Stephanie Quispe

I came to college never expecting I would be considered someone who has a disability. That honestly sounded ridiculous to me. After I was assaulted at BYU, I was forced to face all my demons. I got diagnosed with PTSD, which to this day still affects my ability to function and focus on school. I also briefly struggled with some depression, anxiety, and an eating disorder. It was quite difficult to balance school, and social life, while trying to take care of my mental health. My counselor at the multicultural student services office suggested I get an accommodation letter from the UAC. I refused once or twice, until I found myself almost flunking semester after semester. I finally went to my therapist and got documentation. BYU refused to see me due to how severe my PTSD was, which makes sense and I am glad I got long-term help outside of the CAPS center. Shortly after I started working with UAC, I got a brain tumor, so needed documentation for the seizures/migraines I now get as a result of it. This also made me a bit more "slow" in terms of my learning capability.

The most difficult part about this journey is feeling accepted by others. I once heard a professor in my major say, "I don't even get why students need these accommodations. Back in my day we just sucked it up." That really made me feel small and I just kinda brushed it off. I have also had professors look at me like I'm lying or making up my sickness - whether that be emotional or physical. Most professors and other university staff have been amazing at making accommodations. Sadly, there have been a few that have not been. Those few actually made my depression worsen, because I honestly felt judged and belittled. It sucks, and I hate having to explain what's going on in order for them to take me seriously. With time, I have learned to be strong and advocate for my needs. It has not been easy but I have come far in hopes that professors who haven't been as accommodating can learn from my experience, and be more respectful to the students who come after me.

The biggest take away from my personal experience having a disability, is that not all disabilities are visible. Some might be mental or emotional, like it is in my case. I might look put together, dressed up and smiling. But if I'm being honest, most mornings it takes so much strength to get out of bed, brush my teeth, and look semi-clean. I sometimes am shaking with anxiety to leave my house, or cry because I feel so overwhelmed. Yet, I still show up so people think it was no big deal for me to be in class. In reality it is an everyday battle; looking beyond my mind and having faith in giving it my all to attend.

Feeling invisible in a campus where I yearned to feel welcomed, made me feel so sad and anxious, I legit stopped going to classes and starting taking classes online. I realize this is just from my perspective, so I am now readjusting to being on campus and owning who I am. However, i think past experiences led me to think this way about BYU, and the perfectionistic environment it can sometimes portray.