This week I am going to reflect on something that has been affecting me throughout the entire trip. I have struggled with depression and anxiety since high school. The depression tends to come first, followed by anxiety. They also feed off each other, each making the other more intense. It is a constant presence in my life, although its intensity varies greatly. It tends to become more intense during times of transition, for example during my first year of college and during my junior year following my semester abroad. I think this is because of the many uncertainties present during times of transition. My depression and anxiety thrive on uncertainties and doubt. When I have doubts and fears, my depression weasels its way in and answers the questions with negativity and self-loathing. So, in retrospect, I could have easily guessed I might struggle with another intense period of depression post-graduation. But of course I didn’t want to think about that.
I have been struggling with depression and anxiety during my time in El Salvador. It has shown up in many different ways. One big way is in over-sleeping. Pretty much everyone goes to bed early here, because people are more in tune with nature and the sun. So people go to bed early and get up early with the sun. So, us volunteers tend to also go to bed early. I go to bed pretty early, but I don’t get up after 8 hours of sleep. I just keep on going back to sleep until late morning. Because I’m feeling depressed. And then I wake up feeling crappy because my body is hungry and thirsty. So this is not a very good start to the day. But I keep on doing it, because it’s hard for me to get up and face the day. Another way my depression and anxiety are showing up is through great anxiety and putting myself down when it comes to my Spanish skills. With my depression, negativity thrives. I focus in on only the negative things about myself, like all I don’t know in Spanish or the things I think I lack. So I have to work very hard to try to also meditate on the positive things and on the progress in my Spanish or teaching skills. The other volunteers have been helping a lot, always being very kind and encouraging. Also all the people who work here at the center and also my students are very kind.
I decided to reflect on my depression and anxiety this week, because I am hoping that through reflecting on it and talking through it, it will help some.