This September, I moved back to New York City, where I’m in school, and began online classes. With the new expectation that we should be performing our best, even with the restraints of the pandemic, my hard-won equilibrium from the summer faded. I missed large chunks of days from constant dissociation. I felt inhuman.
It took me about a month to recognize something was really wrong. My therapist asked me if I had any thoughts of death during one of our sessions. At that moment, I realized that I had been repressing serious mental health issues because I wanted to be “okay.”
I debated dropping out of school for the semester. I just couldn’t seem to deal with my responsibilities. I texted a friend because I needed to vent, and I knew that she would to listen. She called me and spent her night helping me make a plan for my mental health.
As we talked I realized that, in an effort to keep up with internships, student club boards, running my handcrafted jewelry business, and writing for pleasure—all on top of being a student and trying to manage my health– I had put too much on my plate. Since that conversation, I’ve been making an effort to emphasize self-care over my other responsibilities. I have been able to get more done, and I’ve been feeling better about my life, my future, and the world around me. I would still consider myself depressed, but I’m functioning. It’s the small victories that count.
I’ve been making a conscious effort to take every opportunity I can to find joy. If I don’t have anything due the next day, I spend my nights cooking for myself, doing an activity I enjoy, looking to my community to find comfort.
Now, even though I’m stuck inside for most of the day, I tell myself that I’m not alone. This pandemic has been difficult for so many and what we are able to produce or accomplish during this crisis does not determine our value.
For anyone in a crisis text HOME to 741741 to connect with a Crisis Counselor.
Rachel Fadem is a Lilith intern and NYU sophomore studying journalism and gender and sexuality studies. She hopes to one day get paid to write about rape culture and sex work through a feminist lens. When she isn’t busy with school or working at Lilith, you can find Rachel listening to the You’re Wrong About podcast and making earrings.