There’s a container of Subway cookies from September 2 threatening to fall off my dresser at any second. On the floor there’s my yogurt bowl from three days ago, and my wine glass from a week prior. I still haven’t put away my textbooks and my bedsheets are covered in crumbs from the several bags of microwave popcorn that have replaced my dinners all month.
I can’t focus in my room, but my room is all I have. In this time of COVID, coffee shops and library study spaces and friends’ living rooms are not responsible or inhabitable options. My room has become my campus, sanctuary, creative space, and more. It’s a lot to ask of one room. It’s even more to ask of a person, to take an entire world and life and condense it down to one single space. As a result I have been spiraling, and it hasn’t been pretty.
Just as my textbooks lay sprawled across the floor my school responsibilities span several Google folders and nothing really quite gets done to the degree it should be. My assignments are started an hour before they’re due and turned in minutes before the deadline. As Campus Coordinator of my campus’ Her Campus chapter I know I have let one or two weekly recap forms go unsubmitted much like the dishes that should have been moved to the kitchen a while ago. I had to give up a campus position that meant a lot to me but to continue in that role would have been detrimental to my mental health and, as a result, I would not have performed adequately in that role. This manifests itself in the piles of clean laundry not folded and dirty laundry scattered on the floor.
My personal relationships are failing as well. I am at the point where I send my friends my calendar so as to have them schedule a time for us to connect. I have not spoken with my therapist in over a month and my relationship with my roommates is strained. This looks like half finished art projects stacked in a corner and a rolled up yoga mat collecting dust in the corner. I need time for these personal relationships but they are not getting it, just as the things that help my mental health, like creating and physical exercise, are not getting done.
The centerpiece of my room is my bed, the space that has become the classroom and kitchen table and art studio and spa and therapist couch alike. The covers are always a little frumpled, even when I make it, and in my sleep I often bump up against my ear buds or a forgotten pen lost in the sheets. Despite all the roles it must fill it still functions first and foremost as a bed, the place where I can escape the pressures of this world by sleeping, and I sleep too much. 10 hours a night plus up to four hours of naps a day, that is my current sleeping routine. I know I have to break it, but the unconscious state is far more appealing to me than any task I need to accomplish, even that of calling friends, family, and my partner.
I’d like to end this article on a positive note, but I’m not sure there is one to end it on. At the time of writing I still have not contacted my therapist (although I will likely send him this article to read before our next session), I am in conflict with my roommates, I work 30 hours a week while managing a full course load, I have an assignment due in 25 hours that I have not started yet, and my laundry is still sprawled across my floor.
So what’s the positive? That I shared this story. I spoke my pain and struggle into existence and hopefully the resulting reaction will make things a little better, even if that looks like this article helping someone else or finding the right people that hold me accountable.
My room is my head; messy and discombobulated and cold and smelling just a little stinky, but it’s still mine and my being, and it will get better.