The things I learned in Undergrad

My undergraduate experience hasn’t been very conventional. And I’ve hated myself for that since I returned to school in Fall 2015.

But I just finished a 10-minute guided meditation on self-forgiveness (because apparently I’m a person who meditates now), and as cringey and fluffy as it sounds, I realized something important. Namely, that I have learned so much more since I started university in 2012 than I ever could have if things had gone differently.

I wouldn’t be who I am today if I had graduated in 2016 with my friends from high school. If I hadn’t switched programs. If I didn’t take time off for eating disorder treatment. Maybe things would have been easier, but they wouldn’t have been better. Because I went to university to learn, and that’s what I did.

2012-2013

I began first-year as an anxious but generally happy super-Christian. I went to church twice a week, I volunteered with a youth group, and I planned to declare Religious Studies as my major in second year. I hardly know that 17-year-old version of me now. I feel compassion for her, because I remember that Christianity gave her a purpose and a community, before it gave her crippling self-hatred for being a sinner and stifled her dreams. I feel compassion for her, but I barely know her. These days, she rarely crosses my mind. Anyways, at some point, this girl decided God was telling her to become a nurse. When I didn’t get into the Nursing program for the following year, I decided to major in Psychology for my second year then transfer into Accelerated Nursing.

2013-2014

At the end of Summer 2013, after university education and life experience left me doubting Christianity for months, I made the decision that I was no longer a Christian. When I went back to school in September, all my friends thought I was going to hell, I had no hobbies or interests outside the church, and I had no direction or purpose for my life. I tried turning to science to give me some sense of meaning. I thought if I learned HOW our species and our planet ended up where they are now, I would also know WHY. I wanted to switch into Biology. Then Biochem. Then general Life Sciences. Then physics. Eventually, I decided to stay in psychology after all and do something to help those with mental illness. I developed Bulimia in the Fall, and barely attended any classes in the Winter. I went to the Psych ER three times with suicidal thoughts. At some point, I thought a change of scenery might help, so I applied to double major in Math and Writing at a different university in January 2015. Over the Summer, I experienced a trauma and my eating disorder became restrictive and took over everything. (When I talk about this, I like to clarify that my eating disorder COINCIDENTALLY became worse and more restrictive at the same time, but restrictive eating disorders are not generally more or less severe than other eating disorders)

2014-2015

Just typing in those years brings me immense sadness. This year must have been the most miserable in my life to date. In the Fall, I couldn’t work, and I was waiting until January to return to school. I watched documentaries under a blanket in my room all day, and had energy/motivation for little else. All I cared about was food and calories and weight. And to be honest, I probably needed it at that time, because everything else had gone to shit. I accepted a referral to a Day Hospital program, because I thought I would be magically better in 8 weeks and go back to school like nothing happened. I started attending classes in February, and relapsed immediately. I still only cared about food and calories and weight. I dropped all my classes in late March or early April because I didn’t have the mental capacity to learn anything. I returned to the Day Hospital program in April. While there, I decided to return to my original university, as it was closer to my home so my parents would be nearby and the trigger of commuting would be gone. This school doesn’t have a writing program, so I intended to double-major in Math and English.

2015-2016

I managed to mostly maintain my recovery through the Summer. I met Jenn in the Fall. She made me happy and was a great motivation for recovery. I’m still getting over our breakup, so I’ll just say the recovery stuck and Jenn did not. I also decided to only major in Math, as that meant graduating with a BSc instead of a BA, and the English courses at this school are not remotely writing-related.

2016-2017

Jenn broke up with me a few days before classes started in September, so I started the term suicidal. I was in the hospital a few times for overdosing, and was very nearly admitted as a psychiatric inpatient. I managed to get my shit together just in time, and got through the term. In the Winter, my roommate was admitted inpatient, and everything was about her for months. I sound unsupportive and I honestly am, but I had zero support and she was incredibly selfish during this time. I don’t want to get into the details, but our friendship became very toxic, and it was all very difficult for me. I made no changes to my program this year, believe it or not.

