Health Magazine

Sick, Suffered, and Recovered– My Recent Success At School

By Lisaannjarrett @bpdblog

Spring Quarter at The Evergreen State College was a hard one for me, BUT I battled the dragon (or should I say- Geoduck)Sick, Suffered, and Recovered– My Recent Success At School …. and I did really well.

Real quickly, I’d just like to mention a few things concerning the school I go to:

  1. There are NO letter grades. None. Instead, each professor writes what is know as an “evaluation” based on the quality of the student’s work that quarter. In return, every student is required to write an evaluation of their professors as well, which end up in their permanent job file at school. Cool, huh?
  2. There are some individual classes, BUT most students take what is know as a program. A program is an 8-16 credit block of classes, team taught by the same professors throughout. The material covered comes from different areas/specialties, but yet fit together like a puzzle as they all relate to the same topic.
  3. There are NO majors. Nope. None. Everyone gets pretty much the same degree (a BA, BS, or both). Instead of majors, students have “concentrations”– area(s) that they focused on throughout their college career.
  4. TESC (my school) is on the quarter system, and NOT semesters. In a school year, there are either three quarters OR two semesters– depending on the school.
Got it?____________BACKGROUND

Spring Quarter started off with me being warped out of my mind and sick. I had a situation that I needed to deal with for another class with a professor who loved to push my buttons– not a good thing. Anyway, I took Spring Break to finish up this class. I think I maybe had a day or two of rest before my seminar for Spring quarter began. Not surprisingly, the work load was pretty substantial and concerning our actual class time, we only went for three days a week: 10-4 on Tuesday and Thursday and 10-1 on Wednesday.

Sick, Suffered, and Recovered– My Recent Success At SchoolAs the quarter progressed (and as my stress levels rose), I got sick over and over again. More specifically, before taking a trip to Chicago in early May, I had been in the emergency room, urgent care, or my doctor’s office FIVE TIMES IN TWO WEEKS. This was all after consulting with my insurance’s nurse hotline, mind you. One time I had the worst painful, crippling allergies I’ve ever had (but I thought it was the flu at first); then I had bronchitis; a day later I had a nasty, sore rash over a decent portion of my body. After that, I had a horrible virus that wouldn’t allow me to drink or eat, and then my last visit was for mental health-related issues. These, of course, were all on an outpatient basis.

Large class load + constant illnesses/feeling like hell all the time + having Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)= recipe for DISASTER!

…and that is exactly what happened.

I basically could not handle being sick as fuck all the time AND having to work on such a large course load. I couldn’t keep up. I started stressing out, panicking,  and, of course, this all triggered my BPD. I ended up really depressed about halfway through the quarter where going to class started to become a problem. I stayed in bed A LOT during this period of time. I recall CRYING and feeling alone and hopeless (abandonment fears is a symptom of BPD, btw). I would cry for HOURS at a time, I didn’t eat very much, and I was smoking weed to keep me from going manic and freaking out– which worked to some extent.

I could not handle my life at that moment in time. All of this peaked when I carved my right arm 17 times with a pair of scissors. I still have the scars to this day.

But things were about to change. Despite having four more weeks left of the quarter, an opportunity for me to go to Chicago for some r+r (rest and relaxation) was presented by my parents, and it was only something like a day or two later that I found myself back in Chi-Town. I had literally left ALL my stuff in my room. I gave my keys to my ex and he later cleaned up and took care of that part of the equation for me.


I found myself in Chicago, at my parents house. It was nice to have people around, especially my mother who typically hangs out at home a lot. Despite leaving school, I worked out a plan with my professor to complete my work for that seminar. I also had the opportunity to enroll in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), which is a type of therapy that is known to help people with BPD recover and lead a normal life. After finding a location close to my parent’s house, I enrolled, and after that there was no looking back…. I was only looking forward from that moment on.


After completing the assignments required of me, including a 10+ page paper about the US’ role in the Gaza Strip, I handed everything in… and I’m happy to report that my evaluation was probably the best I have ever received in my ENTIRE college career. It reads as follows:

“Lisa Jarrett did very good work in our one-quarter program on the history and geography of U.S. expansion around the world. Lisa grew as a thinker and writer on the interrelationship of “Manifest Destiny” to overseas interventions and present-day resource wars, and how this history continues to shape local places. 

