By Lauren Walsh
I turned into a robot my senior year of high school. I remember when I came home at 7 p.m., hung out with friends until midnight, did homework until 4 a.m., and then woke at 7 a.m. Consistently I got three hours of sleep.
I’d been diagnosed with OCD at age nine and by high school I was getting panic attacks. I stopped eating and sleeping. I thought about killing myself.
That was my life in high school and in some ways, that’s my life today. I don’t know a lot of people that get a good night’s sleep and they act like it’s fine. It’s difficult to stop when it’s so normalized on campus. I’m not trying to blame my problems on sleep, but I’d feel better if I got the recommended 8 hours.
Some days I’ll spend more time in my bed than I have time to and still feel tired when I leave it. It feels like I am carrying weights on my chest. I have no desire to do anything and I’ll lay in my bed feeling unable to breathe for hours at a time. Not getting enough sleep enhances a negative cycle.
Anxiety, OCD, and depression each have their own set of symptoms that I struggle with daily and these become exacerbated easily. The less sleep I get, the more likely I am to self-harm or start getting suicidal thoughts because I am less capable of controlling my emotions. The less sleep I get, the more eyelashes I pull out.
The world feels bleak. The days begin to melt together. They leave me feeling out of control. The less sleep I get, the worse life feels.
I typically don’t get a full night’s sleep. I’m a senior leading three organizations on campus, working and owning a dog. My friends have watched as I burst into tears for seemingly no reason in the morning. They can’t tell that my heart is racing, that my body feels terrible. And I am so anxious. I just don’t want to face another day.
It’s very nice to say you can just go to bed early and it will fix everything, but what if you can’t? Sometimes my body is incapable of allowing me to sleep no matter how exhausted. My brain simply will not turn off. Much of the time, I am just too busy to sleep.
Maybe without the anxiety, depression, and OCD, the lack of sleep would be something a cup of coffee would fix. Everyone seems to think we come to college and part of the package is that we don’t sleep. We stay up all night to do homework or to party with our friends. But it’s a maladaptive coping mechanism to the world we’ve been placed in. Not sleeping is already causing more issues for me and it will eventually cause issues for everybody.
I don’t know if people just keep how this makes them feel to themselves, I don’t even know if others know how I feel, but it’s time to change that and talk about it.
Lauren Walsh is a senior biology major who writes more lab reports than newspaper articles.