After 6 years of undergrad, I will (if all goes to plan) finally receive my degree in 2018. That degree will tell the world that I came to university and I learned about math. And I used to take comfort in knowing it wouldn’t say anything else. Like the fact that it took me 6 years to achieve, or the fact that I changed my mind on my program 20394 times, or the fact that I entered school wanting to be a missionary, or the fact that I lost a year of school to complete eating disorder treatment. But today, I kind of wish my degree wouldn’t just say I learned math. I wish it would say that I learned where I stand on religion, how to survive when I don’t want to, how to cope in unhealthy ways, how to cope in healthy ways, how to break and then put myself back together, how to love, the fact that I love women, what heartbreak feels like, how to put my life back together a second time, what I really want to do with my life, and how to work towards the life I really want. Because I learned all those things, and looking back, I wouldn’t change my path one bit, because those struggles and setbacks and detours made me grow into the person I am today. And I learned things about myself and the world that I will use for the rest of my life. So my undergrad hasn’t been conventional, but thank god it hasn’t been.

Sarah

Feeling Positive

My desire to write is typically inversely correlated to my mood, turning my blog into a heap of depression. But right this second, I am feeling genuinely happy, and I want to write about it. This may be related to the fact that I should be studying, but regardless, here is happy Sarah.

I feel obligated to mention that objectively, my life hasn’t gotten much better. My roommate is out of the hospital, but our relationship is irreversibly damaged, and we have decided to live apart next year (aka May 1st). The Summer is a terrifying swirl of unknowns; I don’t know where I will live, where I will work, who I will hang out with, or whether I will enjoy my classes. So it’s an anxiety-provoking time, which conveniently follows a Wellbutrin increase (which is great for mood, not so much for anxiety). Blah blah negativity blah.

But today, right this moment, I feel happy. Maybe meditating for the past 6 days has caused me to achieve enlightenment, but I somehow doubt it.

Today is a snow day (because Canada), so I get to spend the day curled up in my apartment. If it didn’t lower my mood long-term, I would spend every day like this. Fortunately, I can enjoy this day indoors guilt-free with the certainty that I will resume my usual activities tomorrow.

I planned to go to the gym today, so I did something resembling a home workout with moderate kitten interference, because I want those gains. Then I showered and got right back into my cozy pajamas. Then I did my daily chores (feeding the cat, laying out tomorrow’s outfit, etc.) and meditated. The only thing left to accomplish today is studying for my midterm tomorrow, but I’m already feeling fairly confident about it.

So here I am, feeling clean and warm in my cozy pajamas, mindful and full of endorphins, hanging out with my cat and reading about commutative rings. Everything about this day brings me joy, which is something I haven’t felt in a while, so I want to appreciate it while it’s here.

I am facing very stressful situations later this week, and the uncertainties about the Summer will continue to cause anxiety, but right this second, I feel joy.

I don’t recognize myself and have strong urges to insert a bitter, cynical comment. But the things that make me cynical and bitter will still be around when this joy passes, so right now, I’m just going to enJOY it. I’m so funny.

Sarah

Fuck it- Let’s do something exciting

I remember being an anxious person as early as I have memories at all. Needless to say, I’m not a huge fan of excitement.

I enjoy math because, for the most part, there’s only one correct answer. I enjoy knitting because it’s repetitive and straightforward. I like crosswords and Sudoku and basically anything you can do in bed while wearing pajamas. I love cats, because they’re as happy as I am to be a homebody. I like to do safe, predictable things, with my anxious thoughts providing more than enough excitement on their own.

But avoiding anxiety isn’t living. It’s cowering inside my tiny comfort zone, waiting for nothing to happen, but why? I don’t want to spend my life knitting and doing math and petting cats. Okay, that actually sounds amazing, but that’s not all I want to do. I want to be adventurous. I want to take risks. I want to be an exciting person.

So tonight, I’m going to do that. And I have to announce it, or I will 100% change my mind. I have been meaning to go to a gay bar in Toronto for months- possibly over a year. But my ex was no fun and my best friend always has some reason she can’t go. So I’m going to go alone. The bus ride will be 1.5 hours both ways at best, and I’ll be out at least 4-5 hours past my bed time, and I might have to dance, and holy shit my heart is beating so quickly.

