Monday, October 4, 2010

Old enough to know better

Well, here I am, almost two full weeks into getting to focus my energy on school, work, and friends now that my post-graduation job search is over. Or I would be, if I had any energy or could seem to focus at all.
This started with the pretty terrible cold I developed soon after getting back from Austin, which I tried to deny for a few days because the symptoms were so much like extreme allergies, but eventually had to acknowledge when my usual antihistamine quit even making a dent. I switched to a regimen of Dayquil and Nyquil so extreme that attending class and preparing for class basically became an either/or proposition, and I mostly chose to attend class in hopes that copious note-taking would compensate for spending every spare moment asleep or close to it.

That was the start of my lethargy and my saying really dumb things, but it definitely wasn't the end. My cold is long over, and I still find myself coming home from school so incredibly tired that I literally can't bring myself to do schoolwork - or even cook, which is my usual favorite way to avoid schoolwork I don't want to do. I find myself getting grumpy over pretty much anything that requires me to lift my arms, making long to-do lists instead of taking care of little things at my usual clip. And I find myself, just like when I was on Dayquil but with much less excuse, drifting around in a fog that somehow obscures my self-censor so I wind up volunteering the most wandering, badly put, or just plain incorrect information in my classes and group meetings ALL THE TIME. All the time.

I'm so grateful for patient and generous professors, like the ones in my Modern Capitalism class who breezed past my inexplicable, crucial mistake of a famous author's identity like it was understandable when it absolutely wasn't. But I'm also still embarrassed enough to consider this a wake-up call. I know the symptoms of seasonal depression when I see them, and confusion is a big one I just haven't happened to experience before. Fatigue and irritability, meanwhile, are a pair about as familiar to me as the gray, rainy skies we've had outside all week.

So I'm calling a stop. I'm committing myself to do whatever it takes to keep this from happening. This is my third and final year at law school, and if I can't enjoy it - and be good at it, which I had really started to feel like I was - I'll never have another chance. I'm not certain what it's going to take, because I've used my phototherapy lamp nearly every day for the past two weeks and this backslide obviously still happened. But I know this much: if I can't pull myself out of this by sheer force of will in the next few days, my mental health care provider is getting a visit. I know that at Harvard, we don't mess around.

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