“Celebrate your small victories”, they say.
Well, getting out of bed has been the biggest struggle lately, so everyday I make it to the kitchen is a good day. Except that’s not good enough for me. In my view, That’s a very low standard to keep. Especially if you were to consider the person I was a few months ago – waking up early, being productive, studying a lot regardless of classes, working, learning new things.
A better day is when I make it beyond the kitchen and I leave the house. A great day is when I not only go to my German class but also don’t cancel a date or something.
Lowest. Standards. Ever.
A few weeks ago, I got sick.
It started out as just a cold, then the thing escalated and my body went weird. Not good, funny weird. But desperately questioning “what the hell is happening to my body and my head” weird. At first, it was the extra 2 or 3h of sleep. I went from needing 6h/day to sleeping about 8, 9h… 12h. And feeling tired the entire day afterwards.
Then, it was the “I’m so exhausted, I can’t even leave my bed”. I try, I swear to God. I try hard. I think, “Okay, this is it, you’re gonna get out of bed, you’re going to make a yummy breakfast like you’d been doing before, then you’re gonna go to class, then cook a yummy lunch/dinner, work, study and invest some time on your creative side”.
Afterwards, came the crying. While walking the streets, tears will start pouring out of my eyes without being connected to any sad thoughts or whatever. And then, because I’m crying, I try to find out why, so I start thinking sad thoughts. Snow ball alert. I had a rather pleasant Monday this week and then on my way home, I was just miserable. I cried during the entire tram ride home. When I had finally arrived, I collapsed. Pacing back and forth in my room trying to take deep breaths and calm myself led to sitting on the floor curled up in a little ball grasping for air, drowning in a gazillion thoughts. What the hell is happening. I was eating healthy food. Exercising. Doing it all properly. Creating. Studying. How did I get here. I wanna go back to Brazil. I want my dog.
I went to a GP and she couldn’t figure out why I am feeling this way.
She said, “Maybe your body is still trying to recover from before”, but I know my body and that is not it. I hate this. I’m very connected to my body and always know what’s going on. Except… Not lately.
Oh, and there is the guilt.
- Sofia, you’re spending so much money on your German course and your rent in Düsseldorf, you shouldn’t spend the day in bed.
- Don’t bug your friends with this stupid drama, they have their own lives to worry about.
- Don’t tell your mum because she’s far away and you’ll only make her worry.
- Don’t tell anyone, actually, nobody needs to worry about you, you’re a grown ass woman who can take care of herself.
Sometimes, I’m so exhausted, it takes me forever to fall asleep.
When I do, I have night terrors. On Sunday, I dreamed that a friend I met here in Düsseldorf had been hit by a bus and died while I watched it all from down the block. It. Sucked.
Christmas is coming and I’m trying to keep myself busy by preparing presents and letters to my friends because I don’t ever want any of them to feel the way I’m feeling lately. Scared. Terrified. Lonely. Like a burden. I really want this to be all over soon – I really loathe not being all independent and productive. I loathe the feeling that I need help. And it’s been, what, over a month now?
Think I’m writing this to say: If a friend of yours is drifting away (and you haven’t done anything stupid that’d cause it, ofc), don’t pressure them into keeping you updated all the time/always. Life in Europe is not this great, romantic, movie-like thing. It’s simply life. Has its ups and downs. And being pressured into always being happy fucking sucks.
Don’t pressure your friends, but also don’t let them isolate themselves. Sometimes, I only get through the day because my closest friends shoot a “How’s it going?” actually expecting an honest answer, after weeks without us talking to each other. It’s comforting to know that they got my back, despite the distance and the random periods of “silence”. Chances are, though, that I’ll say everything is fine because I don’t want to burden anyone…