But what’s the worst that could happen? I could get kidnapped or assaulted, or I could get too drunk to find my way home, or I could be so horrifically rejected that I fall into a deep(er) depression and never recover. Deep breath. Okay.

What’s the best that could happen? I make cool friends and find the love of my life and learn that I enjoy club dancing and say “fuck you” to my GAD, OCD, and SAD all at once. That’s pretty cool.

I won’t know which of these will happen unless I try. And I have handled some pretty shitty things… I think I can handle this. My heart is currently beating out of my chest… not sure when I became so terrified of living. But anyways, I will update you guys later. Still over 12 hours until this even happens, but the emotional preparation must begin now.

Sarah

UPDATE: GOT TOO SCARED OF GETTING KIDNAPPED AND/OR NOT BEING ABLE TO NAVIGATE HOME FROM TORONTO DRUNK. GOING TO LOCAL GAY BAR. SAME THING BASICALLY THOUGH.

Overreaction

My mood has always depended on the little things.

This fact is often helpful. If I’m slowly dying from an eating disorder, but I bought cute boots and my coffee is delicious, then I’m in a good mood.

Unfortunately, the inevitable flip side is that if everything in my life is going well, but my bus is five minutes late, it’s a disaster.

Today is an example of the latter case. Sort of. Pretty much everything is going well for me right now. I’m making friends, I’m earning good grades, I’m getting #thosegains around three times a week at the gym. I also feel incredibly lonely a lot of the time, and my depression is much worse than I would like. But I’m not overdosing anymore, so my doctors are thrilled.

Anyways, here is the actual story. I made a burger for dinner and put it in my room while I used the bathroom. I knew Zoloft (my cat) wasn’t in my room, so I figured I had time before she tried to eat it. I came out of the bathroom and looked around for the cat, and my roommate told me she put Zoloft in my room because she was digging in the garbage. I ran into my room to find Zo eating my burger. So that went in the garbage and I had no dinner.

This story probably sounds like a bummer, a minor inconvenience. But tears are streaming down my face right now and I am considering just taking some Ativan and calling it a night.

Here is the event in my brain. I am exhausted. It has been a relatively long day. I’m really not feeling great emotionally. I came home feeling weak, and looking forward to eating. I spent around ten minutes making this burger, which is about nine minutes longer than I usually spend preparing a meal, and I was going to eat it in my room and watch YouTube videos. This was going to make me feel okay. I was in the bathroom for maybe thirty seconds, and now all of that is gone.

I could go make another burger and continue with my plans ten minutes later than I had anticipated. But instead I’m crying in my bed without dinner because that wouldn’t be the same. My expectation of eating THAT burger and watching YouTube videos and being happy is gone. And I did nothing to deserve this.

I understand how unreasonable I am being. I don’t understand why I am reacting this way. But I am. And I have done this before.

Maybe I have been approaching this breakdown all day, and this seemingly- innocuous event was “the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

Maybe my happiness is just fragile, always a cat-eating-a-burger away from shattering and becoming depression and loneliness and sadness.

Maybe this is a symptom of my Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder,  which had irreversibly fixated on having THAT burger when and how I planned to have it.

Maybe my control issues have been triggered by this sudden change of plans. And the fact that I can return from a trip to the bathroom to find a different reality than the one I had expected is what’s crushing me.

Like I said, I have done this before. When I was younger, I would attribute my extreme reactions to something “serious” happening in my life at that time. And adults understood. My childish meltdown was the outcome of bottled and displaced emotions originally caused by a “real” problem. I have a specific memory of getting unreasonably angry with my friend Lacie on the same day that my dad was moving out. I remember crying to my mom that “I don’t want daddy to move out.”

But that wasn’t why I was upset. I was just angry with Lacie. And I always felt that I was lying when I blamed my emotions on a larger problem. Even today, I don’t feel like ongoing stressors finally caught up with me. I feel like I wanted that burger.

So, I don’t know why I reacted this way. Maybe there is some meaningful psychological reason, or maybe I’m just a piece of shit who flips out over nothing. Either way, it feels like shit.

