Day 200 – I’m broken

When 2014 ended, I was quite excited. I hadn’t had a very good year and I was looking forward to making some big changes in the upcoming year. But then my grades for the previous semester came out. I had barely made it through the threshold to remain in university, and I had failed one course. As you can imagine I was devastated, however to me it was something more. It was watching all my hopes and dreams come crashing to the ground, it was watching all my prejudices stacked up against me. I had at some point mocked people who did poorly in school – and here I was having failed a course. It seemed to me as if this was karma, a worthy slap in my face for my years of arrogance.
As someone who was extremely proud of her academic prowess, this blow was somehow unexpected. In one moment, someone had taken away my most prized possession and told me that I hadn’t deserve it in the first place. The pain that I felt drove me to spend my days curled up in my bed, I didn’t have the courage to face my friends let alone tell them of what had happened. I lived the whole semester in a lie, nobody knew that I was repeating the semester, and nobody knew of the whirlwind of emotions that I was going through every time we had a conversation about school.

Despite the crippling self-doubt, a panic attack in the middle of an exam I scraped through. And I made it to second year – 1st semester. And boy was I ready to destroy it this year, I was ready to make at least some part of 2015 a success. However, 2016 started in much the same way that 2015 did. However, the second time around the devastation had taken on new forms, my mind accepted reality much sooner this time. And instead of mourning, the grief became much more silent and painful. I would spend moments locked up in my bathroom away from family scratching myself. Sometimes I would stay awake till 3AM, because I couldn’t dare to let my mind be on its own, afraid of the incoming thoughts. And after staying up so late, I would despise myself for having stayed up so late. Despite my “best” intentions this just ended up with me getting stuck in a spiral of self-loathing. I would be enjoying a meal, and I would suddenly get jittery and have the overwhelming urge to cry and harm myself.

I am broken, and there is very little I can do about except prove myself wrong, and bring back that trophy of academic excellence that I had so proudly displayed. Yes, I still have moments like these, and in fact I had one this morning. The 1st of January had brought with it the hysteria that my mind has now come to expect. I woke up today with an unfortunately familiar feeling in the pit of my stomach, a feeling of dread and the overwhelming urge to wail. I wish I could joyfully anticipate the beginning of the new year and a new semester, but I can’t. After 3 years of sorrow my mind refuses to acknowledge that good times are on the horizon, despite there being some evidence to prove the contrary. 2/5 of my marks for this semester are out, and I have done exceptionally well in those courses, but the doubt in my mind sustains. It’s quite stubborn, just like me.

So, no it’s not a Happy New Year for me, I don’t even get the privilege of a happy 1st of January. Perhaps in a week or so, when all my marks are out and my anxiety is hopefully assailed will I be able to enjoy a happy year. But until then anxiously yours. 

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Day 140 – I’m OK

As much as I know change is a slow and steady thing, I have been afraid to post anything here without any solid progress. But I realize that defeats the purpose of this blog. I started this blog to highlight my journey, the ups and downs and all the lessons learnt along the way.

It’s been 5 weeks since school started and that means midterm season! Surprisingly this year around, I seem to have more time to myself during midterm season than I do otherwise. And I know it’s because I actually have my life together now (at least academically). What lead to the change? A friend pointed out to me a few months ago that perhaps I have ADD. I instantly dismissed this statement. After all ADD was just something people used to get ahead right? An unfair advantage, almost like steroids for academics. And of course the internet did not help with this. However, somewhere in the back of my mind this statement stuck, and I started noticing how I worked. I started keeping closer tabs on my work habits, my attention span and how I dealt with things. I started reading up on the effects of ADD and most things I came across very highly relatable. However, I was still persistent. I insisted that I didn’t have ADD. Because of course that would be the lazy way out. However, one day when my work supervisor said that I was amazing, yet didn’t concentrate enough, something clicked inside of me. This statement from supervisor hit home, it hit home far too hard.

