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Has anyone disclosed a mental condition?


InquilineKea

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And how did it work out in the end?

I'm *very* wary about doing this. I've concluded that I probably have to disclose ADD (since there's a sharp GPA discontinuity once I started on medication), which should present the case that my past failures should not apply in the future. Otherwise, I'm probably going to keep my comorbid Asperger's and social anxiety secret (although I always eagerly wait for a moment to disclose them to professors, even though I probably shouldn't).

Edited by InquilineKea
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Unless it's 100% necessary, I would not mention your ADD. As someone who has adult ADD/ADHD, some people (unfortunately) still view it as an "excuse" or a "fake disorder for lazy people." Say you struggled with medical issues if you absolutely must, but I don't foresee them feeling the need to pry into that. And especially if you didn't have it recorded with your U/G university. Then they may simply view it as an excuse for a student who realized half way through college that they should get their shit together.

While we like to think the people we want to work under have the best intentions and thoughts, you must prepare for the worst.

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What would you say about mentioning Tourette's Syndrome in the app. It seemed to help me in getting into my undergrad school ( I mentioned it to only half the schools I applied to, and it seemed to help to get into those). Or will it be disadvantageous in grad school admissions?

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Just a thought, OP...your signature links to your Facebook page, and your Facebook page has your GradCafe username on it. Admissions committee members could very easily match this thread and your real-life identity. If you are unsure about disclosing voluntarily, you certainly don't want them to be able to match your post here to your application without you even knowing.

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I have ADD induced by bipolar disorder, plus a bit of a panic disorder as a tasty side dish. There are 4 professors at my u/g who know what is up, because I have had many classes with them and the long period of medication tweaking impacted my performance to a degree, necessitating disclosure to avoid the "slacker" label. I'm under control and registered with my u/g's disability services now, and I've been lucky in that the professors I've told have been discreet and supportive.

I totally agree with warpspeed in regards to the "getting shit together" concern. I have struggled with these conditions for years but was too damn stubborn to seek help. I was 29 and suffered a nervous breakdown before I started treatment. So now I have 29 years of nothing, then WHAM! multiple diagnoses, constant medication tweaks, frequent doctor visits, etc. starting halfway through my junior year. It looks shady to ME, and I'm the one experiencing it. I also agree on the level of disclosure; I personally intend to avoid talking about the bipolar completely and will refer to it as a "medical condition" (which it is) that causes ADD-like symptoms (which it does) even after admission. As for past failures affecting future performance, as long as your last 60 hours (or jr/sr years) shows generally high marks, I don't think you have much to be concerned about.

That said, one of the programs I'm applying to is here at my u/g. Even though 4 of the profs that will I would be working with here know about my condition, I'm still not going to actively disclose it to this or any other program during the application process. While it's true that ADA protects me from discrimination and rejection based solely on my conditions, I know that there will be at least some degree of personal biases toward the mentally impaired that will leach into the process and that might cause adcoms to look for other minor flaws to justify a rejection. As much as attitudes toward the mentally impaired have changed in the last few decades, there is still a long way to go in educating others and debunking some of the stigma that mental conditions carry.

I know this doesn't exactly answer your question, but I just wanted to lend support to a fellow sufferer and share how I'm handling it as I apply. Best of luck and Happy New Year!

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Personally, I think the severity matters. If you needed medication to "get your shit together," then it would be unfortunate for the committee to think you were lazy and just unwilling to get it together otherwise. Plus, an uptrend in GPA because you stopped being lazy is different from one because you finally got medication. I don't know anything about ADD/ADHD; only you know how much it affected you. And perhaps you will ask yourself to write honestly about it and your academic career.

I have bipolar disorder with psychotic features. I barely graduated from college in 5 years. I was ultimately committed to a psychiatric hospital for 2 years a few months after I graduated. I am definitely going to disclose it. My illness affected my entire life during college, the few years after it and even today. I am still slowly getting my shit together.

It went undiagnosed until my last semester (at the college clinic), and I have a whole slew of withdrawn classes, F's and a GPA of 2.66. I have my fair share of A's on my transcript in the beginning and some at the end, but none in the middle - mostly just W's and F's. I want to do well on the GREs and write a good essay that doesn't sound like a "woe is me" story. I did make mistakes, and I didn't always deal with my problems with maturity. I also misdirected my energy when my mood was good towards other non-academic pursuits because I wanted to escape the "stress of school."

It's a mixed bag.

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I would mention it, and explain to them that medication actually helped you. I come from a psych background, and if you were applying to a psych-related program, this might be easier for you, but I think it's something that I would try to work to my advantage (i.e., I overcame hardship and it all turned out well in the end).

