“If I get hit by a car, I won’t have to take my final.”
While looking at the cars driving past Loyola Village, I wondered if it seemed worth it.
That was not the first time I’ve put myself on the edge — I’ve been struggling with those dark thoughts for a while now. Yet this time was different. I remember staring at the cars going by and wondering if I would have the courage to just walk into the street so that I would not have to take my finals.
I must have looked as horrible as I felt because an older woman walking her dog asked me if I was okay. I told her yes, but when she got out of earshot, I suddenly burst into tears, got up and made my way back into Loyola Village. I was crying in the garage and in the elevator. When I got into my apartment, I continued to cry, feeling lonelier than I’ve ever felt.
I knew at that moment that I was not alright and that these thoughts weren’t normal.
I was in the worst mental state I remember ever being in, and, to be honest, I am proud of myself for going to class the next day. There were many ways for that night to end, and I’m thankful it ended the way that it did. That experience made me determined to never feel that way again.
The reason I am writing this is not to lament about my pain, but rather talk about how I coped with it and how I took my depression into my own hands.
I first opened a Google Doc and wrote everything that made me happy and excited. From seeing my brother smile to listening to music in my office to even being excited for a new lipstick that was going to be in stores soon.
I’m not the only person to be stressed by finals. There are times when you’re so overwhelmed that it feels like you have nothing else in your life besides that stress. You forget the things that make you happy and make you human. It’s important to write those things down, even if you don’t need to remember them at that moment. There may be a time when you look at these things and they save your life.
The problem with depression is the cycle that it puts you in. You have trouble finding the motivation to do what you know needs to be done, so you feel like a waste of space. Then, because you feel like a waste of space, you lose the will to do anything (which starts the sequence all over again).
The way I get out of this cycle is by starting small on the things that I have to do.
For example, I had 53 dense pages of reading to get through that I had not started because it just seemed like too big of a task. But I told myself that I was going to read eight pages without stopping. Not an incredible amount, but eight pages are better than none. I then took a break and read another eight pages, and, though it was slow and painful, I did get through all my reading. And rather than telling myself that I needed to clean my entire apartment and not doing it, I decided to clean my bathroom.
My advice applies to everyone who feels overwhelmed, especially right now during finals. You can start by splitting your obligations into tasks that almost seem offensively small, and then you increase the load until you don’t need to make steps anymore.
I knew that night that I did not want to feel that way ever again. It would be nice to say that after making that decision I was suddenly better, but healing was not instant. It was hard work then and continues to be hard work now. But it is worth it.