• bad times,  depression,  gap year,  grades,  health,  lost,  probation,  stress

    solidarity sister

    Hi Aska,

    I’ve come to you in the past to ask an important question that you answered spectacularly, and I’m returning to ask yet another question in hopes your answer for this will exceed how great the previous one was. Whereas my last question sent nearly a year ago was excitement and anxiety meshed into one about trying to figure out my second year courses, this one is about giving up those second year courses. Or just giving up period. Idk, basically, I’m in a deep and dark hole that I can’t seem to climb out of.

    I’m a second year student at UTSG, I am in “good academic standing”–not necessarily meaning I’m doing “good,” but the school hasn’t sent me a threatening email about putting me on academic probation, so in that case I’m golden. I have dropped 2.0 FCEs, and am currently about to fail another full year course which I sadly no longer can drop on ACORN according to the 2017 Calendar. (idk i read about talking to my registrar’s office about dropping it, idek pls confirm).

    I’m just in such a rut. I had my life planned out since my first day of senior year in high school, and now I’m barely getting by because I am so unhappy that I’ve been seriously considering professional help to get me through (although I probably won’t because of embarrassment issues). I have no motivation–the path I had planned for myself was a plan I loved, but now I’m so unsure. (I’m an English and History Major btw; was planning on getting my Masters of Teaching from OISE after completing my undergrad and then becoming a teacher. But my marks are too low, let’s face it, so I was planning on getting my Consecutive BEd from YorkU after.)

    What I’m saying is, I need advice. I need a break from life. Because I swear, just a few more weeks or days or hours on campus and I will crack.

    If I end off this year, I’ll only have 2.0 FCE’s fulfilled for my second year. Almost like it didn’t even happen and I just wasted 7K+ on my tuition. Sigh. Can I take a year off? What will happen when I ask to come back after? Can I even ask to come back after? What should I do, Aska? I’m hopeless.


    A distressed and mentally drained soul that feels like giving up on everything in the world.

    (aka probably a lot of students that go to UofT)



    hello friend,

    thank you so much for reaching out. i wish i could’ve gotten back to you sooner! it has also taken me several hours to craft a response to this so i apologize!

    since the topic of mental health is super super important to discuss, i’m going to try my best not to sound cliche and just be honest about my own experiences and try to give you advice based on what worked for me. (cliche’s are cliche’s for a reason though, so apologies if many are used)

    to preface all of this: i’ve been through exactly what you’re going through, and dude, i feel you. the past four years have not been smooth and i continue to deal with depression and anxiety everyday. it was really awesome of you to reach out about this topic this because it encourages people to talk about it. keeping things bottled up is never a healthy option. i am a firm believer in letting it out. anyways, please know that you’re talking to a kindred spirit and that even though i might not know you personally, i’ve been there.

    transitioning from university is a huge jump and you’re definitely going to be under a lot of pressure. deadlines, commitments, terrible profs, and newfound independence are pretty much a recipe for disaster if coupled with sleep deprivation and lack of general nutrition.

    let’s try to tackle this step by step.

