If you’ve been following my blog this semester, you know that towards the end of October, I experienced a personal tragedy: my grandmother passed away. It was the first personal loss I’d really ever experienced, and it hit me hard. For the next month, everything was just harder. It was harder for me to wake up in the morning, to get out of bed, to pay attention in class, or even just to think clearly. I was existing in a haze, going through the motions for the sake of appearances even as I let everything in my life slip. I didn’t do homework, I didn’t go for extra credit on assignments, I didn’t even leave Quito. I would just come home in the evening and sit on my bed, not thinking, until it was time for me to go to sleep. I even let this blog go; I don’t have a single post from the month of November.
I’m writing this to acknowledge that, well, being abroad can be hard. I was relatively isolated; my local support network was a couple people who I’d at best known for three months. In order to arrange therapy sessions with the university I was studying at, I had to send an email—an already insurmountable task only made harder by the fact that it had to be in Spanish. In short, I just didn’t have access to the kind of personal or professional resources that would have been available to me in the States.
I’m not going to sugarcoat this: it was bad. It was really bad. And I’m not going to pretend I overcame this depressive episode through moral fortitude or anything else. Instead, I was pulled out of it. My friends realized that something was off with me and forced me to open up, reminding me for the hundredth time that most of my problems can be, if not fixed, made better by spending time with my friends.
This isn’t meant to be instructive; I’m not suggesting that other people should just go hang out with their friends if they want to improve their mental health. Rather, I’m just expressing myself, and telling a short story of a time I was helped when therapy wasn’t really an option.
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<p>Hi! I'm a current junior at the University of Rochester studying the history of early modern globalization, with a specific focus on links between Asia and Latin America. When I'm not busy writing papers, you can probably find me lying down on the beach, soaking in the sunlight, and reading sci-fi.</p>