The 2nd year of uni is HARD!! No sh*! Sherlock!! ?
Last term did not go well, and despite my optimism coming back after Xmas, the first week back has been a struggle. I am not ashamed to admit that I am 1 in 4 people in Britain that deals with mental health issues including; depression, anxiety and PTSD. As I’m sure you can imagine, this makes being a 35 year old at university and juggling adult responsibilities, extremely tough sometimes! Right now I’m beyond exhausted thanks to a medication change and my good old friend insomnia, I barely even know if I want to be here at uni anymore. Zombie autopilot is my permanent state right now. I keep hearing, “sleep is for the weak!” But I’m 35! Damn it, grandma here can’t survive on 3 hour daytime naps and no sleep at night! I’m not 18 anymore! ?
I have to see a uni counsellor every week now, mostly because I keep threatening to quit, go home & get a real job. Apparently they consider me worth saving, ie: worth money to the uni. Today she took 1 look at me & said;
“I can see you’ve only had 2 hours sleep! Resetting your sleeping pattern hasn’t gone well this week?”
Me: “Nope! I’m existing on 2 hour naps randomly throughout the day/week, I’m dead inside!”
She believes sleep (only at night!) is the answer to all my problems. I’ve had the “sleep hygiene” talk again, which is about being conscious of your nightly habits when winding down, and actually not as creepy as it sounds. ? She also suggested listening to classical music like Bach & Mozart instead of leaving the TV sound on low (screen off). I haven’t listened to classical music since I was a child playing flute & violin. We’ve only met twice, but this woman gets me, my odd self-deprecating humour & self sabotaging habits.
It’s nice to have someone tell you that you’re not an idiot. That stupid people don’t get 1sts, especially stupid people with dyslexia & dyspraxia. That my self loathing is the problem, not my mental ability. That my soup strainer memory is likely due to exhaustion, not being thick. It’s nice to have someone tell you that after a couple of hours chatting, their impression of you is of someone bright & intelligent, when all I see is a retarded, exhausted mess.
I’ve recently switched medications after spending 7-ish years bouncing from one (SSRI) anti-depressant to another, trying to find something that helps improve my mood and ability to function, while not causing more problems with side affects. I’ve now switched to (SNRI) anti-depressants which is new for me. The transition period between two medications can come with side affects and odd things you notice, so I decided to try to explain to the counsellor what the past week has been like for me.
It’s really difficult to explain (especially to a former art teacher) what it feels like to feel creatively dead inside. I tried to explain in a blog a while ago **HERE** what it’s like to feel like you have no imagination. To not be able to dream when you sleep, only to have nightmares that are all too real. Never having any creative, new imaginative thought processes. Or what its like to become ridiculously frustrated by the inability to express yourself. To feel like you have no personality unless you are drunk. I’ve always said I’m a great production line robot, but don’t expect me to do anything unique & exciting. How do you explain to an artist what it’s like to pick up a brush & feel nothing? Empty!
Much to my surprise, there’s been a massive change and improvement in my mental health!
It’s even more difficult to communicate the feeling of the extreme sensory overload and the creative rush & excitement of my imagination returning.
Not only am I dreaming again, but my dreams are so vivid right now, I keep waking myself up talking in my sleep because they are so real! (Hope that stops *lol*) Do you know what it’s like to have the passion of music taken away from you for years, barely feeling anything? …Then suddenly laying awake at night imagining & planning what a music video would be like for each song you can’t help but keep playing on loop, just like you did when you were a child, because suddenly music invokes feelings & emotions again?? The excitement is both amazing & overwhelming, so many thoughts! Too many thoughts to sleep, I’m so tired. I’ve felt like a part of me died a long time ago & I couldn’t place when. To suddenly have that piece of yourself gifted back to you, encompassed in so many exciting feelings, emotions & memories of how you used to feel is incredible!
I have always been an advocate of medication if other methods of therapy haven’t worked, but it is so important to find the right medication for you! 1 that still allows you to hang on to your strengths & personality, yet function & drag your ass out of bed without wanting to burst into tears & give up. I’ve discovered a problem I didn’t know I had. That feeling of emptiness… Turns out I’m not dead inside, I just spent too many years with a strong important part of my personality suppressed in a way I thought was meant to be helping. I didn’t understand why I felt so empty & unable to be who I once was.
Now the noradrenaline in my brain is being tickled & stimulated, I’m overwhelmed by the return of a crazy, loud, idea filled mind that’s so busy I don’t even know where to start!
Of course it takes 4-6 weeks for a medication to fully integrate into your system & level out, so this excitement could all disappear again as fast as it came. To be honest I do hope it calms down a bit, having celebration fireworks constantly going off in your brain is exhausting! I’m torn between the need to sleep, being bored stupid by uni work & desperately wanting to enjoy feeling like my excited, childish old self again while I can, before it wears off. I’m so tired! I want, NEED to regain control of my mental health so that I can decide what I want to do with my future, be it at uni, or moving on to a new challenge.
The counsellor was almost as excited as I am about this return of creativity, saying it’s an essential part of the soul & being able to express myself in some way will be incredibly beneficial to me. But she also says all answers lie in sleep. That the ability to dream is key to mentally processing thoughts, both positive & negative & will be good for me.
I’m supposed to keep myself awake until tonight, but I’m so tired. Reset tomorrow! This past week has been too much for my poor strained old noodle. I’m too tired. I’m going to bed, got to find some classical music on Spotify or YouTube. I’ll stay awake tomorrow. Hopefully… I miss functioning in daylight.