To those reading this, you're probably wondered what happened. The amount of articles posted significantly dropped to become nonexistent. I stopped posting on social media, and I also decreased the amount of time I spent on social networks. From an outsider's point-of-view, it would seem as if I disappeared completely.
I forgot to put myself first.
I got swept up in my priorities: school and work. It is midterm season after all, isn't that normal? Yes, it is completely normal to lock yourself in your room or the library, study, and have no social life. But, there is a catch to this seemingly normal story: I became too wrapped up. I felt as if I was being pulled into multiple directions; stretched so far to the point of breaking.
Then, I broke.
Being a senior in college balancing academics, work, social relationships, as well as staying healthy by exercising and eating well is not as easy as it sounds. I've always been busy; it's just how I operate. I thought, "This is normal. I am always one to be running around like a chicken with its head cut off. I will be fine." Unfortunately, it caught up to me.
The fear of the future set in. The pressures of accelerated nursing school expectations started caving in when I would be studying for exams. I started to doubt my ability to succeed. "What if I do poorly on this exam?" "I'm not going to get into nursing school no matter how hard I try," "My GPA is never going to be good enough," "I'm stuck and I don't know how to fix it," "I feel like I'm not eating and exercising enough." These are only a sample of negative thoughts dancing in my head.
The thoughts controlled my ability to breathe. I lost it. Every breath felt short. I was deprived. The thoughts kept me up at night, so I couldn't sleep. Yet during the day, I felt as if I was dragging through quicksand because of how fatigued I would be. I kept going because I had to, not because I had a choice.
When I had 3 exams in 24 hours, my body weight was consumed in caffeine and I ran on little sleep. I ate little, only enough to get by. "You can't eat just yet; you've got to be able to retain every little piece of information first," my mind would tell me. Application requirements and fear of being wait-listed was my appetite suppressant.
Weeks and weeks rolled by. I felt empty and consumed by everything. I was continually tense, and relaxation made me feel guilty. "I'm getting help, I'm not going to sink this time," I told myself. I was determined to keep myself afloat. I took it day-by-day, hour-by-hour, second-by-second.
It was a hard act having to mask the chaos inside by keeping my mouth shut. When someone would ask, "How are you?" I would say, "I'm busy, but I am okay." Why? I don't want people to worry about me. I know that the loved ones in my life have their own struggles and tasks to attend to. The last thing I wanted was to be a burden, so I decided to stay silent.
Staying silent and barely hanging on did not help me: it hurt me.
It set me back in a tailspin. I was delirious. It was unbearable. The anxiety was eating me alive. I was determined to not let myself sink again. So, I swallowed my pride and asked for more help.
Now, I know that everything will be okay eventually. A plan is set in place so that my quality-of-life improves. It includes ways to silence the pestering, annoying voices inside my head that nip at me. It will help things feel less debilitating. I will get my autonomy, sleep, and breathing back.
The moral of the story is this: I forgot to put myself first. I let my own thoughts get the best of me.
Don't forget to put yourself first. It's important. Mental health matters. It can affect every aspect of your life, whether you realize it or not. It's okay to not be okay, but it's not okay to be battling it alone. Know you're not in this fight alone. It is completely normal to have to seek therapy, take medication, or use other forms of mental health treatment.
Don't let the stigma around mental illness prevent you from seeking assistance. Everyone's got their own demons at the end of the day, some are just better at masking it than others, or they are in complete denial of them.
Take care of you, for you.