Screaming On the Inside

Give me a break

Madeline Fuerstenberg

More stories from Madeline Fuerstenberg

November 2, 2020

You know how I can tell I’m really reaching some sort of breaking point with my mental health? The other night my boyfriend said to me: “Have sweet dreams — dream that I’m taking you away on a nice vacation.”

And what did I do in response? Start crying. 

It had been a really long day; an endless day of classes, homework and Spectator business. I had just returned from campus around 12:30 a.m. after finishing laying out our most recent print issue, and I was beyond exhausted and stressed. 

I don’t know if the tear-shed stemmed from the fact that it was simply a really sweet thing to hear, or if I was just so overwhelmed by the idea of taking a vacation that my heart broke, just a little.

But I felt pretty certain this wasn’t a healthy sign.

So I decided that It was time for a little break. My boyfriend visited his family this weekend and my roommate went home for a wedding. I had the apartment all to myself.

There was still a lot of stuff I had to do — the homework is endless, after all. So I designated Saturday as a relaxation day and Sunday as a workday.

On Saturday, I spent the majority of my day binge-watching “American Horror Story” and cleaning. I don’t love cleaning, but my roommate and I have been living in filth for the last few weeks and I chose to view it as something I could actually control in my life. It was therapeutic, in a way.

I also spent that day eating an obscene amount of chocolate and thinking about absolutely nothing. Worrying and stressing were to be reserved for Sunday. 

I ended that lovely day by going to bed early and actually getting a solid night’s sleep. It was a miracle.

I felt refreshed the next day as I conducted two interviews for a big Advanced Reporting and Editing project, studied for a geography exam, took a quiz and completed the rest of my assignments. I still experienced a good amount of stress and anxiety, but the rest I received the day prior was much-needed and ultimately beneficial to my day of work. 

Breaks are important. So is rest. Sometimes all we need is to shut off our brains and tune out our responsibilities, just for a little while. It’s a slippery slope, but it’s completely necessary. 

According to WebMD, too much stress can result in headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, skin conditions, asthma, arthritis, depression and anxiety. 

Too much stress can also have negative impacts on the immune system, which might explain why I spent the first two weeks of the semester with an infection-induced partial lung collapse, the next week with a cold and then this week with some sort of stomach virus. Anyone want to place any bets on what I’ll have next? My money is on kidney failure or the plague.

So yeah — a break was needed. 

For people like myself (high-strung), this can be really hard to do. I had to remind myself on Saturday that the world would not end if I put things off for one day — if I didn’t do everything perfectly or receive good grades on every single assignment and test.

Because that’s where my biggest weakness lies. I hate the idea of letting others down, and a major part of that is this perception that my professors or bosses will be disappointed in me if I don’t do perfectly at every single task.

And that’s not very healthy. So during those times when I’m freaking out and screaming on the inside, I just need to remind myself that it’s okay to take the occasional break. 

Nobody will hold it against me. My hardest critic is myself.

Fuerstenberg can be reached at [email protected]