“The whole world can’t lick us but we can lick ourselves by longing too hard for things we haven’t got anymore – and by remembering too much.”
Gone with the Wind
I read Mitchell’s novel when I was in college and this quote immediately stood out to me. I related to it so much for some important reasons. Depression started to really take over my life in college when life as I had always known it changed so drastically. I had a very difficult time adjusting to the changes.
One such change was my livelihood of playing and being extremely active, and successful in sports. My time was over too soon, and I wasn’t ready to give it up. But even though, I chose to run on the cross country and track teams in college, it was just not the same as high school. Being involved in collegiate athletics was one of the most difficult things I ever did voluntarily. I started to deal with the anxiety and depression that I was beginning to experience by sleeping any time I had the opportunity. It was my way of disappearing from the world and not having to live with an uncomfortable and very difficult “chore”. That is how I saw practice and collegiate competition. It was more like a tough chore or even a job that I did not get paid for. I had made the commitment to do it so there was no way I was going to quit even though I really wanted to.
The biggest and most traumatic change in my life was leaving my home and family to go off to college. I lived in the dorm my freshman year and in a small house off campus every year after that. And, even though my college was only about 30 minutes from my hometown, it felt like it was more like half way across the country. It almost felt completely unnatural to me to have to leave my mother and father and brothers and sister to go away to college. It is embarrassing to say, but I went home almost every single weekend to spend it with my family. I also moved back home for the entire duration of both winter and summer breaks.
I kept a journal throughout most of my college career and I found an entry I wrote on one particular day. One day, I miserably failed a test in my major and went to visit with my professor about it. It turned into more of a counseling session and I spent nearly two hours discussing my fears as to why I couldn’t leave the country to study the language that I was planning on teaching. I remember telling him about my Grandpa and the fear I had that something bad would happen to him if I chose to leave the country. The journal entry I am referring to was from a discussion I had on another occasion with my tutor who I practiced speaking in the foreign language to every week. Here is a section of that entry dated April 2, 1997. I was 23 years old and would be graduating in May of 1998.
“I feel that if I ever left here I would just die. I need my family. I have to be able to see them and laugh with them or else I’ll die. Fito doesn’t understand. I’ll miss everything if I leave. I’m so afraid something will happen if I’m not there. Or that I’ll miss out on something important that would happen if I were there.
Just only about a month ago I was crying one Sunday evening at home because I didn’t want to come back here. I’m not sure if it’s coming to Pitt or being in Pitt, or if it’s leaving home that is so upsetting. Maybe I’m fooling myself. I don’t know. It’s just that I feel such guilt when I”m not at home. I’m not sure why. My unprofessional conclusion is that I’m just all messed up. I wish I was 100% sure of everything and that I knew all the answers.
I am sick of being so dang timid. I don’t know how to be any different than this. Not true. I know. I just don’t believe I can do it.”
I guess my biggest fear at this time was fear of the unknown, but especially the death of a loved one. I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving home for a foreign country, because I was just positive that someone would die. For some reason, the person I had the greatest fear of losing was my grandfather, even though it would be another 16 years until he passed away, and I would be 39 years old.
I truly believe that this fear of mine was so traumatic for me that it inevidently became part of the reason I continued to suffer from depression for the remaining of my adult life.
I will say, though, that at this moment I am in the best place I have ever been in all aspects of my life, mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. For this, I am truly grateful. However, it has taken me more than 25 years to get to this place in my life. If I, who have suffered as much and intensely as I have can get to this amazing place, then I truly believe anyone who also suffers can find their way out and make their lives better. This is what I hope for everyone who works hard day after day, as well as those who suffer in silence.
In my next post, I want to discuss the loss of my grandpa and how it has effected me and my depression in the last 3 years. Tomorrow will be the 3 year anniversary of his death. I hope you continue reading my story and I hope you can somehow relate your own life to my struggles. But most of all, I hope that in some way through this blog, I can help you improve your quality of life. It can happen for you. I know it can, because it happened to me and I had all but given up on ever improving my mental state.
I hope you continue reading about my journey. God bless you!