I recently updated my name on my college transcript to make sure potential employers could find my educational history.

After the name change went through, I looked over my new transcript from a college experience I started back in 2006 and completed in 2018. During the first 3 years, I was an honor list student with As and Bs. But in the spring of 2010, I withdrew from college. I came back in Fall 2010, and this A and B student suddenly became an F and W student out of nowhere. Then in 2018, I took one summer class and graduated college.

What happened? Here’s the short version:
At the beginning of 2010, I went on a work trip. During that work trip, my employer did something awful which resulted in me immediately quitting my job. Afterward, I told my family and the only response I received from them was, “You should have known that would happen.”

Trauma is worsened without support and can become chronic.

I don’t remember much of that spring or fall. I do remember desperately trying to study and not being able to hold onto any information. I identified as a high-achieving student and suddenly I could not even remember simple concepts or facts even 5 minutes later. I only had one class left to graduate. It was an easy introduction to ethnic studies class and I could not remember a single thing I had learned. I would have flashes of memory in the middle of class as if I had just woken up. I would see that I had written pages of notes during class, but I could not remember writing them. With one class left to graduate, I dropped out of school.

Years of therapy later and the #metoo movement on my side, I finally got support from that college in 2018 to take my final class. I received my diploma at the end of that summer – 5 years ago. I was so relieved.

Graduating college changed my ability to provide for myself. Jobs that required a bachelor’s degree finally started considering me. My career is no longer held back by one class and a traumatic series of events.

Trauma without support led me to more trauma. I tried so desperately to make it on my own and some days I’m surprised I made it this far. Slowly the trauma I experienced is farther away. And slowly the support I have in my life is closer.

The pain and loss I went through is devastating. When I’ve tried to tell therapists about it they cry, so I will leave that history out for now. All I do want to share here is that trauma is very real.

Listening, believing, and offering support can change a life. So can listening to, believing, and supporting yourself. But a little bit of both is better.

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