All of my friends are sitting at a table right now, learning about whatever their classes are discussing. I am sitting here writing on a couch. I’m not studying, I’m not learning how the brain works, or all about the Civil War. No, i’m just sitting here trying to find the strength to keep on writing.
I started last year as a freshman at a small private all women’s college in my hometown. During orientation, I found the perfect roommate. When I moved in, I saw the perfect room. The only thing that wasn’t perfect was me.
I let this slide though. I pushed through the mental illness so I could have the best year ever. My roommate became my best friend, and we went everywhere together. She was my rock. She talked for me when I couldn’t and dragged me around to events I never thought I’d attend. I had a happy first month.
Then things changed. I started restricting my calories, using a vegetarian diet as an excuse. I was also purging the little food I did eat. Classes became harder. Somedays I couldn’t attend. Others I had panic attacks in the middle of class. I eventually had to be hospitalized for suicidal thoughts and psychosis.
I came back to school and was welcomed back with open arms. I felt like I belonged again, and we pretended nothing had happened.
I was eventually hospitalized again for the same reasons. This time it was decided I wouldn’t go back to school. My friends said goodbye. My roommate had tears in her eyes just like me, but neither of us admitted it. I was leaving. My freedom at college had turned into a cage where I couldn’t be safe, where I couldn’t care for myself.
Now, I read all the happy Facebook posts of my friends moving back to school. These have made me emotional. I am not ready to go back, but they all are. It feels unfair. Why do I have to be so mentally ill that I can’t handle living 10 minutes away from home? Why do all my friends get to live this happy life, while I’m sitting here about to start a medication that is supposed to be the best, but also requires weekly blood tests? Why can’t I learn about interesting topics and have interesting facts to share with others?
I have the answer to that, no matter how hard it is to believe it. I am struggling because I am ME.
Everybody is different, and I happened to pick the short straw in the “Who’s mentally ill?” game. That is okay. I am working on it. Maybe school isn’t good for me right now. Others might be able to be independent, but I am far from there. Perhaps right now is my down time, but I will rise up.
So, while I might not be in a classroom, I am still learning about myself. I am learning my triggers, who I am, and answering questions that are even tougher than what you would find on a math test. I am on the couch, but I am not sitting still. My brain is working overtime. This is why I write, to let it all out. I have found the strength to keep going. I am a student, and the teacher is the world.