This Friday I really only got out of bed two times, and only to get food or go to the bathroom. I slept a lot, I missed my one class, and I really didn’t do anything productive.
I had a few days like that last semester, except the doctor had a different name to explain it. That was called “depression”, whereas Friday’s diagnosis could just be called the flu or a head cold. But the difference is that I didn’t need to go anywhere to get that diagnosis because I knew I could basically just sleep it off, drink some orange juice, eat lots of sodium (for my POTS), and in a few days it would correct itself.
I didn’t know that last semester. Or even throughout freshman year, for that matter. I didn’t know if I’d ever wake up, not feeling heavy, or numb, or just yearning to feel something. I didn’t know if a day would go by where I didn’t cry or I didn’t constantly think about dropping out of school, or just quitting. I didn’t know what these feelings were and that they even had a name, and that’s mostly because of the stigma behind terms like “depression” and “anxiety” and “ADD.”
There’s this statistic I read somewhere about people who take their own lives, and how they normally don’t have that feeling of community–whether it’s a support system or a church group or just close friends or family. In many senses of the word, they feel alone.
When I joined Phi Mu, I felt less alone. We had a sleepover before initiation and we went around the room and talked about the best time and the worst time of our lives. I was so moved by the openness of everyone and the atmosphere that was created–people talked about drugs, rape, the death of loved ones, even stories of walking in on a brother attempting suicide. Nothing was held back because these were all stories of things we had overcome. And now we had each other as a support system, should we need it. We knew what everyone went through at their worst, and we felt less alone.
My story of seeking out therapy after a professor referred me (due to a few rather dark, personal essays) seemed trivial in comparison, but I got a lot of love for sharing. And a few months later, a girl in my pledge class reached out to me with questions about it, because she was feeling the same way and wanted to find a professional to talk to.
Depression isn’t some rare, terminal disease that needs to be whispered about, but sometimes it is. People don’t know that much about it, and it’s because people are afraid to talk. I didn’t even know until last month that my ADD medicine can sometimes be deemed useless due to my depression. The brain is confusing AF, and we shouldn’t be scared off from trying to understand it and talk to one another about it. Because when we don’t, that’s when people can slip through the cracks.
Tomorrow I have a meeting because right now I’m on probation for not meeting grades–meaning that last semester I received a GPA of 2.6, which was actually pretty surprising for me. I mean, I didn’t think I did that bad. But I guess I did, and that requires a punishment–a probation period–because I didn’t meet standards.
And it’s interesting, because you could ask me anything about the Shakespeare plays I read or the media and communication class I took. Ask me about rhetoric or geography or how to write a solid news story for video or promote literacy in a high school class, and I could answer. I did learn a lot last semester, but just not in time, I guess. I didn’t always meet deadlines, I didn’t always go to class, and you can’t reward that behavior. It’s not fair to.
So tomorrow I’ll have to sit in front of a committee and give my side of the story, because although the numbers don’t lie, they never tell the full truth either. And it’ll be good practice for me, I guess, because I know that for the rest of my life, I’ll have to fight to be seen as more than a number. More than a transcript of grades or a piece of paper. Because I know I’ll be able to make a great teacher or a journalist or whatever I choose to do, and I know that this education will help me in the future, but the numbers aren’t really helping my case right now.
And it’s funny because I can tell them all that I’ve learned. I can tell them about all the wonderful relationships I have with my professors, and I can even talk about the article I’m co-authoring that’s going to go in some scholarly journal at the end of the semester, but they won’t really care about that. Because I could contribute all I have and work to the most of my ability, but if I don’t make grades, I could be dropped from Phi Mu, no questions asked.
So tomorrow, I don’t really know what I’m going to say. All I know is that at the end, I’ll ensure them that this semester is going to be better. I take adderall in the morning and citalopram at night. I have a supportive doctor and supportive friends. I’ve finally told my full family about what’s been going on with me. I haven’t had a panic attack in a month, and I even have a therapist I can turn to, should I need even more help. And I’ll end by saying that so far, I have all A’s, because that might be the only thing they really want to hear.
Because, again, we don’t know how to validate anything if we can’t quantify it.
PS. You should listen to this wonderful song by Dodie Clark: