On hiatus and mental health

Hey, look who it is! The blogger! She has returned from her hiatus! Well, sort of…

So it has been a couple of months since my last post. There have been several reasons for that, but I think it can mostly be boiled down to mental health issues.  Let me explain:

Where have I been?

I do not know if I have mentioned this, but now I am going to anyway: I suffer from anxiety and depression and have been so for a couple of years and at the beginning of January I had a mental crash. The first week of the year I spent dealing with crushing sadness and numbing in my entire body. Worst of all, it made me unable to read. I tried, I really tried, but every time I tried the text might as well have been in Greek or Hebrew because I did not understand anything. This happened right as I started my written exam in Text Analysis meaning that for the first week of the two weeks I had to complete it, I could not do any reading, setting me back severely. I managed to finish it in time, but most of it was written within the last 60 hours before it had to be handed in and a month later I found out that I just barely passed it. This is impressive considering that I wrote about 18 pages in less than three days, but as a very perfectionist type of person, I was not at all satisfied with that, especially because I felt like I had been thoroughly screwed over by my brain. I knew I could do better, but it was too late now.

After I had handed in my exam I had a short period of time feeling normal, but then the reading trouble returned. It felt like this very specific type of cognitive dissonance that affected my reading only. Reading did one of three things to me: Exhausting me, gave me a headache or gave me really short attention span. And the more I tried to force it the more frustrated I became, making it even worse.
This is also not optimal seeing that I am a literature student and have a tonne of reading to do almost constantly and as a result, I got very far behind in every course. Worst of all, one of my courses this semester has been “Study of Major Work” in which we have been working with Ulysses by James Joyce. That book is hard enough to read as it is, but it got 100 times worse because of the cognitive dissonance. I fell so behind on it and am only now catching up because it is Easter and I have some time to actually catch up. I would have preferred to spend the holiday reading ahead, but there you go.

I am finally starting to get rid of the cognitive dissonance, but it caused severe impostor syndrome in me, leading to so much anxiety in me that I had to go home during one of my lectures because I almost had a panic attack. This is a first for me, I have had anxiety during lectures before, but never to that extent. For the first month of this semester or something like that I really feared that I had to drop out, which felt like such a defeat for me. I cried at least once a day for well over a month.

So what changed it?

Well, first of all, I finally started going to therapy. My therapist has been really good so far and has validated me in a lot of the conclusions I have made over the years regarding my anxiety and depression as well as making me realise other stuff about my mental health.
Second, I gave up on getting my homework done as long as I felt this way and tried to warm myself up by reading a lot of graphic novels and comics. It both helped me ease into reading without overwhelming myself and made me feel accomplished from actually finishing books. The first time I actually finished reading one of the short stories I had to read for one of my courses I almost cried with relief because I could finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Third, and this specifically has to do with Ulysses, I found audiobooks for some of the bigger works I had to do. Audiobooks and I are not that good friends because my short attention span makes it hard for me to concentrate on them if I am doing anything else, and if I do not do other stuff while listening I will just end up falling asleep. But if I listen to them while I read a physical copy, I cannot escape the text and lose focus too much. And because I could see how long each chapter sound file was it also gave me a set time for how long reading that chapter would take so I knew how much time to set aside for it.

In regards to my anxiety and depression, I would love to say that I am currently in a good headspace, but that would not be entirely true. I am definitely in a better state than I have been for months, but… it all feels like a very rough battle right now, doing simple everyday stuff feels impossible a lot of the time and I would wish I could stop time for me just for long enough for me to recover completely from that mental crash which started in January. All in all, though, I am getting better.

What does this mean for the blog?

I am not quite sure yet. I would love to say that I am back for good, but I never really know when another episode like that one hits me and there will probably be a time when it will happen again. I cannot even say that there will be new posts soon, as uni is taking a lot of my time recently; this post was simply made because I wanted to explain my absence for the past three months or so. Nevertheless, I will try to make time to do some posts to queue to breathe some life back into this thing. If I fail I apologize, this year has been kind of rough for me so far and I prioritize getting better over feeling obligated to this blog. Hope you will stick around for when I get better.

Sincerely, Neko McEvil


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