Written by Cait Grogan
In late November this year I was forced to withdraw from Dalhousie University and move back home to New Brunswick. Admitting that I needed help was the hardest thing I had ever done.
Last semester I realized that I can’t do everything. I was working two jobs, four volunteer positions, sitting on 3 committees and taking a full time course load. At first it was exciting, then it started to set in that I couldn’t do everything – as much as I wanted to. I was taking over the lead role on group projects, I was doing all my homework, studying as much as I could, every time someone asked me to do something I said yes. Another committee? Sure. Want me to move into an executive (and obviously more time consuming) role? Of course. Another part time job? Why not!
I’ve always been a people pleaser, and it started to take over my life.
As my mental health started to decline, and I slipped back into a major depressive episode, I didn’t know what to do. I was paralyzed with fear, I didn’t want to be a failure, but I was sure that I if were to quit I would be viewed as one. I fought it out until the last second, until I hit a crisis point. I knew I either needed to move home and focus on myself or I was going to completely lose myself. I’ve never been good at saying no. I’ve never quit. The idea was terrifying to me. I was so embarrassed when the day finally came that I realized I needed to go home. Calling my mother was the most heartbreaking thing I had ever done. All I wanted was to be perfect and I was so ashamed to admit that I couldn’t do everything. I didn’t want to disappoint any of the people who were relying on me.
As hard as the decision was to make, I know it was the best one I could have ever made.
I am slowly starting to get myself back, eating more, laughing more, going out, enjoying myself – all things that are hard to do when you’re paralyzed by the fear of letting others down. I’ve realized that I didn’t let anyone else down, except for myself by allowing it to get to the point where I either needed to give up everything or give up myself. I’ve learned my lesson, I am slowly learning to say no, learning to take back my life, learning to be selfish for my own sake.
Please take this as a reminder to only take on what you can handle, to remember that you CAN say no, that you don’t have to do EVERYTHING, no matter how much you may want to.