I have a little announcement to make: I'm taking a big break from school. Altogether I'll be taking at least a year off, because I've been enjoying summer off for the last 4 months, and now I have dropped my classes for the up-coming semester. Obviously since I enrolled, I was planning on going to university for fall, but I need to be honest with myself as much as possible, and in this case that meant I had to drop my courses. I don't feel that school is a smart place for me to be right now, for my mental health or my happiness (the two, of course, are inextricably connected). It's hard to explain why I'm doin' this to someone else because this decision is deeply emotionally-driven, and largely sits with me knowing myself really well. I KNOW that if I attend university this semester, it will probably lead me into depression, anxiety and lots of stress. I'm not the kind of kid who's ever been stressed out from school, so although that is normal for lots of folks, it's majorly unusual for me.
I have a history of chronic depression. I've never been officially diagnosed but I know. When an episode used to hit I'd lie in bed for days, not wanting to eat or drink, constantly thinking about how being dead would be the easiest escape and about how stupid and naive it is to be happy. It's a terrible, dark, cold, extremely lonely place. I used to feel like this most of the time but just pretended I was fine, whilst inside my head I defined myself first and foremast as sad and alone. As long as I can remember, that was mainly how I thought of myself, as a sad, lonely girl in a world that didn't understand me. This wasn't mere teen angst either, since it started when I was quite young and went on into my 20's (I'm 22 now) and my depression was never related to life events or relationships; it always had to do with the nature of the universe and the real meaningless of "all this".
In the past two years I have made serious efforts to focus on doing things that make me happy in order to combat my depression. Years ago I suffered from a combination of bulimia, anorexia and more generally, orthorexia when I first became vegan, and even before that I was obsessed with being thinner and "healthier". This is was a reason I went vegan (slightly embarrassing to admit now!!) Over several years I finally came to find a healthy relationship with food, instead of a poisonous one. I learned to love myself. And finally I allowed myself to be happy. I started nourishing my body not just with the right foods, but the right foods in ABUNDANCE. Almost like magic, my depression left. I had never experienced this before, and years earlier I had come to assume I would simply be sad most of the time and that was my lot in life. But no! Ever since I began eating whole foods in abundance, meditating, spending more time outdoors, and focusing on other activities that brought me happiness and physical and mental health - motivated by self-love and NOT an obsession with being thin or societal pressure - my depression went away. I don't know how to describe it except to say I lived with a total lack of sadness, for once in my life! And without that sadness, I was happy! I was excited to BE ALIVE. I had never known this feeling over a long-term period.
But here's the thing: I know my depression could always come back if I don't maintain my current routine. That routine involves doing stuff that makes me happy, examples are: eating as much healthy food as I desire, and occasionally indulging in something not that healthy BUT something that'll make me happy in the moment; exercise (weightlifting, biking and hiking for me); staying hydrated; mediating; listening to music; being productive almost every day, and on days where I don't do work for my blog, my books, etc. I spend that time practicing self care. Somedays I do not want to get out of bed and I think, "It'd be so much easier to lie here all day and listen to sad records." But on those days I make extra effort to do those things that make me happy; I'll go lift weights, listen to a fave album, bike through the trees and make some juice. Then maybe watch a documentary about the cosmos. Meditating is a huge help as well. What I'm trying to say is that recipe for happiness works great most days, but even still, sometimes I sense my dark side seeping upwards into my head and so I know it's always with me and has the potential to become unmanageable if I let it. That's why I need to always remember how important it is to keep my happiness routine going. My depression used to be malignant, now it's mostly benign, but every so often, or if I don't focus on things that are good for me, it comes back. Only for a short time, maybe a day, maybe a few hours. But it's there.
The whole point of me divulging all this is: I feel that if I go to school this semester, the balance will be tipped too far towards depression and away from happiness. I have loved school up until now, and am sure I will miss it again soon, but for whatever reason my mental state is not ready for it right now. I am an extremely emotionally-sensitive person and going to school might break me at this point in my life. I need to keep focusing on my happy activities. Instead of studying history for the next few months, I'd rather travel a bit, work on my blog, do some long distance bike rides, go to the gym everyday, and make sure I eat a ton of good-for-me foods to nourish my brain and body. So that's what I am gonna do.
Important to note: I am very privileged thanks to factors such as my skin colour, location, family, access to education, the internet, the fact that I'm financially comfortable, my able-bodiedness, and more. Most people don't have the opportunity to go to post-secondary school and even fewer people have the privilege to decide not to go although they could if they wanted. This is because the system that controls our world at this time is a kind of capitalism, and this species of capitalism demands and relies on social inequalities and human rights violations. I don't have a solution to this problem, but I at least know it IS a problem and the first step to overcoming it is acknowledging it.
SUMMER ROLLS w/ GARDEN VEGGIES, BASIL + TAHINI CHILI SAUCE
Tahini chili sauce:
2 tablespoons tahini
1 garlic clove
1 teaspoon chunk fresh ginger
1 tablespoon miso paste
1 tablespoon sauerkraut
1 tablespoon coconut sugar
2 tablespoons lime juice
1-2 tablespoons dried deseeded red chili skin, or more, as desired
Water, as needed
1 red beet, shredded
3 carrots, shredded
3-4 tomatoes, sliced
1/2 cup basil leaves
1/4 cup mint leaves
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
Whatever else your heart desires
To make the sauce: blend everything together until smooth. Adjust according to your taste preferences, and add as much water as needed to get a creamy consistency.
To make the wraps: dip a rice paper sheet in cold water for 5 seconds, then lay it flat on a damp cloth and let sit for 15 seconds while you fill it up with your goodies. Fold the skin on one side over and wrap under the fillings, then wrap up like a burrito. Hope that made enough sense.
Dip in yo sauce and enjoy.
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