The Scarlet & Black

The Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Mental Musings: A note for the terrible Twos-days, Wednesdays, Thursdays and so forth

Graphic by Tess Kerkhof.

I had a terrible Saturday last weekend.

And no, I’m not trying to be pessimistic. Quite the opposite actually.

I did everything right.  I took my sertraline, spent the morning reading, ate a good breakfast. Later, I started my homework. Nothing out of the ordinary happened. And yet, the entire afternoon and evening, I could not stop crying. I felt a sense of panic as I processed all the work I still had to do, and even more panic at how many emails I’d accidentally missed on Friday after I’d had to run errands with my family for the majority of the day. And despite any comfort provided to me and the application of every breathing exercise I’d ever learned, I could not calm myself down. I just kept crying.

I hoped for a better Sunday. And I got one!

I made plans to get boba with a friend and we spent the afternoon exploring a local bookstore’s every corner. He bought every book in sight, and I, being the slightly “older” one, only bought a gorgeous copy of Toni Morrison’s Beloved, a novel that’s been on my list for quite some time. I went home, finished up some more homework, read even more and slept with a sense of gratitude that the wave of dread that fell over me on Saturday had faded.

But Monday morning, the crying started again. And if I’m being honest, it hasn’t stopped since.

There’s a number of reasons, small and temporary, that I could list for my distress. But that’s not the point I’m trying to make. I want to address one of my biggest pet peeves concerning mental health: I can’t always simplify my distress to one reason. Sometimes, there’s absolutely no reason, or the reason that I believe causes me distress actually feeds into other, much larger, more existential reasons. What if I’m not good enough? What if this deep sadness is all I am and all I’ll ever be?

Of course, those aren’t the kinds of questions you ask publicly. (Except oops, I just did.) So instead, when people ask why I’m so upset, why can’t I get out of bed, I lie. I tell them it’s because I’m anxious to do my lab report or I’m stressed about moving out of one apartment to another. Sometimes, I lie better: “I’m fine.” “I’m great!” “I’m doing good, staying busy.” – all of those casual phrases we throw around to avoid saying the truth. No, I never tell them the truth; sometimes I legitimately don’t know. Sometimes, I just feel like crying and I don’t feel like doing anything but watching “The Great British Bake Off,” wrapped in blankets while pretending that nothing else matters.

I think that should be normal. Everyone should take a moment if they need it. Whether you identify as someone with mental health issues or not, self-care does not always need to be productive. We don’t need to distract ourselves from pain through production, work through other work.

The responsibilities of my life contradict this mentality completely. Not only am I a college student with more than enough homework to keep me busy, but I’ve got a job and a large-scale research project on top of that. I’m also currently home, meaning I’ve got the responsibilities of being a good daughter on top of that. Every moment of my life requires some form of productivity, whether I can handle it or not, and I know I’m not alone in that. Even despite the historical trauma we all face, we continue to face our everyday responsibilities. 

I’ll be honest again: I didn’t get the chance to do research before I wrote this. There’s no science or any logical explanation that I could provide for what my week has been like. I don’t have any inspirational quotes from a guest speaker, and I’m not sure how inspiring my twenty-year-old angst would be for anyone besides a CW script writer. But I will end on this: give yourself a moment this week. I don’t care if you’re doing something or if you’re just laying on your bed listening to Phoebe Bridgers or SZA. Take a moment and check in with yourself, let yourself feel anything you need to feel whether it’s sadness, anger or remorse.

Sending all my love and best wishes that anyone feeling how I am (or worse) feels better tomorrow. And if not, I invite you to shoot me an email in my inbox. I can’t promise a solution, but I can promise an ear.



Any opinions expressed through columns and other S&B opinions publications belong to the writer and do not reflect the views of any or all members of The S&B staff, nor by any Grinnell associated organization.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
Donate to The Scarlet & Black
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Scarlet & Black Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *