the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
January 21, 2012 7:13 AM Subscribe
How do I explain a university medical withdrawal to a prospective employer without damaging my chances of being hired?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (17 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I've lived with varying degrees of depression and anxiety since my teens. Despite this I've done very well in school and went to university on a full academic scholarship to study biochemistry.
My first two years I took credit overloads every semester (usually at least 20 credits per), took more difficult course levels than required for my degree, and kept my grades up (mostly As and a few Bs). I also partied a lot those first two years, so I don't think school was stressing me out that much. It's not like I was in the library every day.
My anxiety hit a peak the summer between my second and third year of school. I experienced extreme somatic anxiety every waking hour that manifested physically in various ways. My third year I was taking 5 different 500 level science courses and by the middle of the fall semester my anxiety was so bad I often couldn't remember my phone number or apartment address. I remember being on the verge of tears for basically no reason all the time.
After breaking down one night from full blown panic attack I decided to seek a medical withdrawal from school. It is university policy to take a full year off when pursing a medical withdrawal for mental health reasons, so I withdrew from all classes that semester and remained unenrolled for the spring semester as well. I sought help (both drug therapy and talk therapy). That year was the darkest year of my life, as I sat in my apartment alone every day with no job or school. I engaged in various self-destructive behavior, basically went insane, hung out with vagrants and criminals, blah blah blah. I really wish I did an internship or got relevant job experience was I was far too depressed and messed up to successfully job hunt even though I put in some effort. So I did nothing except take three summer courses.
I'm back in school now, doing research in a lab, got As in my difficult courses last semester, and I'm going to graduate in spring. I'm going to have a biochemistry B.S. with honors after only being in school 3 years.
But how do I explain the year gap in my transcript to employers? If I tell the truth, that I suffer from anxiety and depression, I'm worried they'll see me as a liability: someone who cannot be depended on because they might be inconsistent in performance. Should I tell the truth and slant it toward a tale of perseverance or should I lie and say that I was injured or had a non-mental illness?