    1. your academic standing and dropping courses: regarding your academic standing, as long as you are still “in good standing”, you are, in your own words, golden. failing a Y course isn’t the end of the world. just make it up in a different semester! in the future, (again, i wish i had gotten back to you sooner) i would recommend that you consider this wonderful thing called LWD (otherwise known as a late withdrawal). i’ve taken advantage of this many a time when i’ve hit rock bottom, and it’s super helpful for times when you know you’re going to fail but you’ve missed the drop deadline. read more about LWD here.
    2. getting help: admitting that you need help is pretty hard to do but it’s the first step to feeling better. i can tell you from personal experience that reaching out to a professional is definitely hard but once you do, you’ll feel so much better and you’ll feel super accomplished. you don’t need to be embarrassed about your mental health. there are more people out there than you think that are going through the same thing. how i got help: i reached out first to my friends who urged me to see a doctor on campus. i made an appointment (really the hardest part) to discuss my mental health with a physician at health and wellness and she referred me to a psychologist. with my doctor and psychologist, we developed a treatment plan to help me gradually feel better. at around the same time, i was missing deadlines, skipping classes, and staying in bed all day. it was really hard for me to come to terms with getting zeroes on assignments so i went to my registrar’s office to ask for help. i will never stop singing praises for my registrar’s office because they’ve helped me in so many ways. my registrar wrote letters to professors for me when i needed to ask for extensions but was too embarrassed to ask. they are also knowledgeable about the various campus resources that are available for students, whether it’s accessibility services or health and wellness. making my profs aware of my condition also yielded some very comforting responses. i had profs who said to me: “please let me know if you’re struggling, don’t hesitate to come talk to me if you ever need someone to talk to”. i even had profs who went above and beyond their role as a professor to make sure i was still caught up with my work by emailing me what i had missed. profs are humans too and chances are, they’ve probably gone through some dark times themselves, but you’ll never know until you reach out to them. if you only get one thing out of this post, i hope i’ve encouraged you to get help. you are not alone in this battle and there are tons of people and resources out there that can help you lessen the weight on your shoulders. trying to crawl out of the dark whole is hard but it’s easier when you have the support of other people.
    3. a change of plans: your life is constantly shifting. every factor in your life is fluid and sometimes it’s really difficult to have a set plan for the future. just look back on your life 2 years ago: how much has changed? did you think you’d be where you are today? you learn new things, try new things, and meet new people everyday, all of which could drastically change your whole life course. while sure, it’s good to set goals for yourself to work towards, don’t sweat it too hard if your goals may need to change. there really isn’t one way to do anything. going on a completely different path doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t end up at the same destination. you could switch your majors, take a gap year, decide you don’t want to go back to school, get certified for teaching languages abroad and end up teaching english in japan! same end goal, different path. it’s not the end of the world if things don’t work out right now because the possibilities are endless. *askastudentstorytime* things have an odd way of working out. i actually wanted to go into the same teaching program at OISE but found out that my grades were too low. i went to the registrar’s office one day to talk about how my grades sucked and i ended up getting a job there a couple of months later. since i started working here, planning for my career has completely changed. i may not ever become a teacher, but i’ve found something else that i also like doing, and you will too!
    4. gap year: if you feel like you’d feel better taking a year off, by all means, do it! your health is your number one priority because a degree is pretty much worthless to you if you end up destroying your soul to procure it. if you do want to take a gap year, don’t enrol in any courses in the semesters that you want off, and the school will get the hint and financially cancel you. if you are an international student, contact the CIE to double check the consequences of going on a gap year with a study permit. don’t worry, nothing bad will happen while you’re gone and you are always welcome to come back and finish your degree at any time. all you’d have to do is to re-register and pay the $25 re-registration fee at your college. see? not so scary!

    you wanted some advice for what to do so here is the tldr version of it all.

    dropping/ failing courses won’t sabotage your whole university career. it happens all the time. next time if you know you’re going to fail but you’ve missed the drop deadline, consider using one of your LWD’s.

    talk to someone/ anyone about your struggles. someone out there will be able to help you or at least relate to your struggles! take advantage of the registrar’s office and the resources available to you on campus.

    goals may change and that’s okay.

    take a gap year if you think your health would benefit from it. a break from school and some time to recuperate might be exactly what you need right now!

    i’m really sorry that you’re going through this and i hope that the summer is a lot less stressful and more enjoyable. bask in the warm sunlight and drink it all in before things get dark and gloomy again. feel free to write again! while i can’t guarantee that i will get back to you in timely fashion, i guarantee that aska will always respond eventually to any emails we receive. thanks for taking the first step to email us. be proud of your efforts.

    i know it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel at this point in your life but i can assure you that it’s there! it’s always easier to walk through a dark tunnel with the help of people who’ve seen the light. idk, i’m trying to come up with a good metaphor but i’m not sure if it’s working.

    …k what i’m trying to say is that you’re not just walking towards nothingness.

    you’re gonna be okay. hang in there.

    peace and lots and lots of love,


  • depression

    counselling on campus

    How would one make an appointment to see a counsellor at utsg for depression/anxiety? also are there fees?


    hey there,

    if you’re a student at utsg, no, there are no fees. there are two places you can go to make an appointment:

    1) health and wellness at uoft is the campus’ primary counselling resource. you may have heard of CAPS (counselling and psychological services) at the downtown campus. that office has now been absorbed into health and wellness, which includes all health services that the campus has to offer.

    to make an appointment, you can either go in person to their office on the second floor of the Koeffler Centre (214 College St., on the corner of St. George and College) or book an appointment online, or by phone.

    2) your second option, which i have nothing to say about but good things, is counseline. counseline is a counselling service for faculty of arts & science students, offered by the factor-inwentash faculty of social work, that provides in-person counselling out of its Bloor St. building. all you have to do is give them a call and leave a voicemail, and then they’ll contact you to set up an appointment.

    you can learn more about counseline here.

