Posted in Life

Anxiety, Suicide, and Where I’ve Been

Hello.

It’s been a while.  If anyone reading this is new here, my name is Cammie, I love the world, and I made this blog as a space to put my musings.  I haven’t posted anything here for over two months. This is that story.

This fall came with a lot of changes, transferring colleges, changing my major, starting a new job, moving to a new state, all those fun things that seem to keep happening at this stage of life.  Overall these changes were very good for me, and I was excited and so ready to take off. I’m not a very patient person. I mapped out my courses, started planning grad school, charted career paths, all of my biggest dreams and goals, and it was deeply inspiring … and yet, somehow deeply discouraging.  There were my aspirations hanging above me, and there I was, trudging through just another basic day. Somehow the dream didn’t translate. I’m sure we’ve all experienced some form of this. You get yourself so pumped up over a new project, listen to all the motivational quotes, feel ready to conquer everything.  But after being continually confronted with the the mundane daily drudge, your motivation goes stale.

To an extent, I think that’s how life just is.  Our big benchmark moments and dreams are rarely felt in the day to day grind.  The day to day is full of frozen leftovers, laundry, spam email, mismatched socks, and plans to be better someday.  This fall I was in my ideal major at a great college, but that wasn’t my everyday reality. Each day was wake up to the alarm, get dressed in the dark throw in a half hour of homework, speed walk through the cold, try to stay awake through lecture, try to tutor frustrated students, throw together some food, collapse on the couch with a laptop and a few textbooks, maybe have some social interaction, retire to bed.  Rinse and repeat. My health has never been great, but it declined even more. Somehow in the wash of all of this, I was forced to confront the mental health issues I’d been stubbornly ignoring for several years. I saw myself going through rapid cycles between panicking that I wasn’t productive enough and feeling so deeply sad and overwhelmed that I was effectively paralyzed. I had my first panic attack, which left me more rattled and unsettled than I’d thought possible, and I felt on the verge of another for weeks after.

A few weeks before finals, a girl on my campus killed herself by jumping off of a fourth floor balcony.  The atmosphere on campus was subdued for the rest of the semester, a weird mix of sadness and vulnerability and stress and slight fear.  My roommate was on suicide watch, and one of my neighbors, and probably several others I didn’t know about. So many nights were spent in tearful conversations, falling against each other on our cheap couch and staring into the void of the future.  The weather went colder, the skies went darker, the Christmas slogans and carols around us felt somehow unreal and removed.

This sounds very melodramatic as I’m writing it out, but that’s how we felt.  I knew that this sort of thing happens to everyone. We all hit slumps and have down days, and they stink.  I’d heard that so many times, almost always followed up by a statement about the need to keep going and how good times will come.  Logically, we all know that dark days don’t last forever, and we know that we’ll be okay. But it doesn’t feel that way in the moment, when you’re stuck in the everyday drag.  The negativity isn’t removed as part of someone’s motivational speech, it’s right here, yelling in your face. When you feel both anxiety and depression, you’re torn between the constant panic that you’re ruining everything and the dragging weight of sadness and self-loathing, which can quickly lead you down a spiral of self-fulfilling prophecy.

Don’t worry about me, I’ve started counseling and the break has been very good for me.  And in a way, this semester has been good for me. The hard times have a way of increasing our humanity and making us softer.

Moving forward I think things will continue improving.  I’m learning better ways to deal with stress, and my schedule next semester will be less busy.  I’m not sure where this blog is going to go, but I do want to get back into it. I anticipate making a few more changes to my setup, and probably getting on a schedule of posting once a week.  Writing used to be a source of peace and renewal for me, and I’m hoping that it can be that way again.

I want to end by saying this.  If anyone reading this has recognized themselves in this story, or is going through a hard time right now, or has thought about suicide, I want you to know that you’ll be okay.  There are so many things that you can’t control, but what you can control is how you react and fight back, even if it feels like fighting against yourself. There is still part of you that’s innocent and happy and whole, even if it feels like a distant memory.  Find things that make you happy, even if they’re little, and find people who care about you. If you can’t think of anyone, please drop a comment and I will talk to you anytime you need it. I really mean that. We all need each other, and we’re all benefited by coming together.

“You’ll have moments when you feel like a lion, and moments when you feel like a mouse.  Just know that no matter how you feel, you still have a heartbeat and a soul worthy of love, so learn to roar even when you feel small, because you are more than the feelings you have.”

–T.B. LaBerge

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Author:

I am a STEM student, aspiring artist, self-taught writer, and and lover of the natural world.

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