It crept up slowly this time. I stopped going to class, stopped turning in work when it was due. This had consequences that, although obvious, made me feel much worse. Panic rose in my chest like bile in my stomach, but I didn’t tell anyone. I’d convinced myself before leaving for school that when my environment changed so would my circumstances, that a change of scenery was all I needed to finally be normal, to enjoy life without the threat of another failure of my own brain chemistry. I shrugged off my support system like a winter coat. It’s summer now, I rationalized, I don’t need them anymore. Later, when winter descended and I returned to my hometown earlier than planned, a friend would accuse me of thinking I was Superman.
I went back home feeling defeated. The sudden change of geography reinforced the point that I was, in fact, not a super hero. I finished the semester from home, only returning to campus for one exam and to retrieve some of the stuff I’d left behind the first time I left: a blanket, a hairbrush, socks, a few days’ worth of laundry left in a pile on the floor.
To me, there’s something comforting about facing a demon I’ve met before. I’m trying to reap lessons from this; the pain of knowing the ways in which I failed and the feeling that maybe college isn’t for me despite the overwhelming desire to be there. I’m still struggling; my bed goes unmade, my hair unbrushed, my laundry remains in the basket. I know to reach out by now; my silence is a flaw I can no longer blame on ignorance. The belief that others do not care is a figment of my imagination. Still, though, I have a sinking feeling that it isn’t.
I wish that I could deal with this on my own, retreat within myself and come out with the clarity and perspective that I’m struggling to find. I’ve seen the toll that this all takes on the people that I love, and watching them hurt for me is enough to make me want to isolate myself for everyone else’s sake. I’m trying to fight this, to lean into the love that others offer me so that I can grow past this. It’s as difficult as you can imagine for someone who struggles to open up and accept help. I’m trying my best to be vulnerable. I’ve learned that it’s the only thing that can save me from myself.
I’ve seen others choose a word that they want to carry them through the new year. Mine for 2019 is hope.