- Recognize you’re spiraling
When you notice the clouds clinging to the bottom of the plane, when your room is dirty dishes and piles of unwashed clothes, or worse, somehow, washed clothes you haven’t put away. When you sleep for nineteen hours a day and you hope the people living with you don’t say anything. It’s not quite a spiral, it’s a gnawing at the middle part of your back, the part you can’t reach.
But it doesn’t start like that. It’s starts like, waking up to your alarm but making the decision to sleep through class anyways. Or, like, ignoring text messages and crossing the street prematurely to avoid speaking to a friend. Being a master at avoiding. Avoiding the weird stomach pain that you get remembering that class you skipped. Avoiding thinking about food because you haven’t eaten in 24 hours. Avoiding sleep, that one is hard for you. There’s a healthy level of concern. Are you feeling down? From your mother. Are you sure you don’t want me to pick something up for you? From your roommate, she’s going to Trader Joe’s. The girl in your French class you text compulsively for notes isn’t ignoring you yet, so you don’t fail. You’re ok. It’s a slump.
And then, from there, a little worse. It’s not a gnawing now, it’s bloody. You sleep on your back and try to ignore it. You muster up some energy to shower, you look at yourself in the mirror. Someone teary eyed and pimply is looking at you, we’re here again aren’t we?
- Try to clean up
Your phone reminds you that you have two weeks until you go home again. Two weeks to get back to yourself, you don’t know where that is. You think about time a lot. You think about how long it’s been since you’ve taken out the garbage or how long that half-full mug has been sitting on your nightstand. You think about how much time you have to catch up with your peers, maybe to escape them.
You wonder if nihilism is for white people. You can’t imagine yourself being nonchalant towards human suffering, except maybe your own. You know that rationalizing the universe will only further the meaningless you feel towards your own life, but you’re okay with that. The universe doesn’t care about you; you place meaning onto yourself. You wonder if you saw God in a dream and if that’s even allowed.
You will, without a doubt, fail a class or two if things don’t change so you force yourself into the library. That’s progress. You’re reminded of who you were last month or maybe last year, it’s a blurry, but you miss her. You decide to spend two weeks find your way back to her. You pick up the pieces of you that drag along the floor when you walk and attach them back at the top of your head. The spaces between them are still open like wounds but you know they’ll scab over in time.
You grab all the clothes around the floor of your room and you conceal them, half in the hamper and half in the closet until you can see the carpet again. That’s progress. You throw away takeout boxes and dirty plates you don’t want to wash, all things you’ll regret later on but for now, progress. You text a friend back, you get lunch with your roommate.
- Reward your efforts
You’re working on being kinder to yourself. The sun rises and a part of you gets upset. You try not to miss who you were when you could use depression as an excuse for feeling inadequate. Mainly because you’re not sure if you’re still that person.
You’ve made considerable damage throughout this episode. You’ve added more weight onto yourself and the swim up to the surface is more difficult than it should be. You try not to notice people around you swimming faster.
You are covered in scars and scabs and gashes and your mouth is full of sand. Next time around you’ll speak more, maybe. Or maybe be more prepared. Have some assignments ready when you feel the gnawing start so you don’t regret skipping four classes in a row. For now, you know it’s over.
You aren’t sure if you’re crashing or landing.
Arfie is a Somali girl journalism major currently going to college in Washington, DC. She’s really passionate about superheroes, cartoons, afro-futurism, and positivity. She’s also a writer but spends most of her time trying to curate safe spaces for creative black kids and watching too much TV. Twitter // Tumblr