First, let me say that I am sorry. I’m sorry that I did not live up to your expectations. I’m sorry that I wasn’t the best student in the world. I’m sorry that I made your life inconvenient.
What I will not apologize for is this: Showing up late because I was too nervous to come into the classroom. Not showing up at all because I couldn’t get out of bed. Turning in my homework late because it was exhausting to type out the answer to 1 question, let alone 10. Emailing you the day of the test (like you asked) to tell you that I would not be able to make it, and offering to reschedule the exam with Disability Support Services so that it wouldn’t be a bother to you.
“You cannot just decide the day of the exam that you do not want to take it. You should plan to take the test with the rest of the class.”
Except I couldn’t.
There are not many days that my anxiety and depression win. I get up most of the time. I may be late, but I am there. I may look down the whole class, but I pipe up when you ask questions. I put myself out there. I try.
This day, I could not try any more. I had been awake for hours, trying to muster the strength to get out of bed, or even just to roll over. Anxiety is paralyzing.
When I finally gained the ability to sit up and grab my phone, I emailed you a very apologetic message about not being able to come. If I had said I had the flu, or my grandpa died, or my car broke down would you have been more understanding? I hate to think so, but part of me knows that is the truth.
I failed that test- not because I was unprepared, but because I was too focused on how fast my heart was beating to even be able to see straight. I kept having to reassure myself that I would not spontaneously combust in that classroom. But you did not care. You did not care that I showed up late, in my pajamas with mascara running down my face and bags under my eyes; that I hadn’t showered in 3 days; that I didn’t remember the last time I ate; that I literally thought if I stepped out the door that day, that I was going to die.
I expected, out of all my professors, that you would understand.
Am I saying that any of this is rational? By no means.
Having to check the front and back doors 3 times before I go to bed to make sure they are locked, and then asking my husband if they were locked? Totally irrational.
Assuming when my husband doesn’t answer the phone that he must be dead, and there is no other option? NOT rational.
Thinking that, since tomorrow is the expiration date on the milk I have to throw it away right this second or we will die from food poisoning? Nonsense.
The belief that if my socks match, something terrible will happen? Ridiculous.
I hit the lock button on my car when I get in, because if I don’t, someone will carjack me.
I run the whole 50 feet to my door from the car, because if I don’t, I will be kidnapped and raped and killed.
I check the knobs on the gas stove 3 times before I leave, because if I don’t, the house will burn down.
The insides of my cheeks have holes in them because I bite them so much.
My fingers look like they went through a meat grinder because I chew on them when I’m nervous, which is all the time.
I have a hand sanitizer attached to everything because if I don’t wash AND sanitize my hands, I will contract some disease and die.
I am terrified 95% of the time, whether I am asleep or awake. Anxiety and depression control my life, and I am trying so hard to get better.
I have sticky notes on our bathroom mirror that remind me to take a shower, brush my teeth, and wash my clothes.
I made a chore list so that, even on the worst days, I could feel like I accomplished something.
I made a “Master Syllabus” with every class and every assignment and every due date this semester, that way I could keep track of what was going on in the real world.
I’m a wreck, teach. I really am. And, unfortunately, I’m going to fail your class this semester. I became too anxious to attend class. I felt ridiculed and stupid for being too scared to answer your questions. The thought of a 20 page research paper is overwhelming and terrifying, and I could not do it.
But I will retake your class next semester, and I will pass.
I will graduate in April.
Yes, it took me 6 years.
Yes, I withdrew two semesters.
Yes, I failed one.
No, I will not give up.
No, I am not wasting my time.
No, I am not a terrible student.
I’m going to do this, with or without your help.
I don’t need you to give me special treatment.
I don’t need you to hold my hand and baby me.
I don’t need you to feel sorry for me.
I just need you to understand that things are not as easy for me, but that I care so immensely about learning your material and applying it to my life.
I just need you to acknowledge the fact that I’m trying.
And that it matters.