I started doing more legitimate research, reading accounts of people who had been diagnosed. And then I did a few tests, every test resulted in a positive for Adult ADD. Of course these could have just been false positives. So, I went and spoke to a doctor, even though he did not conduct a complete psychoanalysis, he asked a few questions and checked my blood work to rule out physical factors and prescribed me Ritalin. Terrified of a misdiagnosis, I did not take this for a couple of weeks. Finally, one day I decided to give it a try, I hardly felt anything. However, as I went through the day I noticed that I was getting tasks done faster. I thought I might be placebo-ing myself, so I gave the medicine a week. The effects were very subtle, but as I started monitoring my behaviour more closely I noticed the effects. I then went off it for a week to see the difference, it affirmed my belief that the medicine was working. In small but amazing ways.

For those that don’t have ADD, Ritalin/Aderall/Vyanase makes them feel hyper focused. As if they were given a small jolt of energy, and they could do anything. Very similar to caffeine. For me Ritalin just helped me be “normal”. It helped me actually focus when I needed to, instead of me staring outside the window or doing nothing on my computer for several hours instead of studying. Even while writing this article, I got distracted several times. I hardly noticed it as time slipped by, but the simple knowledge that I have this problem has helped me understand my mind much better and handle it accordingly. That being said, the medicine didn’t instantaneously fix everything. I went through weeks where I was still struggling to do tasks and keep to schedule. I’m still chronically late to most things, and get bored while listening to people. But the medicine along with me managing my symptoms and slowly reversing a lifetime of bad habits has really changed my life. Sure that phrase might seem a little bit over the top, but for me it holds true.

That’s why whenever I see articles like this I get scared. Since, the formal tests would cost 1200$ I decided to not go through that. I wonder what if I was misdiagnosed, and then I proceed to do all the online testing I can find. I look up ADD to understand it better, and the affirmation helps me feel a bit calmer. Everyone suffers from concentration problems once in a while, but if they’re holding your life back then maybe something is wrong. After having drifted very easily through high school, it would’ve been easy to blame my university problems on a lack of good study habits, and in part that is true. I did have abysmal study habits, however when good study habits, being 0n probation, and being positive that I’m mentally capable enough to handle the material didn’t have any results I think it is safe to say that something else was up. ADD people also tend to have depression and anxiety. Since puberty I have suffered from “mini breakdowns”, I would ignore these and forget about them. But in college I realized this wasn’t ok. The medicines have helped me deal with this as well.

This has been difficult for me to accept, and even more difficult to write about. I wish there was more positive literature on this. However, everyone seems to be lost in the abuse because of Aderall and other stimulants. I’d like to remind them that this isn’t a fault of the drug, but rather an abuse of the system. An abuse of trust between a doctor and a patient. It is because of these people that mental health illnesses tend to be dismissed. So, I’d like to call attention to the good side of these drugs, the life changing side of these drugs.

 

Day 80: I left the box

I recently took a trip to New York City, alone. Despite the well intentioned cries of, “It’s not safe!” from loved ones, I somehow managed to make it there and have the time of life. This might have seemed like a random tourist excursion to most, but for me it was a way of establishing some sense of independence and confidence. After having grown up in a household where “you’re our responsibility till you’re your husbands responsibility” was an often chanted thing, a solo trip seemed like a thing that would never happen. But to my great surprise it didn’t take much to convince my parents that this was safe and I would be ok.

I like to believe that over the last couple of years I have changed as a person, I have grown and become more confident. But I wanted to check if this change in personality was just situational, in that I hadn’t really changed or grown, but had just gotten comfortable in the environment that I was in. I also wanted to spend the money that I had earned this summer towards buying something that would be useful to me. After debating over buying a roomba, and realizing that they weren’t as useful as they seem to be, especially with my 400sqft apartment, I was in a bit of a dilemma as to how to spend some of m earnings this summer. I finally decided to gift myself an experience instead of a physical object.

Roaming the streets of NYC alone was one of the liberating experiences I’ve ever had. While most people are there with a group of friends, partners, parents the experience of seeing a city just for myself was powerful. I didn’t need to rush out of a place, because my travel buddies felt that we were spending too much time there. I didn’t need to spend more than 5 minutes in Times Square, just because one of my travel buddies felt that it was iconic and an experienced not to be missed. I didn’t need to sleep early because someone insisted on catching the first ferry to the Statue of Liberty and instead could stay up enjoying the wide selection of american Netflix.

