Or why when I know I’m not doing well, I should take a step back and not try to push myself.
On Thursday night something bad happened. Or rather, a perfect storm of bad things happened. I’m not going to go into details, but the end result was that despite having been keeping myself mostly afloat for the last few months or so, I got to a point where I was once again seriously considering taking my own life. I was making a plan, doing internet searches to see where I could buy the poison I wanted to use… And then I got a text message from a friend in Japan. I don’t know what would have happened if he hadn’t texted me, but the important thing is that he did. And that he listened. He didn’t once express that he thought my problems were silly (which each of them, taken alone, actually was), or that he thought I was overreacting (I might have been, I don’t know). He just stayed up late into the night with me until I felt ready to be left alone. Until I felt I could finally get some sleep.
It helped. A lot. I don’t know how to express how important it was to me, in that moment, to have a friend who offered me his unconditional love and acceptance in a moment where I needed a person to listen, to care. He didn’t try to invalidate my feelings, even if in the privacy of his own mind he might have seen them as an overreaction to the situation, he accepted that even if they weren’t real to him, they were very real to me, and to him, that was enough. He accepted that there are things in my life, in my mind, that are hard for me to deal with, and he accepted that in that moment, I needed him to put aside whatever he might have been thinking or feeling to be there for me. And he was. In the end, it was really that simple, and I’m grateful for that. But even his being there for me wasn’t enough to ‘fix’ me, it never has been, it never will be. Depression is like that.
The next day I went to school. I thought I was better, which I was. I also thought I was fine, which I wasn’t. By the time the last lesson came around, I was feeling rather awful. But because it was my favourite class, against my better judgment, I decided to try to make it through the last hour and a half instead of calling it a day and heading home to take care of myself. I made it through the lesson, barely. A friend told me to stop pacing because it was making her nervous and another friend came up to me and held my hand and whispered comforting things into my ear. The teacher gave me odd looks, but said nothing, even when I didn’t participate in class at all.
The lesson was not good. I couldn’t even fake a smile, much less try to act like things were any more okay than they actually were. I don’t remember the actual lesson itself very clearly. But later, I did worry that the teacher’s strange looks meant I looked like I was not paying attention, like I was bored. I started worrying about whether the teacher would hate me forever (this happens a lot, but that will be another post). I confessed these fears to another friend who listened and didn’t judge. She accepted that my fears were very real to me, and reassured me that even if the teacher noticed, he wouldn’t think that I wasn’t paying attention and that my expression had been one of sadness and struggle rather than one of boredom.
I’m not entirely sure what the conclusion of this post is supposed to be. Initially, I thought I was writing a post about how next time when I feel that awful, I should take the rest of the day off school instead of trying to push myself to get through a lesson, even if it is my favourite. But now, looking back on what I’ve written, I think what really stands out in my post is how wonderful my friends have been. How supportive, how kind… how important. So I think I’m going to leave this post like that, a monument to the people in my life who are willing to put their own struggles on hold to be there and hold my hand (physically or virtually) while I battle my demons.
This is in response to this post written by Alyssa of Yes, That Too. Or rather, these are just my rambling thoughts that were inspired by her awesome post.
When I was in fifth grade, students with nice handwriting were allowed to use pen on homework assignments. Almost everyone in my class, by the end of the year, had managed to get a ‘pen license’. Except me. Beyond the embarrassment of being the only girl in the class not to have one, I got increasingly frustrated with myself for not being able to write neatly.
At the end of the sixth grade, my parents took me to see an educational psychologist who said that since my fine motor skills were/are less than stellar, it might be a good idea to let me complete assignments and stuff on the computer. Because my handwriting at that point was so bad that in order for anyone (including me) to read my writing, I had to write so slowly that I’d forget what I was trying to say before I reached the end of a sentence.
Since I don’t have a disability, just rubbish fine motor skills, nothing happened. Except that in seventh grade, I finally did get around to learning to write neatly (peer pressure etc. etc. etc.). And I can actually write very, very neatly. It took me pretty much the whole year. I found a girl whose handwriting was nice and copied and copied and copied until I could write the way she did. It took a long time, but I made it.
One of my teachers has spent pretty much the entire year telling us about how important it is that we have neat handwriting in exams and such. In my last test, I wrote with the neatest handwriting I could manage. It was legible and clear. I was actually quite proud of myself. And my teacher’s comment on my test was “You need to improve your handwriting!”. I was really quite disappointed. I thought my handwriting was very neat, and was proud of how neat I’d managed to make my writing in the past 5 years. And then this. Which was not nice, but fine. I can deal with not nice.