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Thanks for the replies everyone! Wow, I *really* appreciated some of the personal stories that some of you shared - they really were quite encouraging. At this point, I think I'm leaning towards non-disclosure now. The main thing is this: how would mentioning ADD help when "getting my shit together" could also work as an explanation? The main reason why I'm not disclosing this, though, is because astrophysics grad schools do rely a lot on the Physics GRE, and the adcoms might think I got extended time on the test if I mentioned that (and the problems on that test aren't even that difficult, but the timed nature of it does make a lot of good students do badly on it).

Personally, I think the severity matters. If you needed medication to "get your shit together," then it would be unfortunate for the committee to think you were lazy and just unwilling to get it together otherwise. Plus, an uptrend in GPA because you stopped being lazy is different from one because you finally got medication

Hahaha excellent quote!

Edited by InquilineKea
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A lot of schools that have required personal statements (not the sops) mention as a prompt to talk about anything that hindered your education. That's probably a good place to mention it. Just remember to make the overall essay positive and to make sure it doesn't sound whiney.

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Personally, I think the severity matters. If you needed medication to "get your shit together," then it would be unfortunate for the committee to think you were lazy and just unwilling to get it together otherwise. Plus, an uptrend in GPA because you stopped being lazy is different from one because you finally got medication. I don't know anything about ADD/ADHD; only you know how much it affected you. And perhaps you will ask yourself to write honestly about it and your academic career.

I have bipolar disorder with psychotic features. I barely graduated from college in 5 years. I was ultimately committed to a psychiatric hospital for 2 years a few months after I graduated. I am definitely going to disclose it. My illness affected my entire life during college, the few years after it and even today. I am still slowly getting my shit together.

It went undiagnosed until my last semester (at the college clinic), and I have a whole slew of withdrawn classes, F's and a GPA of 2.66. I have my fair share of A's on my transcript in the beginning and some at the end, but none in the middle - mostly just W's and F's. I want to do well on the GREs and write a good essay that doesn't sound like a "woe is me" story. I did make mistakes, and I didn't always deal with my problems with maturity. I also misdirected my energy when my mood was good towards other non-academic pursuits because I wanted to escape the "stress of school."

It's a mixed bag.

It matters because unfortunately, there are a lot of people in this world who don't believe it is a good reason. You may hit an adcomm with an influential member who thinks that learning disabilities are figments of the imagination. It's still pretty common belief, especially when it comes to adults. Many people still think you "grow out of" ADD/ADHD. And that it is only used as an excuse for people who are lazy or stupid. It's not worth the risk in my opinion.

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What if it's simply massive fatigue? (despite sleeping more than most college students do?) I have reason to believe that I have the http://en.wikipedia....cognitive_tempo subtype of inattentive ADD (but this isn't even in the DSM-V yet, so it would be irresponsible for me to mention it).

Surprisingly enough, if I omit ADD, then I'm pretty much *forced* to write a paragraph about what exactly happened to my early years. Which would make me sound a lot more whiny than if I simply mentioned (in a single sentence) that I had ADD and that I did well after getting meds for it.

But my ADD was coincident with this strong fatigue (although it's not diagnosable yet), and the medications helped so much with the fatigue (so that I can finally be able to focus). It's actually pretty obvious (to everyone around me) that I have major issues with fatigue/alertness, although they always think it's caused by sleep deprivation.

Edited by InquilineKea
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I would just stick to a one line sentence mentioning some medical conditions that you now have stabilized. i really wouldn't mention anything that could be misconstrued by an old minded person. but thats just me and what i would do.

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I sympathize with you and your condition but I would NOT mention it.

We had an entire discussion in one of my courses (pharmacology) of cognitive enhancers and should students be allowed to use them or not while in graduate school. I definitely got the impression the professors did not like the idea of students using them and if you were, they didn't want to hear about it. I truly would Never put this in my statement of purpose.

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We had an entire discussion in one of my courses (pharmacology) of cognitive enhancers and should students be allowed to use them or not while in graduate school. I definitely got the impression the professors did not like the idea of students using them and if you were, they didn't want to hear about it. I truly would Never put this in my statement of purpose.

Hm though, people don't like the idea of *normal* students using them - but they're generally okay with ADD students using them.

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No, the discussion I was referring to was talking about all people in general using them, even those with ADD and how cognitive enhancers should not be used.

I was only bringing up an anecdotal situation which I thought might be useful in a persons decision making process as to disclose a condition or not.

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