This Labor-Day weekend, while you were outside grilling burgers and hotdogs, and some other college students were drinking and partying, I was all alone, locked in my apartment, doing nothing but homework and chores… And I’m so thankful I was.
Do I hate socializing? Am I just a boring person? No—I’m enjoying the fact that I’m suddenly well enough to take care of myself and do my homework. I haven’t felt as good as I do now in almost two years. Things have taken a sudden turn for the better!
It’s funny how, when you’ve lived with severe mental illness for long enough, you forget how incapacitating it really is. Ever since I relapsed in early 2016, it had become my new normal to be so depressed that starting the dishwasher or wiping down the counter-tops seemed like momentous achievements whenever I managed to do them. I had no energy for anything. Most days, I was no longer interested in my chosen field. Although I did have some good spells, honestly, I hated being alive a lot of the time.
But over the last few days, I think I’ve rediscovered what it’s like to not have bone-crushing depression and crippling anxiety…
Starting on Friday afternoon, I felt like the clouds were lifting off my brain. All week, I’d been putting off the week’s assignment for my independent study, believing it to be impossible, irrelevant, and completely uninteresting anyway, but Friday evening, I managed to sit down and start it… While enjoying the process! I hadn’t enjoyed anything like that since I was away at my job this summer.
But the big milestone was when I did my own laundry on Saturday—I washed, dried, and put away everything! I haven’t been able to do my own laundry since my Junior year. The thought of having to sort all my clothes, take off and then redo my bedding, figure out separate loads for everything, and then to fold/hang up the clean clothes—that was no easy task for someone with debilitating depression and executive function difficulties.
In my bad times, the limited brainpower and energy I had I could only muster towards doing homework and getting out of bed each day. I didn’t have anything left for laundry or cleaning; a lot of the time, I didn’t have enough left to properly care for myself, either. And so, things would always get to a crisis (usually when I also flared), and then my mom would have to come help me. All of last year, she was the one doing the laundry and cleaning the house for me. But to have done it all myself this week… In some ways, I’m more proud of that than of making the President’s List every semester.
Being able to take care of myself and my apartment is really an amazing feeling, because I’ve spent most of the last few years unable to do either one. I feel so free and like an actual adult now! Who knows? If this continues, maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to hold down a job and keep living on my own after I graduate.
Can you imagine if I get to experience a more typical life for a twenty-something—one that doesn’t involve battling two incapacitating diseases? What must it be like to not be fighting severe mental illness? What is it like if you can always sit down, at will, to do school or housework—and to not be utterly miserable and exhausted by it?
Even if my weekend wasn’t what most people would call fun, I’m grateful for every minute that I’ve been able to do these basic (albeit tedious) tasks that so many take for granted. Although I don’t necessarily enjoy doing chores and homework, I’m glad that I’m able to do them—and that, at least for now, I no longer feel like a psychiatric cripple.