    best of luck,


  • depression

    coming back strong

    HI Aska,
    I am in a terrible predicament. This is going to be long so please bear with me.
    I started at U of T Life Science program in 2009 and I am still at it. This is my sixth year at U of T and I am still in my Third year based on the credits I have obtained.
    So, basically my story is that two of my family members died in first year and I started my slide downward from there on. I went from a 3.7 gpa to a 3.3. In second year, I did found out that my grandmother’s cancer was back and had metastasized. I did okay but i started losing interest in my studies. In the ended up with a 2.8 GPA. My grandma passed away in the summer before my 3rd year. And I pretty much started ruining my academic career? I did the first semester (with 3 courses) of 3rd year and dropped out the second semester with a GPA of 2.5.
    Came back the next year and pretty much did the same thing as the previous year – did one course in first semester and dropped out of the rest. I thought that was the lowest I could go but, low and behold I didn’t get any help from anyone. I went to my college registrar’s office and they basically said that i should try to do better and try all the resources available at u of t. I pretty much was so depressed that I just continued on a self-destructive pathway and decided to come back in for another year 2013-2014. I pretty much failed everything. GPA plummeted to 2.1.
    When my family asked me about how I haven’t finished university yet I didn’t have any answer. I had just spent five years of uni, wasted tons of money and only ended up with 11.5 credits and 2.1 GPA. My family sought of help an intervention (for lack of a better word) and told me to get my life back in control. They told me what i already knew that I was ruining my life and all the potential that I had. I have gained 40 lbs over this period cause pretty much all i did was stay in my bed and stuff my face with food. I had decided to just give up on uni but, seeing my parents crying because of what I was doing to myself sought of gave me a final spark to do something with what I had left of my university career.
    So, finally to the question I have for u. (Sorry for the long rant about my sordid past). I am back for another year. This is my sixth year in u of t. I have 11.5 credits so I am considered a third year student and have a GPA of 2.1. Is there any chance that I could actually salvage any the rest of my academic career?? I know I should have asked for help a longtime ago but, now that I am finally getting to it is there anything u can suggest?
    Thank you,
    Looking for a light in the dark tunnel of my life.


    hey there,

    well, your health and wellness is your number one priority. if you feel unhappy with where you are in your life, then attending to that is important. on campus, CAPS and Counseline are great counselling services, if you think you could benefit from that.

    the academic success centre is your go-to place for academic support. your college’s writing centre is another good resource.

    i’m sure your college registrar gave you the same resources, and more. all these resources, though, assume that you’re going to decide to complete your degree. if you’ve returned to school, obviously i want everything to work out for you at school.

    however, you don’t want to be doing anything that seems worthless to you. that’s just not cool.

    if you’re doing your degree for a purpose (e.g. a job, to get an additional degree/certificate, interest in the topic of study etc.), then not only do i think you can salvage your academic career, but that you should.

    on the other hand, if school makes you miserable and your previous difficulties have been a result of doing university instead of what you really want to do, then, honestly, drop it like a hot potato.

    if you are invested in seeing this through to the end, you totally can. it’s possible to improve your GPA from a 2.1 with 8.5(+) credits to go. you just have to do a bit of exploring to find a support system that can help you.

    the awesome services i listed are included in the fees you pay every year, so why not take advantage of them?

    at the very least, you owe it to yourself to investigate a little bit, and see which, if any, of these resources can be useful to you. once you build a network of support, success will seem a lot easier, and maybe you can even start to see that light at the end of the tunnel.



  • depression,  suspension

    academic suspension and taking care of yourself

    hi there, I’m currently being suspended since 2013 Sep. I just want to know what can I do to re-enter the campus. I’m not that sunshine kind of people, when I missed the Orientation my first year, I didn’t get to know too much people. Not even talk too much. Then slowly getting depress and miss classes etc. Admission sent me an email about suspension and told me to book appointment with skill center. I do and I sent two email in one week between, but no reply so I even more depressed. I check the Acedamic Calender, it doesn’t talk about how to return the campus. So that’s the reason I came here. I also want to know is there any mental health center I can go and seek for some help in UTM?


    hey there,

    if you have been suspended since September 2013, then your suspension should be up after one calendar year, by September 2014, and at that point you should be able to register in courses again and return to campus. however, if you’re having trouble finding information about the terms of your suspension specifically, then i’d really encourage you to talk to your registrar’s office and ask them these questions. the registrar’s office is there to help, and especially if you’re on suspension, it’s a good idea to talk with them about next steps and transitioning back into school, as well as to answer any questions you may have.

    if you’ve sent an e-mail to book an appointment with academic skills, that’s great. give them a bit of time to reply – they may be busy and are just taking a little while to get back to you.

    also, it may be that they can’t book an appointment for you since you’re not currently registered, but either way, i’d say that phoning or visiting the skills centre in person to discuss how and if they can help you would be your next step. it’s up to you to seek out resources while you’re on suspension that’ll help you ease back into school as smoothly as possible, and the skills centre is definitely an excellent resource, so don’t hesitate to call or speak to them in person.

