Why taking a break can be the most productive thing to do

By DIVA PAREKH | May 4, 2017

Well, it’s finally here. I am officially halfway through my time at Hopkins, as much as I would love to scream “LALALALA” at anyone who dares to bring it up.

Having spent the past hour shooting marshmallows at my friends using a $5 marshmallow shooter from Spring Fair, I can’t say I’m much of an adult. I still don’t know what I want to do with my life. I’m so financially responsible that even if the marshmallow shooter were $25, I would still have bought it.

But somehow, even through all the ridiculousness, I don’t think I’ve ever grown as much as I have this semester.

Spring didn’t start off on the best note. I had just fallen off a horse and spent the entirety of intersession in a painkiller-induced haze. The first few months were occupied by cycles of physical therapy, pain, failed side planks, more pain, more physical therapy and $800 medical bills.

I just never gave myself time to recover. I threw myself into my classes, helping organize SOHOP and of course The News-Letter. I attended every single baseball game, even the six-hour doubleheaders, and somehow I’d still finish my assignments. I’d limp around from meeting to meeting and forget to breathe in between.

And then, before I knew it, I was out of breath.

Anyone who knows me knows that once I go in to copy edit on Wednesdays, they won’t see me until Thursday. I was running on two hours of sleep in two days because of SOHOP and The News-Letter. I had a test the next day that I hadn’t studied for. My article coming clean about my childhood sexual abuse was about to be published the following week.

But suddenly, in the middle of editing an article, I broke. I left the Gatehouse hiding my tears and stumbled into Nolan’s. My friend sat with me for an hour while I panicked, just listening, telling me I’d be fine, that he knew I could do this even though I didn’t.

I went back. I edited. I took the test and was pleasantly surprised when I got a 50 percent on it instead of a zero. In the next few weeks after that, I broke down at least five more times. First it was my OCD flaring up like it hadn’t done since high school. Then it was the sleep-deprived anxiety that wouldn’t let me sleep.

Then the article got published and I don’t know why but every message of support I got made my blood pound until I couldn’t handle it anymore and broke down crying again.

I don’t know how many times I came into my living room holding back tears that just spilled as soon as my roommates said hi. With every single incident, I felt even worse. My friends shouldn’t have had to deal with the mess that I had turned into. I hated myself for letting them help me; I hated that I couldn’t help myself.

I just kept going because I didn’t know how to stop. I didn’t know what would happen if I stopped. But then last week, I called my therapist at 3 a.m., and she could not have been more clear when she spoke above my panicky rambling, “Take. A. Break.”

Well, this was the perfect weekend for it. My friends and I didn’t really feel like going to the concert, so we decided to just walk around that night. We ended up at the baseball field, and just lay there. I don’t know how long it was, but it felt like hours.

And for the first time in months, I took a breath.

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