One of the hardest things about going through a crisis is feeling like you’re five years behind everyone.
Facebook is dangerous because people are getting engaged, Twitter is depressing because writers are finishing their manuscripts, and Instagram is a precarious combination of motivating and saddening because everyone has such beautiful lives! And they can take beautiful pictures with their high-quality iPhone cameras.
Meanwhile, I struggle to respond to the single email in my inbox.
I’ve been working on my personal website for weeks, but haven’t yet found the perfect font for my portfolio. I’ve watched a season and a half of “Arrow” in less than two weeks, and if anyone asks me why, it’s definitely because I’m waiting for my academic adviser to get back to me about a potential career change. Definitely.
Winter is hard on most people, but it’s harder on people who live in Minnesota, and even harder on Minnesotans with seasonal affective disorder. I can’t remember the last time I left the house. I was ready to go to therapy last week and talk about all the different anxieties in my brain that are vying for my attention, but then snow happened and driving became dangerous. I told my personal care assistant (PCA) that she could leave early and hopefully beat rush hour. Once she left, I brought up my calendar and regretfully deleted “therapy” from the day’s agenda.
Last night, my dad looked me in the eye and said, “Do whatever you have to do to get through this.” It’s something of a ritual between the two of us, advice he gifts me every year around this time. Don’t give up. Good things are coming. It won’t be this way forever. So, I queue up the next episode of “Arrow,” mess around with my website until 11:25 p.m. because I’m a perfectionist who needs everything to be just so, and pray every morning when I get up that I’ll have the grace to get through the day.
I’m in a holding pattern. Which is fine. I’m just getting antsy and trying very, very hard to be patient.
One of the most effective ways I know of distracting myself is spending time with the people I love. A week or so ago, I hung out with an old PCA for the first time in almost a year. She was the first PCA my family hired and happened to bear the brunt of my years-long depressive episode. I would stay up until 8 a.m. and sleep until 4 p.m. She sat in our darkened basement for most of her shift, waiting for me to wake up.
We call those long, aching months my vampire days. It’s a joke, but also not. I wasn’t really alive back then. If anything, it was akin to sleepwalking. I’ve lost so many memories to depression, but I remember feeling close to death. I remember cringing away from light.
We talked about our lives. What’s changed, what hasn’t. I told her about school, and it was nice to talk about it with someone who was there at the beginning, who knew me as an English major with no hope for the future. In some ways, I am still that girl of 18, unsure and afraid. But I have grown so much. It doesn’t seem like it right now, with everything at a standstill, but I have.
Since 2015, I have published a book, started a literary magazine, graduated with not only a bachelor’s degree but also a certificate. I’ve started graduate school, and if all goes according to plan (haha), will graduate this December with a master’s in community counseling. I’ve read 128 books, survived two allergic reactions, rode the train halfway across the country, and left wheel marks on three different beaches. I’ve fallen in and out of love, I’ve met my best friend of 10 years, and I’ve played loads of Dungeons & Dragons.
It’s easy to feel like I’m falling behind, especially when my life looks like dry skin and a runny nose and a vase full of dying tulips on my desk. But I’m not standing still. I’m just catching my breath. And when it’s time, I’ll be on Twitter hawking my latest publication once again.
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