Staying Connected

I find it interesting that during the last four months of Fall semester, I constantly found ways to procrastinate. A ton of things interested me and I felt burdened by not only school work and work-work, but the things I wanted to do and get done in my personal life. Now that school’s been out for a good week for winter break, I have spent the better part of the past week feeling terribly depressed. Unmotivated. 

I guess I’ve learned something about myself: I’m not really a good self-motivator. When I make to-do lists and they actually get done, it’s usually over the course of days or weeks or even a year. I prefer to be more or less unstructured in my day-to-day living. On the one hand, I need to have obligations to other people in order to get motivated. On the other hand, there’s a fine line between getting motivated and getting overwhelmed by too many obligations. 

I say all of this because the past two days have improved for me and my depression. When I say I went into a depression, I mean like, a real, deep depression. I have wanted to do nothing but lay in bed and sleep. I’ve been constantly on the verge of tears for no apparent reason. Very moody, touchy, irritable. Virtually no appetite. Very apathetic. Things I need to get done for the holidays are not getting done. And I’ve just been feeling plain, flat-out SAD all the time. Constantly. Sad. 

Yesterday, though, my sister and I decided that for my mom’s Christmas gift, since we’re not really doing real “gifts” this year, we would get updated portraits taken. Today, I’m supposed to meet a friend for brunch and then on Saturday I have another friend’s birthday celebration to attend. Having these things to do that involve other people motivates me. It makes me… happy. I’m not like I was as a teenager anymore. As a teenager, I was very nomadic in my social life. I hopped from group to group in high school when it came to friends, and in between those periods where I was associating loosely with some group I would spend a lot of time alone. I would spent a ton of time alone, reading, studying, or with my one closest friend that I had throughout my entire adolescence/into adulthood. That friend would later become my first serious relationship, but I think his presence in my life perhaps kept me from going crazy. Perhaps not, though, because now I am in a serious relationship with someone else and I still seem to go crazy when left with a ton of time on my hands and nothing to really look forward to in the immediate future. 

And actually, now that I think of it, I was rather emotionally unstable as a teenager. I self-injured, I contemplated suicide, I had a small handful of downright mental breakdowns. But I have always tended to just brush that off as typical teen angst, perhaps made a little more intense because of the circumstances of my life. Maybe it wasn’t though. Maybe it was because I had nothing really going on in my life at that time. 

Anyway, I guess my point is: other people matter. So much. What we do matters. A lot. Last night I had a total blast. My boyfriend “chaperoned” my sister and I to the mall for photos (which we had to wait another day to do! grr!) and we just had a great time browsing around, laughing, goofing off. We went to have dinner afterwards and had a great time there as well. All elements of my depression melted away. This morning I’m still feeling better, although I can feel that if I had nothing to look forward to I’d slip right back into that depression. 

Partly I think it’s not having a car. My boyfriend has been great about sharing his car with me, but it takes it’s toll. I’m about to be 25 and I think at the very least, even if I don’t have a real job or place of my own or even my degree yet, I want to have my own car at that age. A car is independence in a lot of ways. I feel trapped a lot without a car, especially during these winter months when it’s not realistic to walk or bike as an alternative. 

I’m starting to digress too much. I do that a lot. Oh well. 

Main point: I take turning 25 as a milestone in my life. I genuinely feel like I’m entering a new phase in my life. Actually, I feel like that happened when I moved here 2 years ago, but I feel like turning 25 is another step in this new phase in my life that makes everything even more real. I feel like I’ve been becoming this person that is me for my entire life, and a part of me feels that by 25 that person should be pretty solid. But it’s not, in the stereotypical sense of what we may expect from ourselves based on pop culture and other input we get throughout our lives. Even thought I haven’t reached those tangible things like getting my degree or whatever yet, I feel like it’s still important for me to assess who I am as a person, who I want to be, and how I need to work on my self-development to create the life I want. Because creating the life I want doesn’t just mean reaching certain goals. Mostly, more than anything, it means being the person I want to be. As in personality-wise, developing a realistic and healthy outlook on life, relationships, expectations, etc. Anyone can earn a degree. Anyone can get a job. Anyone can buy a car. Anyone can acquire living space of their own. But who is that person, when it all comes down to it? Are they a nice person? Are they really responsible, a good friend, a good partner, a good sister, a good citizen? What do they contribute to their community, their social circles, their workplace, their family dynamics? Those are the things that I feel like I want to focus on. My thinking. I strongly feel that with the right mindset and attitude, so many more doors open, so many things are possible, and I want to take this next step in my life to secure that mindset. I’ve spent so much time on things and thoughts and wallowing on feelings that were ultimately a waste of time and energy. As I say goodbye to the first quarter of my life, it’s time to get real with living how I want to live on a daily basis and being who I want to be. Yes, I’m proud of who I am so far in a lot of ways. I’ve grown a lot, especially over the past two years. I feel like I have a pretty solid foundation. But I need to continue pushing on in building and developing myself as an individual. There’s no time to spend in a dull mindset. That depression I spent the last week in is not okay. Yeah, people get depressed. It’s real. But I can’t expect it to just go away on its own. I need to assess what I’ve learned over the past 20 years of my life and build a tangible toolbox for how to deal with life now, with the tools I have so far. They’re there, but I don’t always use them. I haven’t necessarily developed them. I know that when I’m upset and I need something, I need to ask for it. I can’t expect people to read my mind. An adult asks straightforwardly and honestly for what she wants and needs. And she’s okay when she gets a No. But she tries. And she notices when there’s a problem and she tries. And she doesn’t stop trying until she has a solution that she can work on. I think that’s one of the defining things about being an adult. Knowing that you are ultimately the only person who is responsible for you in any way, and you are capable, and how to take care of yourself emotionally and mentally. It all starts there. Everything else can be worked out, but if you don’t have a healthy emotional foundation and a strong mindset, everything else is so much harder. I know I have a strong mind. I know I have the tools. I’ve been through a lot of shit in my life and I’ve always come out better for it. A little depression shouldn’t shove me on my ass for days on end.

That’s all, really. I will admit that when your depression is making you feel physically weak and exhausted, it’s very hard to do anything about it. But always try, we must… 


One thought on “Staying Connected

  1. Well said. I feel you on the depression and how having things planned help motivate. I wish I was able to be intrinsically motivated to get out and do things but lately I’m not. I almost feel like I need others (even my parents) to be happy and I know that’s not healthy…

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