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Napping Was My Coping Mechanism of Choice

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It wasn’t until Friday night that I realized I hadn’t been taking care of myself. Until then, I just thought it was a rough few weeks. A rough couple of months. A rough semester.

Plenty of people I know were also having “off” semesters – boring, draining, confusing, just overall off-putting. I attributed my feelings to some universal disruption that was causing everyone to feel weird.

And then, next thing I knew, I was sobbing on my roommates bed — “couldn’t breathe” sobbing. I was crying over absolutely nothing, and absolutely everything. I had finally collapsed under the weight of my own emotions and I was lucky enough to have some good friends by my side. In the moment I fell apart, I realized it was because I had been putting no effort into keeping myself together – I was always just napping.

This was my regular Monday-Wednesday-Friday routine for the semester:

6:40 a.m. – Wake up (not mentally.)

7:15 a.m. – Get on the bus.

8 a.m. – Try to pay attention in my soil science class.

9 a.m. – Go to work and drown in dishes and boredom.

11 a.m. – Fall asleep in physics class and genuinely feel bad about it.

12 p.m. – Take the bus home.

12:30 p.m. – Sleep for hours

The fact that I did this every single day, without fail, didn’t strike me as a problem. I justified it by telling myself “it’s OK, I had an 8 a.m. class,” or “There’s nothing else to do,” or “I didn’t get enough sleep last night.”

Well, there’s always something else to do — I just didn’t want to do it. I would put off homework, decide I didn’t need to study, tell myself I could eat lunch later, etc. I began to prioritize sleeping as more important than my actual life. It wasn’t depression, at least not yet. But it sure did feel like the beginning of a downward slope into what I went through roughly one year ago – mild depression without even knowing it.

I began to notice I could no longer make it through a day without taking a nap – no matter how well I slept the night before. It was a routine, a habit, an addiction and I had to do it in order to be happy. Because that’s what I was… right? I was happy?

Deep down I knew I wasn’t, but I sure as hell didn’t think depriving myself of sleep was going to make me any happier. So I decided to look at any possible external causes and I found my friends. Or rather, the instability I had been feeling with them since the beginning of the semester.

There was stress to find housing for our senior year – we decided to move closer to campus/downtown so we could better enjoy our lovable city before we graduate. But we couldn’t find a place that would fit us all, and that induced immense stress, the issue of splitting up being the largest stress-induced problem we faced.

There was talking behind backs, there was deciding who didn’t want to live with who, there was lying, there was deceiving and there was a serious decline in trust. This tested us and some of us held on to each other more tightly than others. Our little friend family started to feel more like a battleground and people were choosing sides, myself included. The worst part was that not everyone was even aware it was happening.

It was awful. I am the kind of person that makes very meaningful, but very few, lasting relationships. I am an introverted extrovert, and I have social anxiety, so it’s not exactly easy for me to create quick, purely for fun friendships with people I just meet in class or at work. My friend family was really all I had and I loved them, but they seemed unreliable and I didn’t know what to do.

So I took naps and funneled all of my waking energy into my friends. I spent no time on myself. I did nothing I enjoy. I became less and less invested in my own commitments. I stopped going to some of my classes and I found that even my horseback riding was struggling. And I seriously took a whole lot of naps.

And this continued to grow worse and worse until finally, on Friday night, my mind and body had enough. I was crying over nothing and everything at the same time. And it was so terrible and so wonderful. I laid in bed between my two friends as my world came tumbling down and they loved me through it.

It was exactly what I needed. It made me understand I cannot get through these external problems if I am not taking care of my internal ones first.

Now, instead of taking a nap I make myself do something. Anything. Sometimes I just take a shower, sometimes go for a walk, or even just eat and watch TV. I am reading and writing again. I picked up my film camera for the first time in months, even though I can’t develop for another month or so. I am preparing for a trip to Indonesia that will reignite my love for nature and motivate me to do well in my classes. I still take the occasional nap (what college student doesn’t,) but I don’t have the same dependency as before.

I am remembering that my relationship with myself is the most important thing. Just because I don’t have a bad relationship with myself doesn’t mean I have a good one either. For these past few months I didn’t even have a relationship with myself. But now I’m working on it.

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Thinkstock photo via Liderina

Originally published: March 23, 2017
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