Why I’m dropping out of school


Dear Editor,

Many suggest I should finish my undergrad (chemistry, philosophy, and math) with only two and a half credits left to finish—but I think the university owes me an honourary PhD. The truth is that my marks won’t get me anywhere.

Hear me out. Stressed out of my mind, I approached mental health clinicians at this school, and they tried to make my life a living hell. I understand that the concept of Big Pharma is hard to fathom for some—especially first-years and anyone else immature and naïve—that that very disgusting, despicable, morally outraging, and vomit-inducing practice occurs at U of T.

What vision can possibly guide it morally and scientifically when psychiatry has yet to overcome the barrier of credibility while its malicious practices extend their godforsaken roots to compete with the flower of society and future of this country? Owing its limited existence to preserving a mindless profit in the most medieval manner in a struggle for survival of human decency and the intellect, the U of T psychiatric department sits like a boulder on what growing roots U of T may have, but hopefully not in the way of that second-generation tree, grown in the soil of Erindale, the fruit of which now ripens. Turning a profit on cancer drugs may be rationalized, but there can be no excuse for promoting unnecessary, costly, and dangerous drugs at any university. If UTM wishes to lead, let it do so first by purging this city of morally offensive practices.

I need not dwell on the growing rumblings of a multitude over the state of the quality of education. My own experiences with many professors and especially of the array of unqualified drones that are most TAs have near rendered my wrath unquenchable to willingly present arguments for what I am to understand is common and self-evident to many of like mind, yet mysterious and upsetting to the naïve and immature.

The fact is I was prescribed an antidepressant after two one-hour sessions, with the only warning being that “you may read some crazy stuff on the Internet”. Amid the stories about the woes of education and of adverse “side” effects of drugs cooked in a lab half a century ago but that continue to be prescribed negligently since then, grant me to say this: I’m in severe anxiety over the way we are progressing at this university.

If I don’t have time for my classes, it is only because I am occupied with the university itself, and I intend to take the lead where there is none.


Phillip Niedzielski

  • Darren Savage

    Phillip, continually invoking the “moral degradation” without providing anything close to support as to why not only you, but others, should be concerned by whatever it is you are objecting against, weakens your case. The tone of this letter sounds radical, and not even radical in a contemporary sense, but radical in a medieval sense…(note: I don’t understand the entire sentence and extended metaphor about rocks, roots, fruit and soil). This is the 21st Century dude, effective writing should at least be understandable to a large audience. It may be that I am just as naive as those first years you bemoan (a little condescending, don’t you think?) but my experience with the education at UTM has been quite enjoyable and thought-provoking.

    On another note, this Big Pharma paranoia you seem to have sounds less Canadian and more American in scope. Yes, there are plenty of prescriptions for myriad medications, but that does not mean there is some conspiracy to over-prescribe. Fortunately, I was prescribed anti-depressants and anti-psychotics that helped me get through the days and even more uncomfortable nights. Were it not for them, the therapy that I also required would have been rendered completely useless. I know of several examples where this same story has been played out for friends and a very special loved one. It’s too bad that SSRI’s didn’t help you, why not try some homeopathy? I look at that as anachronistic medicine, but I also know of some loved ones who also swear by it (these are people who reject pharmaceuticals).

    Either way, I hope you find something that works, because I know from experience that without proper help the confusion and anxiety can be quite scary and frustrating, which can lead to some horrible (and sometimes vomit-inducing) thoughts.

    • Phillip

      Velut arbor ævo. This is your school’s motto. In our 21st Century let it be translated as “As a tree through the ages”.

      I understand my writing may be hard to follow. The word “unquenchable” definitely should have been edited. Otherwise, I am sorry you found some parts mysterious. But that you find it inappropriate for “a large audience”: not my problem, Mr Savage; though I am very thankful to consider your opinion, to be sure. No doubt it is the opinion of many.

      On the other note, I’m very glad the therapy you received dealt satisfactorily with the scary and frustrating confusion and anxiety you experienced. But before you dismiss Big Pharma as paranoia, please don’t dismiss the families who mourn their loved ones who have taken their lives because they did not receive adequate therapy to complement the drugs they were prescribed. The Star has an on-going exclusive on ADHD drugs – where my writing is too burdensome to deal with, please take some time to read their stories. “Generation XR” on youtbue can also be very thought-provoking.

      To be clear, I am not doubting these drugs have value. What I am asserting, what I have been asserting, what I will continue to assert unless I am shown a more persuasive argument, is this: these drugs are rampantly prescribed negligently, and yes, I do assert it is in order to maximize a profit for those who produce the drugs. Some people, like you I suppose, may be lucky to have very good doctors who take very good care of their patients. Unfortunately I highly doubt this is the case with the many patients. But don’t take my word for it. Dr Healy, a very well respected and credible pharma-psychiatrist, suggested on the Agenda with Steve Paikin that half of prescriptions are unnecessary. You can take his word, or not. You can take my word, or not. Either way, I really do appreciate your continued input, and I think we can all agree that what we need is to see more open dialogue, and I know it’s not easy. I think Socrates was condemned to drink the hemlock for talking, actually, no?

