The Best You Can Do

Monday, September 22, 2014

Sometimes, you cook meals that have 38 ingredients and require every pan in the house. Sometimes, though, you eat lunch at a weird time in the middle of the afternoon and by the time you realize you never ate dinner, it's 11 pm and you end up sitting on the sofa eating plain, dry Cheerios, wondering where exactly you went wrong with your life.

That was me last night.

I think I am going to spend the rest of the next 4 years of my life feeling like I am failing at something. If I'm a  good wife, I'm a crappy med student, and if I'm a good med student, I'm a crappy friend (and probably a crappy wife), and if I'm a good friend, then I'm a crappy wife (and probably a crappy med student). If the house is clean, then something else didn't get done. If we have groceries, I didn't study, but if I studied, then I have no clean underwear and Ken doesn't even know if I live at home anymore. I just can't seem to get it right.

I know this isn't a new plight for med students, or even non-med-students who work full-time or are full-time stay-at-home parents. I guess I just had it "easy" before when I worked full time because I didn't have a job that came home with me and when I wasn't taking classes, all I had to do when I came home was make sure the house was clean and cook and do laundry and whatever. I actually enjoy cleaning, and Ken also cleans and cooks, so it was never a real chore for either of us. And no, we're not living in total squalor here, but I get home and the last thing I want to do is... well, anything. I've been saying that I needed to scrub the tub and shower in our master bath for at least a week now and is it clean? No. That's happening today, for real though, because it's gross. Seriously gross.

On top of that, what even is a "good wife" or a "good friend"? I'm pretty sure a "good med student" is someone who studies all the time and gets A's or B's in their classes, who also manages to be in a few extracurricular activity and runs a productive study group, who is also fun to be around. This person also wears clean and stylish clothes, wears make-up/does their hair, and packs their lunch.

See also: This person cannot possibly exist in real life.

Med school is a jealous and demanding bitch, basically. It wants all of your time during the day and if you let it, it will steal your sleep. I refuse to give up sleep on a routine basis, which makes me feel like a "bad med student" but I will crash and burn faster than you can say "glycolysis" if I sleep for less than 6 hours a night. Sorry, med school. You lose there.

I guess this lends itself to the larger issue I have of "being a good human" or "being a good adult". There are endless lists about the things you need to do by the time you're 30 or whatever, and most of them are complete and utter bullshit, but I still feel pressure from life to be a better "adult". And by "pressure from life" I mean "pressure from myself" because I have yet to have anyone, not even my therapist, say, "Wow, Alison, you suck at being a grown-up." In my head, a good adult doesn't throw out receipts and drinks 64 ounces of water per day and eats 3-5 servings of fruits and vegetables on a daily basis. A good adult irons and doesn't leave Target returns in her trunk for 93 years, and doesn't leave the 5 bags of clothes for Goodwill languishing in her garage for 3 months. A good adult does let junk mail take over her kitchen table and doesn't just close the door to the third bedroom that has yet to be unpacked and gives her agita when she looks at it. A good adult exercises and remembers to refill her prescriptions and doesn't eat random things for lunch that she found in her purse.

I have no idea how to be a good adult. Yes, I'm married and yes, my husband and I own a house, and yeah, we're even trying to have a baby (which, in light of all the crap I can't handle, I am not entirely sure is a smart idea...) but I am not sure I'm a grown up. I just read a  post on A Practical Wedding called Adulthood is a Myth and it was pretty perfect. Everyone I talk to in my age bracket seems to feel similarly, so I don't know why I'm over here in a corner freaking out like I am the only person to ever experience these emotions, but... here I am. If you want to hang out, you know where to find me.

Sometimes, cereal at 11 pm on the sofa is the best I can do. Sometimes, I have to just accept that I can't buy clothes that I have to iron because it won't get done and paying a dry cleaner to press a few shirts seems absurd. I'm not quite sure how to accept the fact that I will never be a great adult, a great wife, and a great friend simultaneously. I don't know if I should accept that. Perhaps I just need to adjust my expectations and be okay with being pretty good at all three things. Or maybe I have to understand that I can't do all three at once, and that my friends and husband will understand if I disappear into a studying cave and when I come out, I might be babbling incoherently. Just guide me to the shower and a glass of wine or a giant mug of coffee and I promise, I'll be back to normal soon.

I'm sure that a lot of this is the depression talking. The good (?) news is that I do know that depression lies and that eventually, the pendulum will swing and I'll start to climb out of this hole. Fortunately, this hole isn't the deepest it could be; not even close. These two things, however, don't make the slogging through the depression any easier or any more fun. This is also harder because today is the first day of fall and there is something about the change in the seasons that hits my brain especially hard. (Dooce puts it really well here and here.)

Now we know, and I thought that the knowing would make it easier. And it has in that September will turn into October and October will merge with November, and I won’t be sitting at my desk feeling sad for no goddamn reason. But it’s knowing that there is no reason that makes it even more unbearable. Because as much as a person with depression is sad, we are the same measure of angry that we can’t just stop feeling this way.

I want so badly to be better, but sometimes, this is the best I can do and I have to be more gentle with myself. This is the best I can do right now.

- A



2 comments:

  1. I gotta tell ya hon, the best you can do is pretty freaking fantastic. As either a testament to how much better you are doing than you feel you are, or how much of a hot mess I truly am, you're the adult I aspire to be, my theatre daughter. We're all equally as lost. As the wisest fish in the ocean once said, "Just keep swimming."

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  2. I second Amy! It's hard, but I think you're doing just fine. I do all the things you're describing, and I'm almost 10 years older than you and don't even go to med school. ("She doesn't even go here!")

    You're doing fine. Breathe. Just breathe.

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