But aside from the freedom, 3 days alone with myself really helped me to get to know myself. I have found out that I really don’t enjoy monuments and while I have an interest in the history of a place, usually a one line summary is what I’m looking for (Unless it’s the NYC subway or any cool engineering feat, in which case sign me the fuck up). I found out that I’m a sucker of panoramas and capturing 360 degree views in general. And despite being fascinated by the beauty of Lion King on Broadway, and the best Italian food that I’ve ever had, what really engrained itself in my memory was the fascinating things I saw at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the serenity of the northern part of Central Park.

New York is a city of contradictions to me, it is a city that is living and breathing oxymorons and displaying the multiple dimensions of the humans that inhabit it. Times Square for me was an extremely underwhelming yet overwhelming experience. While the crowds made me anxious, the place itself was just a bunch of shops lined, it really reminded me of some of the shopping districts in Delhi, and I wondered why anyone would travel across the world just to experience Times Square. Central Park, an amazing venture by the Parks and Recreation department of NY, a respite from the busy city, is quite literally a breathing testament to how many opposites really exist in this city. Just a couple of blocks away from the capitalist haven that is Times Square you have the wavering lanes of Central Park. In fact even the history of the city was plagued by contradictions, for example women weren’t allowed to attend the unveiling of the Statue of Liberty. But most of all I felt like a contradiction in this city, I was scared yet fearless. I constantly felt like I was running late, but also at the same time knew that I was exactly where I was supposed to be at that time. And finally in the presence of the magnanimity of the city I felt small, and yet I had never felt quite as big before.

The city helped me embrace these contradictions that I was feeling, I bought a dress for the first time wasn’t a monochrome colour, or a very simple pattern. It was loud and bright, and yet it was classy and the most beautiful thing I think I own.  As the woman at the store said we owe it to ourselves as women to take a chance and stop playing it safe. Aside from the trip, this dress was my gift to myself. A reminder to explore, to step out of my comfort zone and finally embrace the multitudes that make me who I am.

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A picture of me admiring the sheer genius of the costume of scar, and wearing the outfit.

Day: I fucked Up – I’m back bitches

It’s really easy to lose sight of your goals, and progress in the busy disaster that is everyday life. Which is exactly what I did. But today I am forcing myself to start blogging again. Hopefully this time it won’t be a false start. Skule starts again in less than a month and its really time I got my shit together.

I’ll do a goal update tomorrow but more important things first. I recently came across a quote that said something along the lines of “Motivation is important, like brushing, thats why you need to do it daily.” But we don’t do motivation daily, do we? We do motivation once a while, maybe when we stumble upon it intact. But how many people do you know who actively seek motivation every single day of their lives? I think I have one Facebook friend watches inspirational videos every morning, but aside from that, our lives are a motivational void. No wonder people live superwoman (the youtuber), she’s their weekly dose of happiness and inspiration. This is why I’ve decided to continue this blog, I was really upset after what I felt to be a disaster of a post but some kind words from commenters made me feel like it wasn’t. Moreover, the purpose of this blog is from me to stay on track, to let others know that they can do the same, that no amount of failure can stop you from achieving your goals if you just get back on track.

I’ve also been itching to create something lately, to dance, to sing, to paint – I decided to the thing that is the easiest ; writing.  I realized the only thing that it takes to finish something is to just power through, whether it be a math problem, or writing a blog post. Just power through without getting distracted even once. Remind yourself every time you get distracted what you’re doing in that moment is much more important than whatever it is that is calling you. Develop some focus and get to it. Skule is starting soon, and I’m anxious and worried. I have the desire to do everything, but the focus to barely do one thing. With this blog as a daily reminder of my goals, hopefully I can do everything, and do it well.

Till tomorrow.

Day 54:57 A letter to all the extroverts

This was supposed to be posted on Day 54, but unfortunately quite like a typical college student I got shit faced friday night, while working on this post and the hangover the next day was enough to leave me with just enough time to finish my duties for the weekend. So, here it is, the post 3 days overdue.

