Managing School and Mental Health
When you were a child, did you ever read the book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst? If you didn’t, that’s alright. I’m pretty sure you can conclude the plot from the title. When I was young, I really liked this book. I thought the character of Alexander was pretty funny. As I’ve gotten older, though, this book has become more important to me. Before I go any further, I should probably let you in on a secret. I’m a bit depressed. I’ve learned to manage it, but it’s one of the reasons that I started taking classes online.
“I can get up from my work, turn my attention to something else, and have a moment to unwind.”
Let’s get back to Alexander. In the story, he has a very hard time focusing on school. His bad day has him exceptionally distracted. I know all about this experience. Sometimes, I’m so sad that I can’t get out of bed. It isn’t really scary. Just a lot of laying around. Essentially, my brain is taking a vacation. It’s not the easiest to ask a person that’s on vacation to get some work done, and it’s the same with your mind. I know that I have assignments due, but I can’t seem to make myself get anything accomplished.
In Viorst’s story, Alexander doesn’t have the best coping mechanisms when it comes to dealing with his feelings. Luckily for him, he’s a bit younger. This makes it a little easier for him to escape responsibilities. I don’t have the same luxury. When I’m presented with a particular dreary day, I have to work through it. What do I do to get that done? Well, it starts with a lot of avoidance. I tell myself, “you can get that finished tomorrow” or “it won’t matter if you miss one day”. I think you and I both know, though, that it will matter.
After I’ve wasted a few hours, the rational side of me takes over. I know that I need to get something done. That’s when I finally open up my computer. Once I’ve got an assignment loaded up, I’ll typically find an opportunity to busy myself. I’ll do anything to avoid doing work, and that’s just the truth. But, looking at the same spot on the floor can only occupy me for so long. Once I’ve tired of that, I’ll probably begin working on whatever task that I’ve been trying to get around. There will be more breaks in between, more getting up for something that I don’t really need to do. That’s just how I have to operate.
Since I’m an online student, I have room in my schedule to take these breaks. That’s one of the massive advantages of learning from home. I can get up from my work, turn my attention to something else, and have a moment to unwind. That was something that I desperately craved when I was attending public school. When I have especially hard days, I’m able to take the time to rest. I don’t have to worry about being marked absent, or falling terribly behind in my classes.
Something that I’ve really learned through this process, is that I have to be gentle with myself. There will be days where I can’t get anything done. There will be days when I fly through a bunch of assignments. I’m doing the best that I can.
If I could give advice to anybody reading this, that would be it. Do the best that you can. Be kind to yourself when you aren’t able to accomplish everything. Everybody has highs and lows. Go at your own pace. Don’t push yourself too hard. Not every single day will be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.