Recent Graduate Remembers How High School Almost Killed Her
Nostalgia has enveloped my brain synapses and I find myself reflecting on my high school journey less than a month after I have graduated.
High school is the universe’s anointed crucible of teen angst and insecurity, freewheeling hormones, reckless substance abuse, and excessive homework intended to curtail the effects of the aforementioned. It is no surprise studies by the National Institute of Mental Health found 11.4% of adolescents aged 12 to 17 suffered at least one major depressive episode in the last year. I am blessed to have been one of those statistics that has lived to look back on the entire event and say
During my four years in this publicly funded hellhole I struggled with depression, anxiety, and anorexia. It wasn’t until I was 45 pounds underweight with a heart rate below 50 bpm that I was placed in a mental center that addressed the deep rooted mental illnesses that had been aggravated by my high school and home environment of stress and fear. With a year and a half under my belt of settling into my new mental state of peace and security, I have discovered archives of how it felt to be 16 and ready to die.
There is a rock in my gut. This rock seems to be afraid of being lonely. How ironic that I love to spend time alone yet when I feel lonely I can’t breathe and the universe seems to spin faster and faster and somehow leave me behind to fade away into dust. I crave the hand of someone who is solid and connected to the universe and hold me close to keep me from being swept away. What’s the difference between alone and lonely? Loneliness has a twinge of helplessness because it’s not a chosen state. If I’m lonely its understood that I did not choose to be this way and am wanting human contact. If I am alone it temporary and changeable. I can control my level of social involvement. I am so afraid.
Sometimes its hard to not want to fall in bed and lay in the crummy feeling, as your body decomposes into an unrecognizable pile of ache and emptiness. You might look like a skeleton with bones made of molasses that slowly melt into the bed, losing any shape that would identify you as yourself. How quickly misery can swallow the soul in a tidal wave of hopelessness.
Why are we so vulnerable to feelings of futility? Maybe because our souls are eternal, but our bodies are not. Our flesh gets a small taste of infinity, so when something on earth emulates this eternal quality our soul is overwhelmed. Like when love seems forever or pain seems unending. Our souls are triggered by the two spiritual opposites and cause emotions that feel eternal. Idk.
On Depression 2
Why do I get stuck in these feelings of clammy sadness with imploding cheekbones, heavy shoulders, dissolving limbs. I can only describe it as melting into viscous pool. I am too tired to move and too depressed to care. Life tackles me like a linebacker and piledrives me into the ground as I stare blankly wondering how I ended up in the floor. Why is it so hard? To raise my rock heavy arms. To push the attacking weight off. They say happiness is like a butterfly that alights on us if we stand still. Why is sadness like an elephant squashing our lungs and heart until the effort to breathe and beat is too much to bear?
These records are foreign to me now. It is as someone else borrowed my brain to transcribe their misery.
As a graduation present to myself I leave this last record on what I’ve learned.
On Life and Recovery
There must be something significant about life in the effort. The strength to get up and fight. The strength to stop and wait. It seems whatever we don’t want to do is what we must. Through the tension we learn bravery and perseverance and patience and contentment. And faith. We have to believe in our value to struggle to get what we believe we deserve. So maybe that’s how you self care. By fighting the sadness and waiting for the happiness. It’s hard. It’s supposed to be because it’s important. You are important. You are worth the struggle. Only after falling can you feel the incredible elation of rising again. The wind catches underneath your wings and suddenly you feel life pulling you up. It still takes hard work to flap those magnificent wings, but now the world is on your side and life is a constant force at your back propelling you to greater heights as long as you don’t resist.