It’s funny how getting something off your back and into tangible words on paper can turn things around. Not only did writing a column about being depressed bring me a startling sense of clarity, but it awoke others to my situation. It’s made me realize that underneath the grade-obsessed, competitive, determined exterior, Waterloo cares.
I appreciate every single one of the complete strangers who recognized me from my columns, approached me, and asked me how I am and what they could do to help.
When I wrote that I was struggling in my coursework, people who had done the course in previous years came to me and asked if they could help me study for the next midterm.
I accumulated six packets of Tim Tams (an Australian cookie that, for some reason, is sold at Sobeys and Zehrs) over my birthday — it’s nice to have a reminder of home sitting on my shelf.
My friend Rebecka (All hail Rebecka) has been fantastic, listening to me ramble and dealing with my crap. Everyone has been wonderful to me, and the kindness of strangers amazes me.
This last week has made me realize that sometimes when you are keeping problems to yourself, those problems are actually keeping you. It’s made me realize that what you want might be the things that you need to get you through it.
For me, it was the meaningless banter of a hairdresser while she washed my hair, it was hot, fresh cinnamon buns, it was watching Star Wars for the millionth time with my best friend, and it was the strange feeling of hope associated with my birthday.
After the column was printed, I had a newfound clarity that made me aware of how keeping myself locked in my room day after day was not helping me solve the problem.
I think I reached the breaking point the night before my birthday. I was doing what I thought I wanted: lying in bed, eating chips, drinking bubble tea, and watching Orange is the New Black … again. It was 11 at night, almost three hours after a party I’d been invited to had started.
I don’t know what it was that made me leap out of bed, put on a dress and ridiculously thin stockings, call a taxi, and get to the party. All I know is that it helped me so much.
When I walked into the party, people exclaimed how excited they were to have me there, they complimented me on my (very poorly chosen) outfit, and, best of all, they sang me “Happy Birthday.”
It wasn’t just a measly song that you’re obliged to sing at family gatherings when your fifth cousin, twice removed is celebrating; no. Their voices boomed as they sang it, every single one of them smiling. I felt like I was going to cry, I was so happy. I felt so needed, so vital, and full of life in that moment.
So thank you, Waterloo. Thank you for caring. I feel very, very loved.
(PS: Yes, I’ve had my first legal drink in Canada — it was a Molson.)