I want to start this off by giving all you future mentally ill TAPIF-ers a piece of advice: your mental illness will not go away despite your dreams coming true.
Ever since I saw The Phantom of the Opera in 8th grade, I’ve always wanted to visit France and see a show at the Opera Garnier. And you know what? I’m living in a small town 40 minutes east of Paris, and I’ve seen the Opera more times than I can count on both hands. Not only have I taken a self-guided tour, but I’ve actually seen a ballet there.
My life is incredible. I’m so privileged. My paycheck is able to sustain me, and I only work 12 hours a week (not including lesson planning). I’ve been able to go to Poitiers, visit 3 different Christmas markets, go to Chateau de Versailles, see a good friend from back home, and so so much more. Even on the days where I set three alarms starting at 6:30AM, I feel grateful to be in France. I mean, who else can say that they’ve lived in the French countryside? You know, besides actual French people.
I’ve made wonderful and countless friends with people both in and out of my district. I’ve joined them on their adventures to Paris, and I’ve had people join me on mine. I’ve been following their posts and their blogs and all their voyages because we’re all so glad to be having this experience. And you know what else? Others have been talking about getting the blues, and I thought that I was impervious.
I was wrong.
I don’t mind being alone. Sometimes it’s scary, but I have two great roommates to come back home to. I have friends that I visit in Paris, and I think my professors like me. I also like to think that the person who sells me baguettes likes me. My dreams have come true. In fact, I was practically begging to leave the United States by the end of summer. (Disclaimer: I got a really bad stomach ache from nervousness a few days before my flight and ended up sleeping next to my mom in her bed to calm me down). This is everything I’ve ever wanted for my life.
And then I realized the hard truth: I was so busy that I didn’t realize how sad I was. In addition to working and travelling, I was participating in Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month). My free time was occupied with writing and updating my instagram so that I could continue pretending that my life was absolutely perfect.
Here’s the thing, folks. Depression and anxiety doesn’t care if your dreams came true. You’re still going to wake up in the morning–you may be grateful–but sometimes you go back to sleep. Sometimes you’ll sleep for hours and hours and still take a long nap. Sometimes you’ll drink a little too much wine. Sometimes you’ll wonder why you haven’t cried in such a long time and then realize that it’s just been building up inside of you.
Here’s the other thing. It may not feel okay, but I promise you all that it is. It’s a hard transition. It doesn’t matter how much you might want to leave your country and everyone you know to go explore France for seven months. Soon, it’ll all catch up to you. The isolation. Not being completely fluent in French. Wondering if your professors like you or not. Wondering if the other assistants like you or not. Wondering if your students like you or not. And of course, you’ll be Skype with your parents and your friends from back home, but it’ll just feel…different. You’ll hang up and the air will feel empty around you. It’s not fair. It’s not fair at all. But you’ll get through it. We always do.
Now, to friends and family who’ve been wondering why I haven’t been posting anything on my blog: Don’t despair! Everything is fine, and as normal as it gets for me. I’ll be doing a lot of catching up this week (I hope–future Amy might get a little lazy).