This is a part of an ongoing series on my journey. For previous posts check out the Neil’s Story Category.
When we last left off, I was just freshly back at school and had shot up to the top of my class even though I hadn’t done mathematics in six years. As I mentioned, one thing that really helped was that I was being proactive and learning how to treat school as a game with a goal in mind.
But a strange thing happened in 2006-2007. Something I hadn’t intended at all when I made the fateful decision to return to school at my brother’s wedding. It wasn’t something I planned or really thought about at all.
I made friends.
So you say “big deal” everyone has friends. Well, yes everyone has friends. At least I hope everyone has friends. Still, I was incredibly lucky, because I met some really special people. How special?
I told them that I was mentally ill and they moved heaven and earth to understand and help me even though to my knowledge, not one of them had any previous experience with schizophrenia or any other form of mental disorder.
I am not exaggerating how awesome these people are.
For personal reasons (and very much has to do with the fact that I’ve decided to be public with my illness but not public with my private life) I won’t name my friends or identify them individually. My friends though made an effort to understand how I think and how I feel and really made an effort to accommodate and comprehend that the journey I was on might have unexpected issues.
All I had to say was that I was feeling a bit down and I would have phone calls, emails, text messages. You name it. Few people are lucky to have people so loyal to themselves and show love and care and understanding.
I might have been able to make it through undergrad without having such lovely people in my life. I might have had similar academic success, though I am a bit skeptical of that. The stabilizing force that they were really helped. My friends helped me grow in ways that an undergraduate degree couldn’t give me. My first trip away from home without family since my illness was engineered by my friends, who all helped make that weekend a success.
I was very lucky that at the time I met such, well, good and decent people. I wish that wasn’t something notable, but I know it my heart that it truly is.
I have so much to be thankful for and so much that I am lucky that I have. Next, I will detail the other major event in undergrad that changed my life. That was my introduction to and subsequent success in academic research.