      • Darren Savage

        Mr. Niedzielski,

        My sincere thanks for your kind words and concern. If my memory serves me right, yes, Socrates did drink hemlock for talking too much. You’re no Socrates, though.

        I have watched “Generation RX” on Netflix. It was a great documentary and raised some interesting points. It was however, a documentary about the over prescription of drugs related to children and the dangers of long-term exposure to those powerful drugs. Few could doubt the adverse effects of such exposure
        over a long period of time. But where does this connect to your experience of being prescribed anti-depressants in your teenage years? Are you “dropping out of school” because some kids are getting prescribed Ritalin at an early age? How does this connect to our university? What is your point? ADHD drugs and anti-depressants are two different things.

        The writers of “Generation RX” called attention to some things that should be on our radars. So did the 9/11 conspiracy theorists who wrote “Loose Change”. In both instances I came away with plenty to think about. It was only after some thinking that I realized that in each documentary, the producers/writers chose to exploit individual instances and attempted to make them representative of the whole. Isolated incidents were strung together loosely to make a somewhat compelling narrative.

        I’m going from memory here, so please give me some leeway. I remember in “Generation RX” how they frequently returned to the instance of a guy who stabbed his father while on Prozac and then was sent to a psychiatric hospital where he — the son, of course — was beaten and subsequently took his own life. But there is more at play in this situation than Prozac. Moreover, the writers continued to display clips from the Columbine shooting while never actually making a connection to the shooters being on anti-depressants. They also cited information from a conference that was roughly 10 years removed from the
        production of the documentary as well as used data on Ritalin from the late 80s and early 90s. It would seem they were a little behind the times. As are you, apparently: In this 21st century of ours psychiatry – yes, with some lacking areas (like all other practices) – has overcome the barrier of credibility you
        seem to have arbitrarily imposed.

        Unfortunately for you, if you are trying to make a point, it should be understandable to a large audience; here ‘large audience’ simply means someone other than you. Socrates was concise and far from esoteric. It helps when trying to persuade others.

        Now,”please don’t dismiss the families who mourn their loved ones who have taken their lives because they did not receive adequate therapy to complement the drugs they were prescribed.” I did nothing of the sort. Nor would I. Is the issue the
        drugs that are prescribed or the therapy that people are not getting? You are all over the map. There are also plenty of suicides committed by people who have not touched a pharmaceutical drug.

        I’ll look into the Toronto Star series. But maybe you could have referenced that in your letter. I’ll look into Dr. Healy. None of this was mentioned in your original letter. You seemed more occupied with churning out an extended metaphor based off of my school’s Latin motto…(side note: How does the school’s 19th C. motto connect with any of this? Are we, the students, the “flower of society”? Is it our university? No, we’re a tree, right? I’m lost.) The edits extend beyond “unquenchable”. In that paragraph alone you have: “wrath” “rumblings of multitudes” and you asserted that TAs are “unqualified drones” and those of us who do not accept your position are “immature and naive”. It’s all smoke and no fire; rhetoric with no substance.

        How would you have been better served after your two one-hour sessions? Some more sessions? That’s costly stuff. Continue to make your assertions. Just don’t insult the rest of us while you’re at it. And, most importantly, gather some evidence for your
        assertion that drugs are “rampantly prescribed negligently”. There’s a reason this argument you put forth has yet to gain traction and it has nothing to do with a blind populous who is both “immature and naive”.

        Finally, is this article ( http://www.news.utoronto.ca/fraser-mustard-institute-human-development ) from earlier this year a piece of propaganda that our university has put out to mask the malicious intentions of their true goal to control our minds with the aid of Big Pharma?

  • Robert L.

    Maybe you are over thinking things and in doing so you don’t communicate half of your thoughts which makes it difficult for others to understand you. I think you have two options: take the prescribed medication that will slow down your thought process which will make you more like the populous, or continue with your current state and express how you loathe the world that cannot understand you in one way or another. But your frustration with the world does not justify abandoning your chance at having a degree. You’ve worked so hard at it already and now you can’t even take the credit for it. Just don’t be rash, unless you can afford to make much less money than you would with a degree. But if you’re filthy rich then go ahead and drop out

    • Phillip

      what do you mean, “I loathe the world that cannot understand me one way or another”?

    • Phillip

      I may as well ask you as well, what do you mean “more like the populous”? Because to say the populous thinks “slower than I do” means nothing to my fast thinking brain, and it would really help me if you instructed me as to what you mean.

      Pray tell me then, how does the populous think? You must have a great deal of knowledge to be acquainted with how the populous thinks; I see a great store of knowledge and wisdom in you. Then please instruct me. Just remember to take it slowly. Try not to to write too many things for my fast thinking brain, but give me an exact answer to this exact question, “How does the populous think?”

      For I would like to think well, and if the populous thinks well, I would forever be in your debt if you could teach me how to think well as well, my good man.