Being a university student is like having a switch attached to the back of your head. Very easily, I find myself going from productive, lively days to having the energy completely sucked out of me, with espresso shots being the only thing keeping me up right. Especially during this time, as many students work strenuously for the next couple of weeks tying up loose ends, this polarizing behavior is very common amongst not only myself but my peers. This behavior within my own life is dictated by my mental health particularly, as my depression and anxiety play a tug-o-war throughout the week, the victor regulating my actions throughout the day.
On the days my anxiety is most prominent, I work excessively. I become increasingly paranoid, and in an effort to relieve myself of stress, end up working hours upon end in the library, running off water and coffee. My anxiety is particularly connected to my eating disorder, the suppression of eating making it easier to hit the highest level of working efficiency. When my anxiety rules over my body, I go numb and seek refugee within my textbooks and piles of assignments and my working checklist. This workaholic behavior is something I’ve discussed in the past as a product of living in a capitalistic society that praises efficiency, as the rippling effects of our society’s values are deeply instilled throughout the youth. Especially with my peers, there’s a hint of pride when you take more than 15 units a semester.
Other days, my depression rules me. Depression has the ability to weight my whole physical being down, as if I was caring invisible weights with me throughout my day. Depression keeps me chained to the bed, wrapped underneath my comforter as I mindlessly scroll through the news, becoming increasingly heavier with each negative article. Depression tugs at my stomach in a way anxiety could never sway me, reminding me that I need food to survive but never granting me the privilege of hunger. Instead, I eat cold leftovers from the takeout boxes the one time I couldn’t bring myself to the grocery store and sleeves of crackers, telling myself that the carbs will help. My insomnia from the night before teams up with depression, phasing me out throughout the day as I stare at the corner of a room, glass-eyed and all.
I live in limbo, as anxiety and depression fight over rule of my body. They work in completely different, yet similar ways, making it hard to pinpoint any concrete steps to improve my condition. They have me chained at the wrists, limiting my abilities to work as a student and reach full potentials. They tug at me as I write, trying to force me to put my computer away and do something else, whether it be working until I pass out from exhaustion or checking out entirely for the rest of the day.
When navigating mental health as a student, it become increasingly hard to make room for my own development. I feel chained to my library, whether it be for naps or working, because my schedule demands it. I keep finding myself with more and more tasks piling, my time for therapy or counseling reducing in number as the semester continues. Self medicating as been significantly helpful in turning around issues of insomnia and eating, but the possible dependency on medical marijuana worries me. As I continue with university, I have to constantly remind myself of the need for collective and self care because living like this isn’t sustainable. I need nights full of debauchery, laughing at dumb television shows as I shovel food into my mouth. I need give myself the space to cry and really feel everything, so I don’t grow cold. I need to remind myself that I’m human, and forgive myself for my mistakes so I can continue to grow.