 

Today marks my second day of successfully exercising, my workout session lasted a bit longer than I expected so this post is coming in the evening, rather than its usual early morning time. Being the noob that I am, I spent a significant amount of time, staring at the machines and trying to figure out ho two safely use them, and like most weight lifting machines these didn’t have a slot for me to put my phone, so I spent another 5 minutes trying to figure out how to “subtly” stuff my iPhone 6+ in my bra. Turns out the best way to do that is to pop it in the middle portion of the bra and hope it stays there.

Work was again very slow, we are in preparation for analysis next week, and since we’ve done most of our work already all we can do is wait until its our turn to use the fancy machines that will tell us exactly what we need to know, with very little effort. While I’m certainly not looking forward to analyzing 40+ graphs next week, I appreciate being busy and hence am looking forward to the coming week. I will also finally get transitioned as Social Director for Chem Club next year and can start working on throwing the largest party for the chemical engineers next year!

My house is spotless, and I’ve started learning Arabic, as a step towards my 4 online courses goal. The “course” is on an app, so it includes basic vocabulary and phrases, and once I finish all the “levels” I will decide what next step to take towards learning the language better. I decided to learn Arabic, since its a language that I grew up with but somehow never really grasped. I also know the basics of the language, and starting from that is easier than starting from nothing. I’m stepping into this course with the expectation of continuing my high school and elementary school education. With some perseverance I think this attempt can be fairly successful.

Moving on, while I love rambling (haha) about my life and attempts at achieving my goals, today I want to talk about something that I found two of my closest friends struggling with a few hours ago; the struggle of being an introvert who likes company. Most of us introverts shy away from parties, in fact the last time I went to a legitimate party I spent most of my time hidden in a room where nobody could find me, with my skirt hitched high being the exact opposite of a lady, and after a couple of hours hidden in a corner calling my mom, and asking her to pick me up ASAP. But after the initial relief I couldn’t help but feel like I missed out on something, especially once I spoke to all the people who had been at the party the next day. So, how do you deal with this constant struggle? Are we introverts more susceptible to the hype, or am I just a teenager? I don’t think I can answer the second question, but here’s how I dealt with it.

Whenever I would ask my mum whether I should do a certain activity, or go to certain event, she would suggest what I should do, and then when I would say something usually along the lines of, “but everyone else is doing that”, or “that other thing sounds like more fun”, her usual response (loosely translated) would be “Sure, if you would like to do that then go ahead, but child understand yourself”. And throughout high school and perhaps even till a couple of months ago, I wasn’t able to fully understand myself and my needs. I have been consistently trying to fit the mould, trying to emulate what the movies tell me about university, about friends and parties. But somewhere in the last few months I stopped trying, I gave up trying to fit in, because I realized I probably never could. And thats when the magic happened, I suddenly fit in. When I decided that I didn’t care for any of these things anymore, and even if I was ostracized, my work would be enough to keep me happy, I became more eccentric, I became more confident, I became more outspoken. I became myself, and in doing this I suddenly fit in. Perhaps this reflects more on the culture of acceptance at Skule than me, but isn’t that what the wisdom of the ages tells us? Be yourself, regardless of what happens. And even if I had been ostracized by the general community I’m sure this would’ve lead to me finding a few friends who I truly connected with.

By fitting in I found myself invited to these events that mostly extroverts take part in; parties, bbqs, picnics, etc. And I found myself mostly declining these invitations, but whenever I did end up going I also found myself thoroughly enjoying these events, and also enjoying being myself when I got the time. My time alone was now much more valuable since there was less of it, so I found myself doing things that really mattered to me, instead of wasting my time watching Netflix. So, heres something for all the extroverts out there.

“Just because I don’t greet you enthusiastically every time we meet, just because I don’t smile too much, or know the right questions to ask, just because I’m awkward, or just because I don’t talk about my life doesn’t mean I don’t like you. I’m sorry I come across as stand-offish (I promise I’m working on it), I’m sorry I come across as bitchy (I swear, I’m trying). I take several days, perhaps weeks to warm up to someone, but I assure you I’m trying, I believe that every person is pretty awesome, so if you just talk to me a few times, I’ll start opening up. And then you can decide if you like me or not. Your first encounter with me will most likely be awkward, and I might come across as rude or obtuse, but just this once don’t let your first impression of anyone guide you. I’ve been known to prove most peoples first opinions wrong. Moreover, I’m just like you. I want to hang out with friends, I want a good time, but I’ll just get tired a bit early. So, give me a chance. I apparently sound like Dory speaking whale when I’m drink, so I assure you it’ll be fun.”

