The “J” Agenda: Managing recent “Schedule-Absence & Disorder”

Emma J Nelson, Opinion Editor

In the past, I’ve “self-diagnosed” myself with seasonal affective disorder (SAD), better known as seasonal depression, due to my solemn behavior during certain times of the year. Specifically during the summer months, which isn’t typical for seasonal depression, but not necessarily impossible. I thought that the summer heat was the only connective tissue between these bouts of depression. It’s clear to me now that it’s not as simple of a diagnosis as that. 

The nine-day-long Thanksgiving break, the two weeks of winter break, and since the beginning of this untimely quarantine, I’ve consistently found myself down in the dumps. As we all know, these days-off occured throughout all different ranges of temperature, from a snowless 30 oF to a sunny 75 oF. So maybe it’s not the weather getting me down. 

I know that it’s not because I’m at home, seeing as I love to cave into the dark of my living room, but it has to be something.

It occured to me more recently than not that I do not function well without a schedule, and that I am terrible at giving myself one. Having a teacher set a deadline for me is one thing—I’ll have an assignment done days before its due—but asking myself to get out of bed by 8:30 a.m. despite not having an activity to get to? That’s not going to happen, not by a long shot. 

I struggle to get dressed every day because I know that my peers won’t see me. I don’t eat as well, whether it be making bad choices with what I’m consuming or not eating enough to sustain my energy, because no one is watching me. I’m not sleeping, whether it be because I don’t think I have something to wake up to or my body is simply restless due to a lack of movement throughout the day.

Something about that ungodly school bell makes me think that my days have a purpose, and that rush from class-to-class is hard to fake within the confines of my own home. I could pretend to pace through my kitchen and up my stairs to simulate a passing period, but without a destination in mind, what is the point?

I can’t force myself to be excited to get into online-learning either. I have conditioned myself to complete as much as I can within the school hours, and as such my subconscious has a difficult time comprehending that just because I’m in my house doesn’t mean I don’t have schoolwork. 

However, now knowing that I can not blame my unproductive and dismal behaviour on SAD, I do believe that it’s my general anxiety getting into my head, and I need to do my best to combat that. 

I need to remind myself that I wasn’t getting dressed and putting on make-up for my peers anyway; I was always doing it because it made me feel better, and I can continue to do that within the comfort of my own house. I need to set out a lunch for myself the night before just as I would on a school night, because my health is just as important now as it was a month ago. I need to go to bed at night and wake up in the morning with something to expect, even if it is just my morning coffee, rather than believing that nothing will come with the next day. The next day will come with the next day, and that in itself is something to look forward to. 

Finally, with the idea of online-learning on its way, I need to set aside an area of my house, other than my own room, to take my lessons in order to ensure productivity. If my bedroom is my “safe space,” then I need to remind myself that I stepped out of my comfort zone by attending my lessons every weekday, and I must do that now, as well, both to preserve the idea of the classroom and my own home.

However, the largest difference between the school day and this extended isolation is how I am behaving socially, and no matter how one’s mental health is at the beginning of this quarantine, refusing to communicate with others due to anxiety would bring anyone down. I need to make an effort to reach out to others, for my own sake and, possibly, theirs.

Whether my emotional droughts are seasonal or situational, it is important that I personally take the time to assess my surroundings and habits in an effort to limit what I let get in my way.

I implore all of you to do this as well.