It wasn’t until Friday night that I realized I hadn’t been taking care of myself. Until then, I just thought it was a rough few weeks. A rough couple of months. A rough semester.
Plenty of people I know were also having “off” semesters — boring, draining, confusing, just overall off-putting. I attributed my feelings to some universal disruption that was causing everyone to feel weird.
And then, next thing I knew, I was sobbing on my roommates bed — “couldn’t breathe” sobbing. I was crying over absolutely nothing, and absolutely everything. I had finally collapsed under the weight of my own emotions and I was lucky enough to have some good friends by my side. In the moment I fell apart, I realized it was because I had been putting no effort into keeping myself together — I was always just napping.
This was my regular Monday-Wednesday-Friday routine for the semester:
6:40 a.m. — Wake up (not mentally.)
7:15 a.m. — Get on the bus.
8 a.m. — Try to pay attention in my soil science class.
9 a.m. — Go to work and drown in dishes and boredom.
11 a.m. — Fall asleep in physics class and genuinely feel bad about it.
12 p.m. — Take the bus home.
12:30 p.m. — Sleep for hours
The fact that I did this every single day, without fail, didn’t strike me as a problem. I justified it by telling myself “it’s OK, I had an 8 a.m. class,” or “There’s nothing else to do,” or “I didn’t get enough sleep last night.”
Well, there’s always something else to do — I just didn’t want to do it. I would put off homework, decide I didn’t need to study, tell myself I could eat lunch later, etc. I began to prioritize sleeping as more important than my actual life. It wasn’t depression, at least not yet. But it sure did feel like the beginning of a downward slope into what I went through roughly one year ago — mild depression without even knowing it.
I began to notice I could no longer make it through a day without taking a nap — no matter how well I slept the night before. It was a routine, a habit, an addiction and I had to do it in order to be happy. Because that’s what I was… right? I was happy?
Deep down I knew I wasn’t, but I sure as hell didn’t think depriving myself of sleep was going to make me any happier. So I decided to look at any possible external causes and I found my friends. Or rather, the instability I had been feeling with them since the beginning of the semester.
There was stress to find housing for our senior year — we decided to move closer to campus/downtown so we could better enjoy our lovable city before we graduate. But we couldn’t find a place that would fit us all, and that induced immense stress, the issue of splitting up being the largest stress-induced problem we faced.
There was talking behind backs, there was deciding who didn’t want to live with who, there was lying, there was deceiving and there was a serious decline in trust. This tested us and some of us held on to each other more tightly than others. Our little friend family started to feel more like a battleground and people were choosing sides, myself included. The worst part was that not everyone was even aware it was happening.
It was awful. I am the kind of person that makes very meaningful, but very few, lasting relationships. I am an introverted extrovert, and I have social anxiety, so it’s not exactly easy for me to create quick, purely for fun friendships with people I just meet in class or at work. My friend family was really all I had and I loved them, but they seemed unreliable and I didn’t know what to do.
So I took naps and funneled all of my waking energy into my friends. I spent no time on myself. I did nothing I enjoy. I became less and less invested in my own commitments. I stopped going to some of my classes and I found that even my horseback riding was struggling. And I seriously took a whole lot of naps.
And this continued to grow worse and worse until finally, on Friday night, my mind and body had enough. I was crying over nothing and everything at the same time. And it was so terrible and so wonderful. I laid in bed between my two friends as my world came tumbling down and they loved me through it.
It was exactly what I needed. It made me understand I cannot get through these external problems if I am not taking care of my internal ones first.
Now, instead of taking a nap I make myself do something. Anything. Sometimes I just take a shower, sometimes go for a walk, or even just eat and watch TV. I am reading and writing again. I picked up my film camera for the first time in months, even though I can’t develop for another month or so. I am preparing for a trip to Indonesia that will reignite my love for nature and motivate me to do well in my classes. I still take the occasional nap (what college student doesn’t,) but I don’t have the same dependency as before.
I am remembering that my relationship with myself is the most important thing. Just because I don’t have a bad relationship with myself doesn’t mean I have a good one either. For these past few months I didn’t even have a relationship with myself. But now I’m working on it.