roots of that negative thinking.

Had all this not happened, I would now be finished the degree, and looking for work in a very slow market, with those thoughts still lurking below my conscious awareness. I feel really fortunate to be given the chance to slow things down, learn something really important about myself, and be better prepared to move forward when I do graduate. One way or another, everything works out.