It's often talked about that in college we neglect our mental health. We try to deny this, yet it always seems to get the best of us at the worst times and there is just no denying the facts. As someone who has dealt with mental illness since middle school, there's no denying that college (plus life in general) can easily push me over the edge sometimes.
Last week, I had one of those weeks. One of those weeks where you think it can't get worse.. but then it does.. again.. and again. One of those weeks where you question why a God would ever put you through this? And the worst part about it all, was that everything that was happening, I had no control over. There was nothing I could do to change it; I just had to accept all that was happening and move on.
With things piling on, one after the other, I realized I wasn't giving myself time to cope, process, and heal, and by doing this, I was only making it worse.
I'm naturally an introvert — and I mean, a big introvert. I am not a people person and I spent almost all my time leading up to college, alone. I never really had friends. And those times when I did have a friend, I had three times more alone time than I did time with them.
When I came to college, that all changed.
When I came to college, I was surrounded by people — lots of people. When I became an RA, in an attempt to become more extroverted, I found myself getting a lot less alone time. And when I had finally made a solid group of friends, ontop of being an RA, living in a dorm, and being in college, my alone time become essentially non-existing.
Now, what I've found out time and time again, is that I NEED alone time. If I don't get more alone time than I do social time, it's only a matter of time before I lose it, absolutely lose it. Jump in my car with two days worth of clothes and attempt to flee the state kind of lose it. (Yes, this did happen.) Still, I often lose track of this and my fundamental need for alone time until I'm having one of the I'm-absolutely-losing-it moments. Yes, it's as bad as it sounds.
So last week, when I had one of those moment, I said, "F*ck it, I don't want to talk to anybody." I spent Monday mad and completely alone, ignoring everyone. It was bliss, absolute bliss. I realized what I really needed was to spend a lot of time alone, processing what was going on and how I wanted to go about it.
I found I had depending so much on my friends in this time of crisis and how they assessed the situations I was going through, that I forgot to actually think about the situations for myself. I was depending so much on what they said they would do in the situation, that I neglected to think about how I really wanted to go about it. When I did think about how I wanted to go about it, if they said it was a bad idea or something they wouldn't do, I just wouldn't do it. Instead of trusting that their way of handling such a situation is the best way, I should have been going about it the way that was best for me and in a way that would help me the most.
As a life-long introvert, when I finally made friends, I didn't know how to handle them. I didn't know what to do with all these people's thoughts and opinions on things that I was going through when I would open up to them. As someone who has never had an extra set of opinions to help her through such situations, I found myself taking their opinions and thoughts as the holy-grail. Stemming from my low self-esteem, it isn't shocking that I found anyone to be more right than me. I found that by accepting all of their opinions all the time, I lost sight of the fact that my opinion also mattered, that everyone is different, everyone handles things and thinks about things differently, and that what helps me the most is what I should be doing.
Even if someone thinks going about something in a certain way won't help me, if I think it is best for me and will help me accept and move on, that's what I should be doing. Everyone copes and grieves differently and I needed to allow myself to do that the way that works for me.
So, deep breath in, deep breath out. I decided to take a vacation from school and a vacation from people. I didn't have money to go anywhere but I did have a bed that I could stay in all week.
I spent the week in my room, only attending mandatory classes, not responding to my phone, and limiting my human interaction to only myself. Though many may find this a bad idea, I knew I needed it; I needed a system reset.
It was the best damn decision I have ever made.
I found myself being more productive and catching up on things I had been putting off. I allowed myself time to relax when I needed to relax and didn't push myself to do more than what my mental state could handle. I found myself gaining some self-confidence back and thinking for myself and doing things that would help me heal from the situation. I started to see some light at the end of the tunnel.
Though my progress is not complete, it has sure made a huge leap. I will continue to work on spending more time alone than I do with others as that is what my body and mind need most.
So when you feel too overwhelmed or like you have no space alone to breathe, don't hesitate to step away for a minute, an hour, or even a few days. Don't be afraid to take a staycation and give your mind a much-needed rest.
There's no better time to start feeling better than right now.