Sarah

Great Fucking Night

Warning: Author is tipsy. Reader discretion is advised.

My sarcasm game in the title is strong.

Hello, everybody. It has been a little bit since I’ve written. I think I always say that.

I’m pissed. I’m fucking pissed at everyone and everything and I hate it. Tonight is Math and Stats pub night (Sorry, I can’t be tamed). I had to miss the last Math and Stats pub night because my ex went and rounded up a whole group of her friends to go with her. I was determined to go this time, and I still am. My roommate agreed to go with me earlier this week, but she’s having a pathetic meltdown because of a midterm she knew was today when she agreed to come with me.

I have OCD. I get incredibly triggered when plans are changed on me. So I know I’m being a colossal fucking bitch, but how about you rally because it’s a midterm? The professor uses different grading schemes, so that midterm doesn’t even need to count. Get a grip. She didn’t even tell me she wasn’t going with me anymore until I asked.

I have been looking forward to this event all week because I have zero time to socialize ever. And now I’m going alone and I may not know anybody and my ex may or may not be there, but that’s neat. Did I mention I have Social Anxiety Disorder? So my roommate wrote a midterm that doesn’t even count, and that is grounds to trigger everything.

Not to mention the fact that I am actually lonely as fuck. I miss having somebody so much, and it’s incredibly hard to meet queer women because they’re a much smaller proportion of the population than straight men. Part of me just wants to take some guy home to feel better about my life, but I’m really not about that life right now. Unless maybe they’re trans and I don’t have to deal with a penis. I’m being really inappropriate; I apologize.

I’m just really fucking sad and everybody is letting me down which was my entire fucking childhood because I’m an idiot. Wish me luck at finding somebody to love me because I’m going to be a sad, pathetic asshole until then.

 

Sarah.

PS: Probably more drunk than tipsy at this point. Let’s pretend I live in a timezone where it isn’t 6:46. It was 7:46 at this time a couple of weeks ago? I’ll stop.

Yet Another Update

Again, it has been a while.

I really need to work on this “having a blog” thing. This would involve not dropping my laptop on cement and doing anything productive on the weekends. Anyways, I don’t remember exactly when I last posted here, but some things have certainly changed since.

After a long, anxiety-provoking, self-hatred-inducing job search, I finally landed a Summer Student position in the office of a non-profit. I believe my position is being funded by Canada Summer Jobs, so thank you Mr. Trudeau. I don’t hate working here, and sometimes, I even enjoy it. Needless to say, that makes this the best job I have ever had. Despite the monotony and lack of free-time that come with 9-5 work, I do enjoy the routine. And being able to work actually makes me like myself a little bit. Obviously, it is also nice that I can pay off last year’s tuition in time to register for this year’s classes.

I have also moved out of my dad’s house, and have been living in a basement apartment with my best friend for almost a month now. I can’t begin to describe how much happier I am to have my own space. Home actually feels like a warm, secure place now. I no longer have to strain to get along with my passive-aggressive stepmom, or constantly fear irrational anger from my dad.

In the past month or so, I have started two new medications. First, I started taking Lyrica. (I was told I would be prescribed Gabapentin, but allegedly they’re very similar medications for Fibromyalgia with off-label anxiety uses so whatever) I think this helped to control my anxiety, but my depression worsened when I began working. I am enjoying my job as something temporary, but being around my real-adult coworkers made me realize that one day I will likely be doing this for the rest of my life. Showing up to an office everyday for decades just feels horribly unfulfilling, so this line of thought lowered my mood considerably. I was then prescribed Welbutrin as an addition to my Effexor/ Lyrica cocktail. Welbutrin ruined my sleep for about a week, but I think it’s working well now, and I am feeling good.

That’s it for updates today. I am actually at work right now, pretending to be busy as I type this post into an e-mail I will send to myself to upload later. I have had little to do today, a definite anomaly, so I promise all my talk about enjoying my job is genuine. Anyways, my new laptop has arrived at my dad’s house, so I will be able to post again soon, ideally on my own time.
Sarah