Rewind the tape of life a couple of months: I wake up in my beautiful room in Munich, quickly check some messages and emails, jump out from under the covers, let the window shade snap against the ceiling, grin at the sun (or make a face at the rain), jump in the shower, get dressed, have breakfast and I’m ready to go in 45 minutes. After my 30-minute train “commute” to uni, I eagerly greet the sun as I climb the escalator from the metro to the surface. I’m always super organized and am generally able to get shit done. I prepare for lectures and go over my notes afterwards. I get assignments done on time and they are perfect to my standards. I generally feel like a happy person, I go out for amazing food with my friends, I drive home on the weekend to see my family and our amazing dog. Again, I can get shit done, if I really want to. This is not to say my life at this point is perfect and I’m always a happy, sunny person – but let’s flash forward to today.
The past weeks I have not been able to get anything done, I have never before procrastinated this bad. I avoid doing my readings by wasting time on my phone, and the thing that surprises me the most is that I don’t even care. I used to get anxiety attacks about reading things on time and getting assignments done perfectly. Now I just don’t seem to give a shit. Why?! I mean, I think it’s great that I don’t get as much anxiety over uni work at the moment, but I really didn’t want it to dip into the other extreme? I’m on exchange in Canada right now, I should be having the time of my life, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I should be getting everything out of it that I can – instead I spend the days sitting in bed avoiding readings and skimming social media. This is nuts! The only way I can explain this is by finally facing the fact that I probably have depression and am currently facing a super annoying depressive episode at the most inconvenient time possible.
The worst thing is, I broke up with my girlfriend last week because I felt like our temporarily long-distance relationship (Canada – South Africa, how much further away from each other can you get?) was sapping my energy and not providing enough happiness for me at the same time. I broke up to fully concentrate on Canada and make the best of it. Only that didn’t do shit. I probably made the so far worst mistake of my life because I failed to recognize that the source of my lack of energy and bleak look on life and general feeling of “meeeh I just don’t really care about anything anymore” was not our relationship, but fucking depression. And that thing is nasty, too, toying with my mind and planting thoughts in my head like “You never loved your girlfriend, it’s been an illusion all this time”. Or “You should be strong enough to handle this on your own, you don’t need help, only failures can’t pull themselves out of it on their own.”
One of my biggest problems with it is that I’m a super rational person. If I can’t rationally explain something, it’s hard for me to make sense of it. And I just can’t rationally explain these thoughts and feelings. From a rational perspective, I should be the happiest person on earth: I have the best friends anyone could wish for and super supportive parents on top of that. I had the sweetest and most loving girlfriend, she always had my back and I could talk to her about anything. We had a super deep connection, of the kind that I have never experienced with another human being, ever. My amazing home university sent me on exchange to an equally amazing university in Canada, I’ve been planning this for over a year, and now I’m finally here and I love my courses and I’m involved in different clubs and I’ve already made friends that I know are going to stick for life. Just spelling out all the amazing things that are actually happening to me right now make my current feelings and thoughts appear even more silly. Because from a rational perspective, everything is awesome, right?
So I can’t explain where these negative feelings are coming from, but at the same time I feel like I have to listen to them. Everybody’s always talking about being in tune with your body and listening to figure out what’s potentially going wrong. So I generally take my thoughts and feelings very seriously. But this now has me thinking that the thoughts depression is pounding into my head are actually coming from myself. I have a hard time separating myself from the illness – on the other hand, it really is a product of my brain, right? I’m obviously just super confused. Another thing is, I don’t want to use my depression to somehow justify my actions, along the lines of “Oh that wasn’t really me, it was my depression that broke up with my girlfriend.” But would I really have broken up with her if I would have been “in my right mind”, not influenced by this thing that is apparently a mental illness and on top of that really difficult to grasp?
Today was the first day in weeks that I actually felt productive. I woke up to my alarm at a reasonable time, spent too much time on my phone, as always, managed to shower and clean up (sort of), eat breakfast and kicked my butt out of my room two hours after waking up. I made an appointment with a counselor today – correct, I actually made it all the way down the steps of Maggie Benston Center to Health and Counseling Services without keeling over, stated my business, filled out the paper work, got an appointment and got out of there without embarrassing myself or acting stupid or running away. Then I figured out the automatic staplers in the library, stapled and hole-punched a bunch of papers, printed my ballot for the election in November, filled it out, scanned it and sent it. Went to my courses and back to the library after that, finally finished some readings I had been avoiding all week – I haven’t gotten this much done in days!
But now I’m back to sitting in my bed avoiding the next readings, which are due tomorrow by the way, but I really don’t care for some reason. I apparently also couldn’t care less that I have a presentation the day after tomorrow. Under “normal” circumstances I would be absolutely freaking out right now (yay anxiety, but that’s a different topic). Instead I’m writing blog posts trying to make sense of all of this. And at the same time there’s that awful little voice in my head telling me that what I did today was not enough, because have you even seen your to do list and all the work piling up? You’re such a failure for not being able to pull yourself out of this on your own! Get a grip on your life, will you? Just look on the bright side, it’s so easy to do, you just lack self-discipline because here you still are, doing nothing, wasting your precious life.
Seriously, I hope my counselor knows a way out, because this is just so fucked up.