why i missed class last week

“There’s no excuse to miss class”, “you are a student first”, “Hamilton pays for you to be here”. Many students have typical reasons for missing class. They’re sick or they have a paper due or its too cold to leave their room.

Last year, I realized that there is more to students than their physical health. As a woman of color, mental health has never been a topic of discussion or something I believe in. I sit here staring at the screen. I type. Then I stop. Then I type. Sometimes I will be in class and my mind will take me worlds away. I have never paid attention to my mind and my feelings until I felt separated from my body in the Fall of last year. I struggled with the “D” word. I couldn’t even come to terms with the fact that I wasn’t eating or leaving my room. Worse, I found myself wide awake during the day with my lights off, shutters down and missing class. Usually I would feel awful for missing a class or feel some sort of guilt but that semester I felt absolutely nothing. Food wasn’t appetizing. People were painful to talk to and I just didn’t have energy.

I wanted freedom. I wanted to breathe and the only place I could do that was in my room. By myself, with the lights off. During that semester I did not come to terms with what I was feeling. I kept telling myself I just needed to go home and rejuvenate or I needed to take a walk and reflect but nothing worked. I cried. I had trouble sleeping and I didn’t want to talk to anyone about what I was feeling. Not because I didn’t want to but because I couldn’t. I didn’t know how to express what was going on in my mind. I never knew how much control my mind had over my body until I felt it. I felt my mind telling my body to stay in bed. I felt my mind telling my body that the people around me were fake and uninterested in how I was really feeling. I felt my mind telling my body that food was not worth it. Food was not worth the 3 minute walk to Commons. Class was not worth the 7 minute walk to KJ.

I couldn’t talk about depression because the community of color does not believe in depression. I cannot talk about something I know nothing about. As a woman of color, it is easy to trivialize my feelings and actions. It is easy to say ” I was just having a bad day” and thats exactly what happened last Wednesday.

On Tuesday night I could not get any work done. I reverted back to the self that could not leave her bed last Fall. I reverted back to the self that had no feeling. I was empty. I missed class because I had too much going on and I just broke. It happens less often but there are times where I feel empty and have nothing to give or offer. I needed to take time to myself and breathe. Mental health is something I take seriously now. Last Fall, I finally acknowledged that once I treat my mind with love and respect, my body will respond and I will be whole. I want to be whole this semester. I want to be whole from now on and I plan to keep to that goal.

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3 thoughts on “why i missed class last week

  1. Naomi, thank you for sharing this. I always look forward to running into to you when I’m around campus and I am so sorry to hear that you struggled last year and continue to struggle more sporadically with depression and feelings of depression. Though your experience with mental health is unique, you are not alone. College is sold to us as “the best years of ours lives” but with the stress of work, the (often miserable) weather and a bunch of other factors people can start feeling really shitty and, as you know, even face paralyzing negative mental health challenges. I am humbled by your willingness to share your story with the class even after facing the “trivializing” of mental health in communities of color. I responded because I want you to know that you’re not alone in struggling and that there are people at Hamilton who care about you, myself included.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for allowing us into your life Naomi. Mental illness in communities of color can be a very difficult thing because our parents, siblings, neighbors, relatives, etc think that there is no such thing, that it’s “a white people problem.” Sometimes what the mind needs is to just be alone instead of being forced to have meaningless and faked interaction with others. I am writing this from my personal experience as a woman of color battling with depression and I know that not all depression are alike. Just take it one day at a time and remember to have “me times” when your mind asks for a break.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I know this was written a while ago, but I still wanted to thank you for sharing this Naomi. It takes so much strength to share something as personal as your experience with depression. I have also struggled with depression for a veryyyyy long time and what you have described is spot on–I actually withdrew from Hamilton last Fall because of it. I hope that you know that it takes so much courage to be able to push through and I have a lot of admiration for you. This semester I have come across so many people who have been feeling the same way, which obviously highlights the urgency in talking about mental health issues. I think as students there is a lot of pressure on us in terms of doing well in school, making a career for ourselves (that we will hopefully love, but that’s not guaranteed), helping struggling communities, etc. On top of that, for student of color/student who have lived in poverty/first generation students there is an extra layer to try to “uplift” and “save” our own families. It’s a lot–not to mention the biological components that makes some people more prone to depression because of their DNA. This can all lead to depression and no one deserve to feel crappy for an extended period of time.

    I am glad, however, you’re taking care of yourself and putting yourself first, because honestly that’s all that really matters ❤

    Like

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