Why I Didn’t Do Physics Homework

By Allison.

This post was mostly sparked by Erica, who asked me the other day why I let myself get a full chapter behind in physics class. At first, I was shocked myself, at my seeming lack of passion, at my decision to ignore a week’s worth of physics homework, at my apparent poor choices. But after some introspection, I knew there was more to the story, I knew there was a different perspective to be gained. So, here’s some more of me.

I’m crying again. I shouldn’t be. Nothing so simple, so barely disappointing, so easily fixed, should make me cry so much. But now I can’t stop. Again. Now I can’t help myself. What is it, the fourth time this week? The fifth? I break down over little things. A bad quiz grade or a mean comment from my mom. I panic when a stranger tries to speak to me and I burst into tears when I answer a question wrong in class. I cry over everything and here I am, crying, again. I need to stop. I need to do homework. I need to read two books and submit three calculus assignments and write a well crafted essay before 11:55 EST. I need to text my friend back. I need to stop avoiding making plans. But I can’t. I can’t do anything. So I put on headphones. Music drowning out my thoughts helps, sometimes. I can’t think as well with the music blasting. All the horrible things in my brain tend to fall apart, unformed, less threatening when they’re not fully equipped with my hyperactive imagination. I lay on my bed. I want to sleep. If I sleep, I’ll feel better, I tell myself.

But the next day is always worse. I wake up empty. My eyes are red, puffy. I put on makeup to feel pretty but I feel hollow. I get dressed to be presentable but I’m a wreck. My heart is deflated, it does not feel like it can possibly pump enough blood to circulate through my arms and legs. My lungs cannot supply enough oxygen to my brain, I am sure of it. I am half alive. I wonder if my organs were scraped from my body last night, taken from me. This is not how a human should feel.

My motivation feels weaker than my body. It is not laziness. It is not procrastination. It is total, consuming inability. I can barely move from my bed. I cannot sit at my desk. I can’t fathom doing homework. I cannot make myself care. My hands feel restless but my brain is numb. Sentences fall, unfinished, from my mind. Even without the music blasting like the night before, I cannot process what I want to think. Everything feels cloudy, foggy, like I am just learning a language and cannot translate every word of a sentence. I try to answer texts but stare at my phone screen for long minutes before turning it off again. I do not know what to say any more than I know what to think.

My mom tells me I am wasting time by sleeping. I’ve been in bed too long, she says. I should wake up earlier, she chides. But she does not know I am here because I cannot move. Friends tell me I am behind in school work. I know I am. But I cannot do it now. I do not have a brain to do it with; I am only half alive, after all. The homework is due tonight, they say. But this is not about avoiding my responsibilities. This is about being utterly incapable of facing them. I am dedicated and passionate when I am well. But, right now, I cannot find those qualities within me. I am sick.

I have a brain that quits sometimes. A brain that is irrational, that cannot process things and keep the significance of events in their proper magnitude. I imagine one bad grade, one bad day, ruining my future. I see my dreams crumble around me, I feel my existence decay to dust. It does not cause me to panic. Instead, I become numb. I stop picturing my future when I am afraid it is ruined. I pretend I am dead, I pretend my life will not stretch beyond the next day’s sunrise. I lose hope and I lose interest in having hope.

Days like this happen less than they used to. I once spent weeks in bed because everything felt grey, everything felt insurmountable. I once went months without feeling like I could function normally. Now a few hours haunt me. I live normally, I am healthy, mostly, with short bouts of grayness. A few days maybe, not a week. I have grown. But it does not mean what I am trying to do isn’t incredibly difficult. I am trying to manage a healthy person’s schedule without the resource of a healthy brain. I am not ignoring my responsibilities. I am not bad at managing time. I am simply hoping I have the wherewithal tomorrow to handle what my brain could not today. I will not apologize for suffering from depression. I will not make excuses for bad grades when I am handed them. It is not my fault I didn’t do work yesterday. It is not my fault I couldn’t sleep and it is not my fault I spent three years of my life trying to be healthy instead of learning an ancient language. I’ll be better one day, but right now, recovery takes my time and my focus. When I have no energy for school, for friendships, for life, it is simply because I spent it all trying to stay alive.