As someone who finds that too much free time often leads to too much free thinking time which often leads to nervous thinking, sad thinking, or general anxiety – the idea of a 3 month American University summer sent chills down my spine. Depression and illness have meant that having a month off to chill out, watch TV and war my pyjamas, only brings back memories of being ill, so it’s been my goal this summer to try stay as busy as possible.
I spent years thinking that taking on too much responsibility would just make my anxiety worse – that the clearer my schedule was, the clearer my mind would be. Tentatively throwing myself into university last year taught me that this assumption might have been wrong. For the first time in years I had classes, homework, responsibilities, a real reason to wake up in the morning. And despite feeling overwhelmed at first, getting back into routine meant that I wasn’t letting my depression run my life. I had a reason to wake up in the morning, and something I wanted to achieve. And while this wasn’t always enough to fight off a big wave of sadness or panic attack – it played a huge part in helping me fight through those days where the anxiety was just biting at my heals, begging me to turn around and listen to it.
I’ve ended up working for most of this summer, which has been incredibly helpful in not letting my mind get too stir crazy and run off to bad places. Another reason I find work helpful is that it forces me to get out of my pyjamas in the morning – which anyone who’s ever had a sad day will know can often be the hardest part. Dressing up for work makes me feel, (even if it’s only for the first half hour of the day before I pour hot Ribena down my top) like I’m a proper grown up. And if I ever find myself thinking that I’d still quite like to be wearing my pyjamas – matching tops and skirts feel like the best (and sneakiest) way to achieve that.