Somewhere around the end of December 2014 and beginning of January 2015, my life unraveled.
I’ve always been a bit of a control freak. (A lapsed control freak.)
In other words, I knew how to chill. I had a strong group of loyal friends, I knew how and when to take time for myself, and I never stressed too much about grades. By the end of 2013, I was in a great place.
2014 was to be the year of me.
And, it was. Mostly.
Had I really paid attention–when I entered my senior fall–I would’ve seen the warning signs. But I wouldn’t be a control freak if I easily assessed and said, “woah, girly…slow down.”
So, I kept chugging along. My senior fall was supposed to be the semester I said goodbye to unnecessary stressors.
I was ONLY supposed to be involved in clubs I deeply cared about.
I would focus on my publishing job.
I would write.
…I was going to write a ton.
Instead I took on officer positions I shouldn’t have. I didn’t focus enough on my coursework. I was drowning, and I refused to admit it. Oh, and not to mention I developed this HUGE lesbian crush (haha) on one of my closest college friends. That friendship developed into a best/bro-friendship. We stayed up until 1-3 AM every morning: watching TV, talking, basically suppressing our feelings for each other while also denying the other responsibilities and the personal care (ahem, sleep) we owed ourselves.
As you might suspect, given the beginning of this post, I crashed.
Over winter break I didn’t do much writing. If you go through this blog you’ll see I rarely posted.
I did, however, video chat with said best friend every night (side note: if you’re in a long distance relationship you need this in your life). However, because this story needs a silver lining, I’ll “spoil” the ending and spill that we’re now dating. (Hallelujah, right? … Our friends were probably getting real tired of the teenage angst we were displaying.)
Back to the crash.
For those readers who’ve been around for a while you know I’ve dealt on with depression and anxiety since I was a little girl. For the most part, I’d been good to go since the winter after my first year in college. I thought I was in a good place. I didn’t seek the help I needed, and because I didn’t have the motivation to write I didn’t have an outlet for the emotions consuming me.
Every day I told myself I was fine. Come the end of January I flew back to Wellesley to began my second, and final, semester in college. As aforementioned, Zoe (my still girlfriend) and I started dating.
She’s the real MVP.
We were in bliss for about 1-2 weeks, maybe, before everything got rough. It means to world to me that she stayed by my side the entire time.
I tell her that all the time.
I used to hate that I what I put her through… that I allowed her to see the messy me. Now I realize it means I’ve found someone who won’t desert me during hard times, who understands my mental health struggles, and who knows the warning signs. As she often says, I put up with her during her tough moments and we weren’t even dating. She’s not the person I imagined myself with but I guess that’s how love works. Love is also messy, unsuspecting, and when done right it’s one of the most powerful forces in the world.
Back to my (roller-coaster) spring semester:
Not only was I the officer in orgs, but I was also the president of one. I quit a few things but my pride wouldn’t let me step down from the others. Looking back, staying with those orgs was probably for the best. My responsibilities might have added stress but they also kept me in contact with, well, people.
I didn’t tell many of my friends what was going on; I alienated myself from many of them as a result. I finally broke down one morning in April and told one friend. She said, “I knew something was wrong, but because you didn’t say anything, I didn’t know what to say.”
I get that, I really do.
To my other friends, thank you for silently supporting me and for being there for me when I was ready to talk.
To those wishing to help a friend they think is suffering: I know how painful and awkward it can be but please say something. Often we, the sufferers, are too afraid to tell the truth. My worst mistake though was not telling my parents until the worst of it was over. I told myself I didn’t want to burden them. I told myself it was nothing. I said, “Patrice, you’re an adult, you need to handle this yourself. Most of all, as the oldest, I didn’t want my siblings to find out.
Telling my parents, telling my friends, was the best decision I made. I wish I wouldn’t have waited as long as I did. The hardest thing is feeling alone in your struggle even though you’re not.
It’s taken me a long time to pick up the pieces of my life I wanted AND discard the pieces of my life that were burdens. After I did, I realized I need writing back in my life. But not just writing, the writing community that has, in part, helped me over these past three years to become the writer, the informed citizen, and the woman I am today.
I had to desert everything, to lose nearly everyone in order for me to figure out what I really needed, what I really valued, and ultimately who I really am.
Sometimes I still feel trapped, have bad days, and every once in a while I have panic attacks. When that happens I often feel like I’m losing control again. The important I’m learning is I don’t have to be in control of every situation. I don’t need that anymore. My girlfriend has this look she gives me that basically says, “Patrice, you’re micromanaging me again.” And then I’ll step back, laugh a little, and go on a walk or something.
Walking… it helps.
As for my worries–because worrying / anxiety had a big hand in my breakdown–I can’t say I worry less. I can say that I’m getting better at distracting myself from all the things I’m worried about. Also, bit by bit, my major worries are going away. I’ve found an amazing apartment in the city to sublet while I figure out where I want to live. I have an amazing job I start in late August, and I’m learning how to balance time for my family, my girlfriend, my friends, and ultimately myself.
Why do I write? Why do I still write?
I write to feel less trapped.
I write to be free.
I write to explore vulnerability (which is a new, scary thing for me thanks to my relationship). I write to tell my stories.
I’ve always had a “larger than average” imagination, and I’ve always loved to share my stories with others. I hope I’m share my stories with the world, with people, with children and teens who desperately need them just as I desperately needed and clung to the stories I grew up reading.
I write for myself.
I need writing: To make me happy. To make me whole. To entertain myself. To remind me that though the past never disappears, it doesn’t control what I do today.
*View my first ‘Why I Write’ post*