Another thing we have to do in my school is take notes in class. Handwritten notes, not computer ones. Last year in my end-of-term report, one of my teachers said something about how I needed to take more notes in class. Which is great. Because taking notes in class doesn’t do me a lot of good. I can’t write and listen at the same time, because the mechanics of handwriting take up too much of my concentration, and trying to filter out background noise in a classroom takes too much concentration, and I’m only one person. So I can either listen and process everything the teacher says in real-time, or I can write down everything she says and read it later. If I choose to listen, she gets upset because I’m not taking notes, but if I take notes, I have to write very quickly because if I’m not listening, I can’t filter out things I don’t need to copy down which means I have to write down every word. My handwriting when I’m writing at a normal speed is barely legible to me and illegible to some people. When I’m writing down every word? Even I can’t read over half of it. Which means over half of the things she said, I am missing. Not good. I can manage, because she happens to teach my best subject and I can read the textbook, but it just seems really counterintuitive to copy down notes I can’t use, when just listening in class would be more helpful for me (despite the fact that I’m very un-auditory as a learner… at least I can process nearly everything she says).
In Alyssa’s blog post, she talked about accessibility for kids who can’t do the handwriting-thing. But I’m a little more concerned with the grey area in which I fall. I can do the handwriting thing, and I do get by in a school where I have to use handwriting all the time. It’s just something that makes school that much more difficult. It means when I write an essay, I forget things I meant to write about because I can’t write anywhere near as fast as I think. It means I run out of time writing on tests sometimes if I’m writing neatly, but if I try to finish in time, my handwriting isn’t the most legible. It means I’m missing out on a lot of information in class. But because I’m not disabled, I can’t not handwrite.
One of the hardest things in life is letting go. It’s something we all need to do at some point, but that doesn’t make it any easier.
A friend of mine recently entered into a relationship that is already showing signs of being abusive. I and several others have pointed out our concerns to him, and although he agrees that the relationship is problematic, he doesn’t want to leave because he still loves his significant other very much.
Although I’ve never been in a relationship, much less an abusive one, I have faced situations in which even though I knew it was best for me to let go, I didn’t want to.
“Don’t give up”, “you only fail when you stop trying”, “nothing is impossible”… Our society constantly tells us that nothing is beyond us and that no matter what the situation we’re facing, we should never back down, never let go. It’s easy to see the appeal of the idea. And indeed if we gave up as soon as things got hard, we’d never go anywhere. However, it’s equally important to know when it is a good idea to give up, and it happens sometimes.
It’s not so very hard to let go of something we know to be impossible. What’s hard is letting go of the very small chance that you might have succeeded. Turning your back on something that is actually possible is hard to justify to yourself, but it’s something we have to learn to do.
It amazes me just how much I’m willing to sacrifice for the smallest chance at something that’s really important to me. My happiness, self esteem etc. All for the tiniest glimmer of hope that I might have succeeded. At some point, I think I really need to learn that if just trying for something that isn’t likely is going to cause me to lose a lot of important things, I need to let go. But it still feels too much like giving up. But the hardest thing to learn, and one of the most important, is when to let go of an achievable dream
I’m seventeen, and that means I’m having to decide on what I want to do for the rest of my life. On one hand, I have my dreams of being a veterinarian, dreams of spending the rest of my life doing something I love and am passionate about. On the other hand, I have to look at the very real possibility of not being able to find a job once I graduate, and the near-certainty that in this profession, I will not earn as much money as I would being, say, a doctor, which is what my parents want me to do. I think I have a fair chance at getting into veterinary school, and to give that all up for money and job security seems ridiculous, but even so, it’s hard to say that following my dreams is going to be the best thing for me. Situations like this are the worst, because although letting go might be wise, the self-doubts, the “what-ifs” will continue to haunt me.
In the end, it all comes down to one big question. When do we let go and how? And I don’t have any answers.
A former teacher shared this quote with me and I decided to put it here. I don’t know who the original author is, so it’s not credited, but it’s not mine, either.
“Life is full of imperfect things and imperfect people. I’m not the best at hardly anything, and I forget birthdays and anniversaries just like everyone else. What I’ve learned over the years, is that learning to accept each others faults and choosing to celebrate each other’s differences, is one of the most important keys to creating a healthy, growing, and lasting relationship. Life is too short to wake up with regrets. Love the people who treat you right and have compassion for the ones who don’t.”