Depression is rarely a valid excuse for an absence from class. Which is why in the past semester I had quite a few “colds” and “injuries” that needed immediate medical attention. While these medical issues were pressing enough to let me out of class, the fact that I couldn’t drag myself out of bed long enough to attend precept was not. I was absent for quite a few classes this semester and several months from this blog, as I was struggling enough just trying to finish assignments and take care of myself.
Let me say this: there is nothing fun or romantic about depression. It sucks not having the energy to get out of bed, to put on the clothes you used to love, to no longer enjoy things that brought you joy in the past, to get any of your work done. The worst part is that it’s easy to slip into a depression and not know how you got there or how you can get out of it. I’m lucky in that I have mental health resources surrounding me at Princeton, so when I finally felt bad enough to reach out to professionals, I had them at my fingertips.
I went to a therapist outside of Princeton’s on-campus healthcare system this semester, who took one look at me and diagnosed me with PTSD and co-morbid depression. Perhaps not a surprising diagnosis looking back, but one that shocked me at the time. I had been working with another therapist on anxiety and depression for months and now I had to deal with another diagnosis??
After a semester of cognitive-behavioral therapy, both my PTSD and my depression are much better, but I’ve realized that this struggle with mental health is not a one-and-done deal. I’ll be working towards bettering my state of mind for the rest of my life, and while taking a break once in a while is restorative, being fully absent will do nothing for me.
So, with the several month absence from lipstick and ink explained, I am back and hoping that the second time is the charm. I’ll be writing some more about my recent mental health struggles, about my upcoming summer in NYC working to help with housing for the mentally ill, and about life in general!