Pre-grad Agenda: Don’t Kill Yourself.
During my last semester in college, I couldn’t wait for graduation to come. I found myself depressed and suicidal during a time when every graduating member of my batch was scrambling to make the most of their last few months in college. There were people challenged and voluntarily living for the fulfillment of orgwork done right. There were people training hard and fighting off the injury bug for the last few games of the season. There were whole groups of friends planning weekend getaways or unplanned inumans (drinking sessions) because graduation would mean their eventual separation. There were couples taking advantage of the last time they are this accessible to each other in college. Then there was me, and all I wanted to do was kill myself.
Earlier that semester, I felt the depression that I thought I had overcome beginning to come back. And it wanted vengeance. I tried to cope with its newly potent form but the agony of losing my first victory over the depression that I’d had since I was 11 got the better of me. All the pain and the grief from the past clawed its way back to me and held on tightly. It got harder to hide the episodes and there were days so bad that I’d burst out crying for no particular reason. When the people around me began to worry and asked me to explain what was going on, they eventually decided that they were better off without me. This was the reason why I never openly talked about it.
I got used to staying quiet. I’ve gotten used to silence and using humor to pass everything off.
I’d rather that people thought I was funny and interesting without having to know that I’m suffering from a crippling mental illness that’s sucking the life out of me and makes expect the worst out of everything. It didn’t help that I also had anxiety and some days felt like a war between fear of failure and the lack of motivation. Throughout the semester, I found myself increasingly isolating myself from everyone and going through each day in school wishing I could already go home. I started getting help from a psychology center that I went to once a week, because talking to trained professional for an hour beat out talking about it with other people who didn’t.
“Just think positive.”
“It’s just a matter of seeing things.”
“Don’t be stupid, pray to God.”
“You’re just making up your own problems because you’re so privileged.”
After a decade of hearing every variation of the above lines, everything began to sound like bullshit. The only thing I had keeping me going were my academics, which thankfully, kept me busy. And even then, even though time flew by relatively fast in that last semester, it didn’t feel fast enough. I still felt everything. I felt how loneliness kept me warm. I felt the stress of having nowhere to go during my breaks. I felt how my car was the only place I could feel safe. I felt how ineffective forcing happiness was. I felt how exasperating it was having to deal with people who think that being kind and avoiding burning bridges was the only way to deal with people. I felt how trying to give meaning to the meaningless world around me wasn’t working anymore, and that maybe taking myself out of it will set things right.
I say this because it seems that every year since 2012, someone from my high school batch has died. And it seemed like I was supposed to continue the curse when I wanted to kill myself back in 2014. I avoided that by getting help. But in the year that followed, three people from my batch died. You could say I felt guilty. I also know that it’s wrong to think that way. But there were days when rationality would be replaced with guilt and I would say that no one will miss me anyway.
But I was getting help and my psychologist was actually concerned about my progress. She called to ask how I was when I had to cancel sessions when I couldn’t get out of bed. She reassured me that I’m better off without the people that I cut off, even if no one agreed with me. She told me that it was okay to be excited for life beyond college because anyway, I had nothing going for me anymore. And somehow, I managed to make it past finals week and when my grades came out, I was even surprised to find out that my grades were this high despite how horrible I felt throughout the semester.
“You’ve been through a lot. And you’re still a good person despite all of that.”
I honestly don’t see how so many people can think that I’m still a good person. Especially because I think I’m mean and ruthless when it comes to how I am with interpersonal relationships. And yet, there are people who still stick around me. It’s a humbling and touching thing to be aware of that. Maybe they see something in me that I don’t. After all, pain is supposed to numb you. And I’m fully convinced that the amount of pain and grief that I have to endure has permanently extinguished that part of me that still has faith in humanity. At this point, all I can truly muster is putting my faith in a handful of people. And I’m content with them valuing me just as much as I do them.
I’d like to say that I’m in a much better place now, because school is over. And even though my last semester in college isn’t what I wanted it to be, I’m having a great time waiting for my graduation ceremony. I actually feel alive.
I've been struggling, in the constant cycle of denying & living with my mental illness And art has always paved way for self-care, and somehow, healing I truly believe i
only when you stay awake late enough can you hear the sound of daybreak, a town slowly coming alive as you wonder if you still are you count every breath you spend staring
Jan Alaba's digital illustration was inspired by this particular Alessia Cara song He has struggled with Dissociative Identity Disorder, diagnosed since 2014 and is still working