|^ Looking up on a cloudy day in one of my favorite places in Moscow, Idler's Rest ^|
When I was in high school I was stretched thin. I was at school from 6:30 AM to 5:00 PM almost every single day. I took three or four AP classes every year as well as being highly involved in two or three choirs. I was a board member for key club. I was president of my school's seminary. I played varsity lacrosse. I averaged 3-4 hours of sleep every single night and I was exhausted every single day. To top it off, I had few friends and I suffered from anxiety and depression and tried desperately to hide it from everyone. People asked me often why I didn't just quit one of my extracurriculars. I never saw that as an option. I survived.
By the time graduation came, I was so burnt out. That whole time in my life (most of my senior year of HS) is very much a blur to me now that it makes me mad sometimes. My depression was so severe that I felt numb all the time and all the days seemed the same to me. I remember crying during the graduation ceremony, with strangers all around me, not because I was sad it was over or because I was happy to be done but because I didn't feel anything and I was so afraid of what to do now.
College acceptance, the thing I had worked towards so dutifully for four years, was the furthest thing from my mind. Somehow my sister convinced me that I should move to Moscow, Idaho (where she lived) and go to the University of Idaho. Bless her, she was always trying to look out for me. I applied in the middle of July and moved the second week of August. When I was 18, I left home with a brand new bank account with no amount of money in it but promise of student loans due to a last minute decision to move north for school. I don't know what made me decide such a rash decision was a good idea. More than anything I think I wanted a way out and a clean slate.
|^ The fist pictures I took at U of I, with my mom (left) and sister (right), 2009. ^|
But I was naive and unaware of a lot of what being on my own would mean. I tried to learn as I went along. And I thought I did a pretty good job. I was proud of myself for being able to manage a tight budget with no previous experience. I didn't live on campus, which was another mistake, as it allowed me to continue to alienate and isolate myself. But I loved Moscow and explored it often on my own. I hated my classes. I tried really really hard to be happy.
My biggest mistake was believing that I could move somewhere and leave all of my problems behind. Depression tagged right along with me. Sitting through boring, monotonous low level lectures, which did nothing for me intellectually, became increasingly more difficult to wake up for. I always did the assignments/homework, staying up all night to do so, just as I had learned to do. But it would take hours of working up confidence to go to campus to turn it in; sometimes I couldn't find the strength to do that. I ignored worried emails from professors. I ignored phone calls from everyone. I knew I had people who cared about me but I couldn't be honest about what I was going through and I couldn't bring myself to give half-assed excuses. I was embarrassed.
That should have been a sign to get help or make a change, but depression rarely works that way. Things only got worse for me for quite awhile. Things spiraled downward very quickly. I lived in Moscow for three, almost four years but I only like to remember the last one. I won't go into detail about everything I went through for it is far too personal and something I am not yet willing to share publicly. It is always difficult for me to talk about; I feel very vulnerable when doing so. I hope sharing at least this much helps you gain some insight into what I went through.
I have a lot to forgive myself for. I need to forgive myself for stretching myself so thin. I need to forgive myself for being so demanding of my accomplishments and my time. I need to forgive myself for not being comfortable enough to allow for failure. I need to forgive myself for not making all the right decisions. I need to forgive myself for failing. I need to forgive myself for not being perfect, for being my biggest critic. I need to forgive myself for not allowing myself to be a human being, full of faults. I need to forgive myself for all the days I lost. I need to forgive myself for the bad things I told myself. I need to forgive myself for the wounds. And I still need to heal.
If you suffer from depression or anxiety, please know that there are people that care about you. Know that I understand that you may not want to hear that. I have been there. Sometimes I fall back there. I am always available to talk via email (which can be found on my contact page).
See my previous answers for 30 Days of Truth here, and the original prompts from lovely Amber here.