And to my fellow introvert and slightly anxious friends out there, stop giving a fuck. You’re awesome just the way you are, don’t let anyone but your own goals towards improvement guide you to be the person you want to be.

 

Day 53 – The oats go boom

13490842_10209876609455638_4900448599646631856_oThis tuesday night, I made a resolution. A resolution to start exercising after finding that I was having difficulty walking to school without getting winded. I proceeded to make a schedule, and lay out my plan for the day in my planner. The next morning I woke up knowing EXACTLY what I needed to do, and then everything easily fell into place. I woke up 30 mins later than I was supposed to, but I managed to make up for lost time. Then I spent the next 1 hour running on a treadmill, and lifting weights and watching “The office”. My stamina is miserably low, and my main goals are to work towards increasing my endurance, and also gain a bit of strength. The plan is to exercise every other day, to give my muscles some time to rest.

Asides from the small success that is me starting to exercise, I have found the benefits of planning to be momentous. Simply thinking exactly what I was going to do when I woke up, helped me get my day started on time, rather than lounging in bed and lazing around until I gathered the strength to figure out what I needed to do. Work was much lighter than I expected it to be, so I responded to some emails for the Documentary and just hung around for a bit. I could’ve probably spent my time slightly more productively. I’m slightly behind on the planner, but hopefully this weekend I can get most of the work done for it. I’ve set myself a deadline for the middle of next week and I should be able to meet it.

Speaking of failures I managed to destroy perfectly fine oats yesterday! Apparently the correct way to make oats is to stir them every minute, but I had absolutely no idea about this. Progress is a step by step process and just like science progresses so will my cooking skills eventually. Maybe one day in the not so distant future, I will be able to not only cook oats but also bake pies and not be intimidated by the random array of ingredients in my kitchen. Maybe one day, I can take all my skills and passions and put them to good use, and not have my whole life be one large case of explosive oats.

 

Day 49-52 – Just keep swimming

*This post contains spoilers for Finding Dory, please read ahead at your own discretion. *

*spoilers start*

As might be apparent from the title I recently had the pleasure of watching Finding Dory. Once in a while, a movie comes along that is sheer pleasure to watch, a movie that pulls at all your heartstrings, has you sobbing like a child and laughing like a laugh track and in the end conveys a simple and beautiful message, or sometimes several. Finding Dory is one of those movie. While the cuteness of baby Dory as accurately described by buzzfeed is quite honestly the cutest thing I’ve seen in a movie, the movie tackles the challenges children with mental disabilities face, our polluting of the oceans, the atrocity that is SeaWorld, and animal captivity. But what particularly stood out for me, was a testament to “you can always return home to your parents”. This is something that my parents told me when I left for university, and seeing that embodied in what is probably the most complex animated movie I’ve ever watched, was heartwarming and tear inducing to say the least. While I would love to write a post just about this movie, I must move on.

*spoilers over*

So, with watching Finding Dory and visiting my aunts house for fathers day, the last weekend was quite eventful. While I usually return from visits to my aunts house thoroughly underwhelmed this weekend was slightly different. The thing that made this visit excellent was the presence of the most adorable puppy for the fathers day BBQ, this helped me get more comfortable over there and also have a lot of fun with the little floof. However, this weekend was also rather inspiring. I got to meet a couple of people in their late 20s, early 30s who a few years ago had no idea where their life was going, and were kind of just going along the flow and one was kind of unemployed. However, when I met them yesterday they had their plans for the next 5 years figured out, and one that had been kind of unemployed had an interview with google lined up! They all had successful and lucrative careers, were happy, and consistently looking to improve. As a 19 year old, I often feel that I don’t know where I’m going and what the future holds for me, but looking at these “adults” helped me realize that as long as I continue to work hard and follow whatever my dreams are for the moment, I can too succeed. I can reach the goals that I have set for myself, if I continue to work hard. I know all of us slip into that kind of slump once in a while, but the important thing to do is “just keep swimming”.