I am broken. Shattered into a million pieces.
There was a definite shift before and after the “big break,” but looking back on it, I can see that the big break was destined to happen some time.
I always did well in school. I felt like it was my only positive characteristic. People tell me I’m smart, but I think my decent memory fools people. That, and I’m very analytical. Too a fault.
Before the big break, I was always nervous around people. I was depressed. I had suicidal urges.
So what changed?
Well, I put a lot of effort into hiding what I felt. I pretended like I was fine. I wanted my family to think I had recovered from years of teenage angst. I didn’t want anyone to worry about me. Not that they would’ve, anyway. Any time I tried to ask for help, my family essentially replied that I was being melodramatic and should just get over it. When I was in college, I also didn’t want my family to say, “I told you so.” I majored in English, and my family was not a fan of this choice. My parents are the sort who would claim everything would’ve been fine if I’d followed their advice and chosen a more practical major.
I managed everything without medication. I continued to do well in school. I concentrated on my work, and everything worked out. I thought that I could do this perpetually and be all right.
Then came the fall of my senior year. I was working on my honors thesis and applying to graduate schools. Some people might think that perhaps my anxiety over these endeavors and future changes led to what followed. But I’ve experienced other major changes without having a “big break.” I don’t think that’s it. It may’ve catalyzed the reaction, but it didn’t cause it.
I suddenly felt apathetic. I literally cared about nothing except making sure people didn’t see that I cared about nothing. I thought I would eventually snap out of it, but it went on for the entire semester. I wasn’t satisfied with my work, but apparently it was still fine.
Then I went home for Christmas, and shortly after Christmas, for some reason I lost it. I hid by myself for a little while and came out to my family to pretend all was fine after I’d yelled at them. But then I suddenly started crying again and confessed I thought I was having some sort of breakdown. I mentioned the hellish months of apathy. What hurts is that my family would’ve just gone on as if nothing had happened if I hadn’t broken down again. They would possibly have used the incident to show how unreasonable I could be. When I had these spells of anger, they never asked if I was okay. They would merely tell me that I was being stupid.
So began my first foray into medication, but my medical history could be a whole other entry.
I was accepted into a great graduate program, and supposedly I was seen as one of the more promising recruits. I had to start teaching, but I’d cross that bridge when I got to it. It wasn’t like I’d never given a presentation before. I eventually warmed up to teaching though I was (and still am) not that good at it. (I got worse student evaluations than my peers.)
I thought everything would be fine, that the change of scenery and beginning to pursue my dreams would help. I had difficulty adjusting to the much bigger load of work, but so did all of the other first-years. I figured I would get used to it. The spring semester happened, and I actually did pretty well.
But there was still that nagging problem. Ever since spring of my senior year, I’d felt blocked every time I tried to write. I knew what I wanted to say, but I couldn’t do it. I could see that the result wasn’t ideal, and I knew I was capable of doing better. Yet I couldn’t. I got the same sorts of comments on my papers: great ideas, but the writing needs work. I was normally a good writer, which helped me to excel in English.
I kept thinking it would just go away, but then it didn’t. Then fall of my second year arrived, and I was still having the same problems. They were excusable in a first-year but not in a second-year. I made plans to kill myself on my birthday, but of course I didn’t follow through on them. I didn’t even try.
So eventually I found myself crying hysterically in front of a professor and talking to the advisor about my situation. This advisor claimed that if I was having difficulty there must be something wrong because I was quite capable. I remember wondering how she could possibly know that given my checkered history there so far.
I saw some therapists that weren’t helpful. I decided not to continue on to the Ph.D program, though I still wonder if I did so because I foresaw the rejection that was coming.
I started Wellbutrin in the spring, and I think that’s what saved me. I finally was able to focus again. I could feel myself developing the old connection I’d had with my work. I did well, which was needed if I ever planned on trying to go for a Ph.D. So if I ever apply for one, I could explain overcoming my obstacles and yadda yadda yadda.
I’m afraid that my disconnected state might return if I ever quit taking Wellbutrin. I don’t like being that dependent.
After the “big break” itself was over, I wasn’t the same person. I had the same interests, but I no longer feel that I can take the Ph.D path. And thus I feel like my life is a failure.
People say that’s an overgeneralization, but consider. I finally broke. If it happened once, it’ll probably happen again. I’m too timid and nervous to actually be useful to any employer. I don’t have enough confidence to project authority. I’m awkward around people. I don’t have any interest in career paths that those typically labeled as awkward go into. I’m not an articulate speaker.
It seems that I always screw up everything I try to do.
No, there doesn’t seem to be a place for me in this world. I don’t have what it takes to be worthy, to stay afloat.