Looking Back and Moving Forward

When I was in college (and even in the first two years immediately after), I was manic about keeping a LiveJournal. I did this because I wanted to chronicle every boring thing that happened to me every single day. A few days ago, I got the sudden urge to go back and start re-reading it. I haven’t pored over every single entry, but I read some and I skim some. I started in the middle of the spring semester of my sophomore year (early 2003) and at this point I’m up to where I have just started my last semester of my senior year. I have been driving my friends nuts over the last day or two (at least I assume this is the case since they’ve all stopped answering me) with memories and funny things I read and remember. Or things I read that make me smile or things I find touching. But as I touched upon in an earlier post, I am the kind of person who does stuff like that. When anything reminds me of one of my friends, I immediately want to jump to the phone or the computer and let them know I’m thinking about them. And okay, sometimes my feelings get a little hurt when they don’t care.  But I’ve also become the kind of person who eventually thinks “Ok, I’ve (texted/emailed/called/Facebooked) you (insert number here) amount of times in a row without a response so now I’m just annoyed because it’s your turn.” That’s something totally different that’s probably better left to another post when it’s not almost 3 a.m. I digress.

I quit the LJ cold turkey on my 25th birthday, calling it The Feast of the Quarter-Life Crisis (a joke that came back to bite me in the ass in the form of a true quarter-life crisis a few months later). It was time for a new chapter, and now that I’ll be 27.5 in a few weeks, I think it’s safe to go back and read what I had always considered such boring stuff. The thing is, though, that it’s not. I am constantly being reminded of how much I’ve grown and how much I am the same and yet still different. Some parts of my journal make me really sad, either because times have changed so much or because of the goings-on then. For example, during my junior year, I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder and borderline social anxiety. The journal entries in the month that led up to that diagnosis were so difficult to read. I pushed people away. I woke up in the morning, showered, and went back to sleep, missing days of classes. I left my room only to go to dinner and therapy some days. For all intents and purposes, I was in the bell jar. Stewing in it. Reading those entries brought me back to a lot of those feelings, but I realized a few things from it. 

First of all, I realized that the reason I wrote at such length about those days was because I was trying to make sense of what was happening to me. I was always a little on the dark and sarcastic side, but when you stop wanting to go out and you stop wanting to be a real person with real hobbies and a real life, then something is wrong. A lot of people roll their eyes and say things like “Oh, good. ANOTHER head case. I’ve got problems too, but you don’t see me crying about it.” You can never really know how terrifying it is until you’ve been awake all night, afraid of yourself and what you’re capable of doing. I’m not sure why I didn’t think it was a big deal. I’m not sure why my friends didn’t think something was really wrong with me, but then I thought that maybe they did and they just didn’t say anything. Or maybe they said something and I didn’t listen (I am rather stubborn). Or maybe I kept a lot of it in so that no one would know how bad it was. I suspect it was a combination thereof, but I’m really fuzzy on parts of the fall semester of 2003.

Second of all, I realized that I sometimes forget to realize how great my friends are. It absolutely cannot have been easy to deal with me during that time in my life, and I was fortunate enough to have a few amazing friends at college who were understanding, but wouldn’t baby me too much. They listened and they hung out with me and they were around for the good days and the bad days. They had their own problems and could have easily brushed me off, but they didn’t. And the thing is… they’re still here now, six years later. We might not all be living in the same place, but they’re still here and I still love every single chance I get to see any or all of them. Some of them are among my favorite people in the whole world.

Finally, I realized that I have grown so much. I took my diagnosis and I took my medicine and I got better. One of the most difficult things about that time was having to hear people say “You’re fine. You just want pity.” I didn’t want pity. I wanted to get better, and I was proud of myself when I did. The nature of major depressive disorder is that it has a tendency to come back around. I know this because I watched my grandmother struggle with it. Even when she struggled, though, she continued to be passionate, smart, and funny. I’ve had some rough patches here and there, but nothing like that year in college. I’ve been off of the medicine for almost three years now, and even on my bad days, I don’t find it debilitating. I can work around it. I’ve learned to manage it. At least for the most part. No one is perfect and I have just as many insecurities as the next person. Isn’t that what being human is all about? A range of emotions and all that good stuff? Maybe I just feel more of them more often than most people. Who knows.

It took two days to decide whether or not I wanted to write this post. I know there are people who read my blog who don’t know much about me or who are cyber-stalking (hello, regular readers in California) and whatnot, and opinions tend to change when you introduce topics such as depression. That’s not really the point of this post, though. Ultimately the point wasn’t about suffering the depression, but about getting better and being able to look back on those days and see how far I’ve come. It’s about being a survivor (in the Destiny’s Child sense of the term). It’s about how much I appreciate my friends.

But mostly it’s about how, with all the moving forward we do, sometimes it’s good to look back and laugh, but it’s especially good to look at where we were and see how we got to be where we are.

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