Lisa participated in the seminars on the readings, offering thoughtful insights, and connections to personal and family experiences. Students wrote one-page commentaries on the readings for each seminar. Lisa submitted all 12 required seminar papers, and made helpful comments on other students’ papers in our online class forum. In her paper on Catherine Lutz’s anthology The Bases of Empire: The Global Struggle Against U.S. Military Posts, Lisa observed that the book “puts a light on the United States and the military bases that they have built and are building in countries all over the world. This light is one that needs to be seen by U.S. citizens, as many of us do not have a clue about what our country has been busy doing and moreover, where our tax dollars have gone. But a question remains: If more Americans knew about the atrocities mentioned…would they react and moreover, would they even care at all?”

As their research project for the program, students examined a single geographic case study, writing a paper on historical and contemporary issues. Lisa chose to focus on the Gaza Strip in Palestine. Lisa wrote an excellent 15-page paper entitled “The Gaza Strip: Peace Illuded,” with an extensive bibliography that was thoroughly cited in the text. Her paper covered the basic history of the Palestinian people, their dispossession of land, and offered personal stories of local residents to show the “human face” of the local residents. She reviewed both the non-violent and militant tactics used by Palestinians in their two intifada (uprisings), and the Israeli and Egyptian sealing of the border in response to the Hamas government ruling the Gaza Strip. Lisa concludes that “Life in Gaza is an anything but a picnic, but what many Americans do not know is that they are indirectly responsible” by arming Israel and not holding it accountable for its actions.

Lisa Jarrett is a thoughtful student committed to her studies. It was a pleasure to have her in our class and in my seminar.”

So yeah, despite EVERYTHING that happened to me Spring Quarter, I actually ended up doing alright. I’m very proud of this evaluation, so I can’t help but to share it. BTW, if you are interested in reading the class description, it’s viewable… after the jump!

“A People’s Geography of American Empire examined U.S. expansion — from “Manifest Destiny” and overseas imperialism, to present-day resource wars. The program focused on the place-making processes inherent in each stage of expansion, and on the imprints they have left on the human and physical landscape. It looked at “imperial places” that have been shaped by each era of expansion, and in turn have shaped each era. In addition to the origins and rationales underlying each stage of expansion, we examined how and to what extent the world’s landscape reflects and helps to (re)produce U.S. power.

The program made a geographical contribution to the growing study of American Empire, by examining the making and remaking of “imperial places,” and using place-based approaches to learning about imperialism. Lectures interconnected global and local scales, “foreign” and “domestic” policies, and past histories and present-day legacies. They examined the lasting effects of imperialism on real local places, in particular the expanding network of U.S. military bases around the world.

Guest lectures (by military veterans, filmmakers and activists) focused on case studies such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, El Salvador, Guam and the Philippines. Films added historical background on Native American nations, Vietnam, Mexico, Korea, Hawai’i, Okinawa, and Diego Garcia. Class workshops focused on media coverage of foreign policy, the history of U.S. interventions, rationales defending U.S. imperial reach, effects of militarism in the homeland, and alliances around military bases.

As their class project, students focused on a single local-scale case study, writing two separate but connected 9-10 page papers on 1) the past history of the place and the present-day status of the place (concentrating on how U.S. influence has shaped its political, cultural, economic and ecological landscape, or how local people have responded to the continuing U.S. role), and 2) a perspective from a local resident or visitor. Students presented their findings to the entire class as part of a regional group representing North America, Latin America, Asia/Pacific, or Mideast/Europe/Africa. 

Students held a two-hour book seminar with their faculty leader twice a week. They were to turn in a discussion page on the readings (with specific questions or comments) in each seminar, to gradually compile a literature review on the readings. Books included Overcoming Speechlessness (Alice Walker, whom the class heard speak), The Legacy of Conquest (Patricia Limerick), Facing West (Richard Drinnon), Pox Americana (John Foster & Robert McChesney, eds.), The Bases of Empire (Catherine Lutz, ed.), Humanitarian Imperialism (Jean Bricmont), Nimo’s War, Emma’s War (Cynthia Enloe), and Will To Resist (Dahr Jamail).”

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