    finally, if you think that you’re struggling with your mental health and it’s impacting your daily life/school, then i think it’s a great idea to seek some help from UTM. i’m no ball of sunshine either, but there’s a difference between being unsociable (which i am) and missing classes occasionally (which i have done), and having a condition that affects your mental health. UTM’s Health & Counselling Centre would be the place to go for some help; just call the Counselling & Psychiatric Offices to make an appointment. if you think that your mental health is negatively affecting you in any way, then absolutely the best thing to do is go and see a doctor about it. trust me, you’re far better off talking to them than to me about these things, despite my exorbitant charm and beauty.

    all the best,


  • depression

    … and aska’s heart grew three sizes

    Hi aska,I’m in my first year at UTSG. My grandpa died around this time (finals) last year, and since then I’ve been going through depression (He was the reason I did most things. I always wanted to make him proud). I’ve been moderately depressed since I was younger, but I could keep it inside. This past year I wasn’t able to. I almost didn’t get into university because I couldn’t focus on school or anything else for that matter. My parents are sending me to talk to a therapist soon, because despite their best tries, they couldn’t help.I won’t go into more detail about what I’m going through, but basically my first semester has taken a hit.I’m not starting out university on a good foot, because I still can’t focus and apply myself to anything (school related or not). My marks are extremely low, and I’ll probably be on academic probation.I’m worried about what I can do. My parents suggested I pull out next semester and sort myself out before going back, but I really don’t want to do that. I just want to be okay again and do well in school again.I don’t know what to do. Do you have any suggestions? Thank you in advance.
    ——May you please not put my name up?


    Nameless friend,

    I am terribly sorry for the delay, decided to climb Everest. Although it did give me plenty of time to think about your question.

    I’m really sorry to hear about your grandpa. There is no shame in taking a semester off to focus on yourself and getting into a position when you can dedicate fully to school.

    It sounds like your parents might have your best interests at heart and I hope that the therapist helps you out.It’s hard to exert yourself in school when your main drive was your grandpa. Maybe take some time and find a reason for yourself to succeed for your own personal gain.
    U of T loves you and allows you to take a semester off, even if you happen to be on academic probation.

    How about this! Give your registrars office a shout and make an appointment with an academic advisor. You can explain your own situation in detail and they can help you to further decide what is best for you personally and academically. AND they usually have tissues and candy in their office!

    forever here and yours,


  • depression

    Help, I need somebody

    Hey there, I’m a first yr student in Scarborough. Basically i took an year off before starting at UofT that left me fearful of meeting people, going outside and well, depressed. i’ve been using the counselling services and doing everything else to get better since September, and I guess I’m still in the process of recovering..but I’m better than i was in the summer.

    I seriously feel like dropping out of school, and going some place else, to forget about my situation. I’m not depressed anymore, atleast not as i used to be, and I have friends that I bump into on campus or meet up with once in a blue moon, since they’re working or turn their phones off. Anyway, Im seriously letting this whole thing affect my academics; UTSC is a small campus, and there’s a 110% chance that you can bump into someone from high school–and THAT IS THE WORST
    OF ALL COMPLEX SOCIAL SITUATIONS KNOWN TO A FIRST YEAR!! Its like this awkward moment when you see them, but you don’t know if you should ignore them or keep walking, and if you ignore them, I have this guilty conscience that makes me feel terrible for the rest of the day. Worst of all, next time i see them, i end up saying hi to them which would then later get me thinking about what they feel about me.

    Ive considered switching to St. George, but it is almost a 2hr trip to the campus since I live beside the Toronto Zoo. I seriously don’t know what to do…or maybe I’m just writing this cuz I didn’t get enough sleep last nite…hoping to get something back.




    Hey hey MYO,

    I completely understand where you’re coming from. The transition from highschool to university might be one of the most challenging experiences for some. You come from a school were you know where you fit in and have your specific group of friends, to a place that is completely foreign to you.
    I know this is hard to do, but try not to over think things too much. The person who you are unsure of whether or not to say hi to is in the same position as you.
    If you decide not to stop and say hi, don’t worry about it! It’s not going to worry them all day, so don’t let it ruin your day.

    You seem like a genuine person, so the odds are if you do stop and say hi, they will only think good things when you walk away.
    University is both a terrifying time but a great one for self growth. As an upper year student, I have seen that transition in myself and in others. You might meet knew friends, and keep some old. It’s different for each person. I know right now you aren’t feeling the best about the school you’re at, but you will find your place. I promise.

    Don’t be afraid to meet new people and try new things. I’m not going to lie, you are going to try something and never want to do it again or meet someone who’s not the best for you to be friends with.

    I know this is very general advice. But I have felt alot of the same things as you and have finally found out where I fit in and what my strenghths are as and individual. So I have no doubt taht you will either

    Here’s the deal, write back if you are feeling unsure and I’ll try to help you the best I can or at least send you to a resource that can help.

    Yours Truly,