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my problem list by Mel N. '24

weird brain things

the hours i’ve spent in bed recently have added up, pointing to one conclusion:

i am depressed glittery text

actually, i only recently discovered that i’ve been diagnosed with clinical depression since late december.

here’s how that went: during my last therapy session, i asked my therapist about how i can go about getting an official depression diagnosis. this was because mit’s covid cases have been… concerningly high lately01 ring delivery also happened recently for the class of 2024, and i swear all the sophomores were dropping like flies afterwards , although they no longer display that data on the covid dashboard. (publicly, at least.)

anyway, every day i’d wake up to a new message from someone saying they tested positive, and when i developed a sore throat on the last wednesday of april, i could almost feel covid looming threateningly over me.

it turns out it wasn’t covid, as multiple negative pcrs and rapids proved over the course of a week. but anyways, i saw a message that petey sent that talked about antiviral treatments:

crucially, if you are considered a high risk person (which: do you have depression, ADHD, or other mental health problems? is your BMI over 25? have you ever smoked?), you immediately qualify for Paxlovid (the best antiviral treatment we have), but you have to begin treatment within a few days of symptom onset / a positive test

“huh,” i said. “well, i’m probably depressed, but i’d need that on some official record if i got covid and wanted to get paxlovid.”

when i brought it up to my therapist, she seemed a little taken aback.

“oh, i already diagnosed you with depression the first couple of times we met,” she said. “i think it should be on your chart? maybe you just can’t see it.”

sure enough, when i went poking around on healthelife02 the appointment scheduling platform that mit medical uses afterwards, i found it: my problem list

my reaction:

Surprised Pikachu | Know Your Meme

i thought i’d been self-diagnosing depression this WHOLE TIME, and you’re telling me i’ve actually been going to therapy specifically for depression for FIVE MONTHS?? clown moment.

in any case, depressive episodes come and go, and this latest one has been hitting me pretty hard. getting sick definitely didn’t help. my sore throat made it hurt to swallow and when it started migrating up my sinuses, affecting my nose and inducing pain in my ears, it was difficult to fall asleep.

and i wasn’t going to classes because i obviously didn’t want to get people sick, but that made me fall behind even more, and now i have a crap ton of lectures and assignments to catch up on. i couldn’t work on them while i was sick, either, because just breathing was a chore. you know that feeling when one side of your nose is clogged and the other side feels like the sahara desert? yeah.

i’m no longer sick, but i’m still feeling some of the mental and physical aftereffects. namely, it’s been so hard to drag myself out of bed. and even when i spend time in bed, i’m not necessarily resting–my sleep schedule is all messed up right now. i go to bed at like, 3 or 4 and wake up at 12, which is still a decent amount of sleep, but that’s because i’m not going to lectures, and even though i feel well-rested when i wake up, there’s this bone-deep exhaustion that prevents me from being productive.

it’s the end of the semester, too, which means i don’t really have that much work left to do, but the fact that i’m almost done more often than not makes me feel like it’s pointless to put a lot of effort into things, and summoning up the energy to finish things off strong has been hard.

i think the fact that i’m writing this post means things are getting a little better, though. this beats sitting at my desk staring into space and experiencing Thoughts™.

the Thoughts™ typically consist of the following:

  • A: reflecting on my friendships and relationships
  • B: thinking about my interests and hobbies, past and present
  • C: thinking about career and academic stuff and immediately trying to think about other things because it stresses me out. we will also not be talking about this here due to that reason.

let’s dissect A and B a little more.


A: i believe that one of my biggest points of pain this year comes from the fact that my social circles have gone through a lot of changes–and some of those changes really hurt. i thought i would remain close friends with certain people, and now we’re not as close as we used to be. some of those separations happened naturally as we drifted apart, general hosage and physical distance pushing us away from the shores of each other. others happened more abruptly. all of them had a pretty big impact on me. if you look at my posts from this year, you can see me dancing around this topic, never explicitly talking about what happened but finding ways to express my grief anyway.

and as a result i think i have accumulated issues with letting people in and trusting them because now my brain is wired all wrong. (what if they leave? what if we leave each other? what if they replace me? what if they no longer need me?)

i’m a high maintenance machine. (what if they see me and all of my insecurities and fears and they decide that’s too much?)

but also, sometimes, you let people in and they don’t leave. sometimes you let people in and they see all of you, all of your insecurities and fears and your barely-suppressed belief that deep down inside, you’re a monster, and they still don’t leave.

this is hard to understand. you’ve shown them the worst parts of you, so why are they still here? and the answer is: you are not as unlovable as you think you are. your flaws are not as unforgivable as you think they are.

and people are always allowed to leave, and some people are always going to leave, and that’s okay. it just means that maybe your friendship has ran its course and you’ve outgrown each other. but if they’re the right person, they’re not going to leave.

this is what i have been trying to internalize recently. i’ve been relearning how to let people approach me instead of always keeping my guards up.


B: alright, so maybe it’s the depression talking, but i feel like i’ve given up on interests and hobbies that used to make me happy.

i don’t know–i think it’s a function of the fact that i always used to have some sort of media that i was obsessed with and clearly brought me a lot of joy. for a while it was chinese webnovels, and then it was my hero academia, and then i got really into creating original characters for a while. but recently, it’s been…nothing?

i mean, i’ve been watching tv shows and stuff–heartstopper was really good–but nothing has really caught my interest the way it used to. that’s kind of because i got busy with school and trying to balance other real life commitments, but it is really strange not having any comfort media to return to.

actually, that’s not true. i think that, instead of fictional media, i’ve just started relying on music and spotify playlists a lot more to cope with things.

but it just sucks because i even stopped drawing. doing art was such a huge part of my personality for years, and i haven’t touched my pen to draw anything for myself in months. i’ve been thinking about picking it up again but a part of me is afraid that i’ve lost the ability to draw and that everything will come out fucked up and wonky. because, you know, art is a skill you have to hone through practice, which is not something i’ve been doing.

and you know what? i started thinking about all of this because i was on facetime with my friend ryan from high school who i haven’t talked to in a while, and he asked, “so what have you been up to? like i don’t know, what are your recent hobbies and interests and stuff?”

and it took me forever to come up with an answer. i guess i’ve been really into cooking and baking, but the more i think about it…that’s kind of it.

which is a little scary, because as much as i like that stuff…there’s got to be more, right? so why can’t i think of anything? why do certain things no longer make me happy?

but i guess that’s also something that’s okay. things don’t have to make me happy forever and maybe they’ll make me happy again in the future.


i think a key realization is that the more i think about it, i really don’t miss who i was. i think this year, i’ve spent way too much time trying to cling to the past, dwelling in it, trying to keep things the same, but also change is…okay. and i don’t like everything about myself right now, but i don’t necessarily want to go back to the way things were.

we move forward, not backwards. and it will be okay.

  1. ring delivery also happened recently for the class of 2024, and i swear all the sophomores were dropping like flies afterwards back to text
  2. the appointment scheduling platform that mit medical uses back to text