Saturday, April 15, 2017

Ramblings & Repetition

Recovery sucks.

My brain is in anguish, drowning in a dense, suffocating mudslide that is also on fire. I can only hope to slog through the rest of this semester and stay alive in spite of my brain's overwhelming drive from time to time to fling itself over the Golden Gate Bridge. I can't focus in class and I can't focus on assignments as my brain is screaming at me for no apparent reason. The crisis counselor I've been seeing says it's ok to let myself stop, but the rest of the world isn't stopping. Time is rapidly barreling towards the end of the semester and there's no way to get that time back. I feel like I am doing everything that I can, but it's not enough, at least not enough to bring me back to the level of functionality I had before spring break.

Overwhelming, this has been an incredibly frustrating experience, dealing with a brain that is incapable of chemical homeostasis. It's like working on a really old, really slow computer. Everything lags and gets stuck (coincidentally, my computer has been really slow lately, which leads me to use it as an apt metaphor). Closing some of the applications definitely would help, but I want to be able to process all of those activities without lag, which might require an upgrade in software or additional parts, but I don't know what the problem really is. I don't know why I feel like I want to die. To some degree, I am aware that this is not what I really want. The thing is, none of this is new. I've dealt with all of this before. Maybe it's regular burnout from an intense semester or an intense year. Again, I don't know what the problem is, but I'm frustrated by my apparent lack of progress. I hate the idea of repeating my mistakes. I looked through some old posts dealing with mental health and found that I'm feeling the exact same thing now as I was two years ago, down to the structure of the title of that post.

Still, I have to recognize that I have made a lot of progress in my ability to self care. I've developed a structure for my life to function in the event of a depressive episode: a schedule for showering so I can still clean myself even when I don't feel like it — Monday-Wednesday-Friday morning, no questions asked, get up and get in the shower; meal prepping: throw pasta into a pot of boiling water, chop up a bunch of veggies and dump them into a sauce; a post-it note with my morning routine written down on it so I don't have to think about what I'm doing, just check them off the list; "generic outfits" so I don't have to think about what I want to wear; phone reminders to tell me what I have for the day so I know when and where to drag myself to go to my classes. It is so much effort to maintain the willpower to keep fighting, to continue to exist in a semi-normal state, even without wanting to. I feel like I deserve some kind of reward for staying alive, but there's no reward for the bare minimum of existence. The only satisfaction I can claim is the stubborn idea that I am special enough to refuse to let my mental health and depression destroy my life, in spite of everything.

I'm actively fighting with every little bit of spite I can muster. This time around, recovery has taken the form of wandering. Every time I feel like I can't do anything, instead of laying around in bed feeling choked on the dry boredom of life, I've been getting out and walking around town. It helps to have exercise clothes so I feel more put together and enabled to be comfortably active. Last night, I wandered into an ASUC elections tabulation ceremony on Lower Sproul. I bumped into a lot of friends, and for a few hours I felt alive again. In a way, I'm heaping stimulus on my brain hoping that overwhelming sensory input can forcibly push it into a functioning state. I've been blasting my eardrums with intense music hoping that the vibrations can restore a broken piece into place. I'm one step short of breaking into a hospital and giving myself a shot of adrenaline to kick my brain into gear. I can still recall the moments when every fiber and sinew of my being relished the zeal of life, and I want to feel that again.

In the meantime, I've realized that my grades will probably take a hit this semester, but I've made my peace with that. In doing so, I'm reevaluating my entire perspective toward college. At face value, in order to be conferred a qualification, students are processed through an impersonal system of evaluations — do everything right and be rewarded with a degree to achieve your goals. If I ever wanted to change the world, I'm realizing that the cards I've been dealt (mental health-wise) only allow me to do so much. My dreams aren't realistic. I am a tiny speck of dust raging at the universe. If this is the game, then I don't want to play it anymore. Alternatively, if college is a ladder up to a helicopter that will whisk me away from my parents forever, what am I actually going to need after that to be a well-balanced individual? There are other merits of the college experience that I intend to focus on now. Every burnout is a warning sign to recognize that I need to let myself be an imperfect human and deal with the mundane things that take more time than I think I need: eating, traveling, resting, entertainment, hobbies, and so many other things I've neglected in favor of 100% productivity. Optimistically, I've been receiving a lot of good news in terms of internships, activities, and other avenues to success for next semester. That doesn't change the fact that I'm struggling a lot right now, but at least it's something to look forward to. ◊

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