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A Day in the Mind of an AP Student With Mental Illness

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No one said high school was easy. If it were easy, everyone would be glad to show up. The reality is that high school can be a really difficult place. The anxiety and over-analysis of every action around oneself, the depression that comes in waves, making some weeks utterly unbearable. The process of waking up and knowing it’s another day full of papers and misery.

As someone who has anxiety and depression, taking college credit classes was an extremely difficult process. I want to help others out there who may be in the middle of their year and feeling like no one else in their class understands and that there’s no point in trying anymore. I want this post to be seen by parents and teachers who are potentially confused about why their student feels the need to take rigorous classes. These thoughts are my own and I’m not sure if there are others out there with the same mindset, but if there are, I want them to know they are not alone.

The process of waking up in the morning is one of the most difficult parts of the day. Getting up knowing you’re going to a place where not even lunch makes up for the dreadful classes ahead.

First is Spanish, a class full of busy work and energetic people with little classwork to do. Sometimes it’s fun to join in on the laughter; in fact a lot of times this is a really nice way to start the day, with the positive younger students and the distraction from the other classes of the day.

But there are days when you’re suddenly irritable and angry. You don’t know where this came from, but the idea of listening to one more girl laugh about her amazing weekend sends your brain into a spiral of anger: “Why can she be happy? Why does she get a social life and I don’t?” Immediately you regret the toxic jealousy and the thoughts continue while your mind switches focus. “What’s wrong with you? Why aren’t you happy, there must be something seriously wrong with you. Why can’t you respect your peer’s happiness? Is your life really that pathetic?”

The next class is advisory. Instead of spending the time catching up on the four overdue assignments, you overanalyze the last class. Your blood is still boiling from the rage you feel towards that person. It was one laugh, but it put you in the wrong mindset for the rest of the period.

You go to lunch. You wait in an extremely long line. You look around realizing that everyone in line is with someone: friends, a boyfriend. You feel like an utter loser and look at your phone only to find it yet again, empty. You join the people at your table and feel even more alone. The only thing you can think to talk about is school. You don’t have any interests and do not get the “Star Wars” references made. You like these people, but are never invited anywhere outside of school.

You go to AP Physics. After sitting at lunch listening to your friends talk about their weighted 4.2 GPA and how they got a 94 on the test, your heart beat quickens. You know the class is hard, so hard you skip school sometimes just to study for the test the next day. You feel like a buffoon. You only get 80s and that’s because you do corrections. You feel like you should be better because all of your friends are and they’re busier.

You feel your leg start to bounce as you realize your other friend is in all AP classes, plays sports and still has time to party on the weekend. She has a higher GPA than you do and you wonder how the hell you’re supposed to compete with that.

Your thoughts carry on to APUSH (AP U.S. History) as you start to overthink the future. If you don’t do anything outside of school and your grades are worse than X’s and Z’s then how the hell are you supposed to get into college. If you don’t get into college then you’ll have to go to a state school. You view going to a state school and transferring as a failure (that’s your opinion only for yourself). You see your future as someone living in a small house with a crap job and dying alone, your body not found for months. All because there are other girls who are “better.” You realize you haven’t been focusing enough and the information didn’t click. You give up. Then you start to feel bad because there are more people like that girl and they’re sitting right by you.

You head to your college English class. You’re exhausted. You’ve ran your mouth trying to fill awkward silences, overanalyzed your entire future and only completed one of your four assignments. You do your best to pay attention in the self-paced environment, but give up. Your brain hurts and you’re done trying.

Finally, your mother picks you up. You’re absolutely exhausted. Maybe you get a fruity Starbucks drink, immediately feeling piggish and going down the mental rabbit hole again. If you drink this then you’ll be fat. You’re triglycerides are already high. You think of the girls, the pretty ones, and you get sad. Then you take a sip and you feel a little better. You’ve been drinking this drink for so long it doesn’t taste any good — but the sugar. The sugar makes you feel OK maybe a little happy. The sugar makes you feel a little less sad and that maybe you can do it all over in the morning. Just maybe.

You’re at home and you now have eight assignments. You think of the classes and all the work you have left. You equate regular classes to giving up, but your mind has moved on from homework. Maybe you get your work out and start it. Maybe you even finish it. But not today. You sit thinking. Wondering what would happen if you were to just disappear into an oblivion. You realize you are too scared and that maybe you can do better again tomorrow. You cannot stop wondering about all the possible scenarios that would happen.

You cannot stop thinking about how much you hate yourself and just wish for a moment you could be someone else. Your mind begins to numb and you blank. You turn on the TV because maybe you can feel something. If not, you can pass the time. It’s nighttime and you’ve already eaten. Yet again, another unhealthy meal to contribute to your emotional eating, knowing this plus your sedentary lifestyle is not helping your already high heart rate. Finally you go to bed exhausted, knowing your subconscious will continue thinking, but for now there is peace.

Finally, the next day arrives and you have a bunch of work to do. But maybe this day will finally prove to be different from the others.

Getty image by Sladic

Originally published: February 20, 2020
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