Health · Personal

Another ride on the seesaw

Phew, what a hectic month it’s been since starting back at uni last month! Despite only having six or seven hours of contact time per week this semester, I’ve been devoting a lot of my time to self-study and practice (quite rightly so, I guess) so I’ve been feeling exhausted from all the effort I’ve been putting in. The pressure is really on this year, as we need to get into Honours. The overall pass mark for getting into Honours is an achievable 50%, but I’m still keen to do my best so that I have a better chance of being able to choose any modules I like next year without worrying about being “bad” at anything.

Unfortunately, it’s all getting a bit too much already and I can feel myself falling. I’m slipping back down that slope which I’ve been forcing myself to pedal up all summer. I’ve found myself questioning what I’m doing with my life and whether it’s all worth it, I’ve lost interest in socialising and can’t bring myself to go out in the evenings (leading to a lot of cancelled plans), and I feel tired almost constantly – even after sleeping for 11 hours (which, yes, has happened).

I can’t remember if I mentioned, but after my major glitch with withdrawal, I started back on 10mg of citalopram in August. Anyway, that’s by-the-by. I went back to my doctor yesterday  and told her how much worse I’d been feeling, so I went back up 20mg. At first, I was apprehensive about going back up a dose, because there’s still a negative voice in my head saying “you’re just not trying hard enough, you’re lazy, you’re not really depressed, stop making excuses for being an antisocial blob”, which is especially prominent these days considering some nights, I can find the strength to go out with friends. I told her that maybe I just wasn’t trying hard enough, considering some nights I can manage it, but she reassured me with some wise words which have stuck with me: “maybe when you go out, you’re putting your ‘brave face’ on,  but how you feel when you don’t go out is a true reflection of how you really feel.”

And I think it’s true. I can go so long pretending everything’s fine, everything’s getting better, and then I get home, where I can be alone, and I snap. I feel completely drained from just keeping that smile on my face when I don’t feel like it inside.

I’m scared that soon, I will crash and burn. I just want to be happy and sociable and get good grades, is that really too much to juggle?

One of my close friends told me today that she’s been given a screening questionnaire for depression, anxiety and stress, because she’s been having problems with being tired and not being able to sleep. She’s also having a blood test to check for thyroid, anaemia and diabetes, in case it’s that, but she said that she hopes it’s not that and that it’s a mental thing. I’ve never realised how difficult it is to say to a friend, “no, you don’t understand – controlling a physical illness is so much easier than controlling a mental illness”. Because mental illness is so much harder to control. No matter how many pills you put into your body, there are always going to be days when you feel inexplicably awful about yourself. Unlike many physical illnesses, it’s not a case of “keep taking the meds, know how to control your body and you’ll barely even notice you are ill at all.” And that’s what makes it so much harder.

I guess I’m just scared that I can’t be there for her. How can I tell someone else that everything will get better and that life is always worth living when I struggle to believe it myself?



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