I was a promising Princeton student in the fall of 1979. I was thrilled to have won the Italian Department Prize at the end of my first year. That summer I was riding high only to slowly crash in the fall and spring of my second year. This was no sophomore slump. I felt I had no one to talk to about what was going on in my head, and certainly knew of no resources at hand. I was under the care of a psychiatrist by phone, but my “secret” was never spoken of, only in the concerned looks of a couple of close friends. A professor who had asked me to be her research assistant was stumped as to why the quality of my work had suddenly changed. I had no answer for her. I hardly knew it myself.
With some chemical assistance, I was able to see through second semester, but knew that I was in no shape to continue at Princeton. When I went to a dean to talk about taking a year off, no real questions were asked, there was no effort made to address the underlying reasons for the request. No suggestion of assistance on the part of the university. Mental health was never alluded to. It was all clean and dry.
Although I left and never returned, I have dreamed over the years that I didn’t.