Surviving keeps you from the alternative, dying. But it's not quite living.
Today is the first day of my spring break; it's a day off in the sense that I don't have to worry about going to class, but I do have to work tonight. I'm also not off the hook with the assignments I have to do, as they're still there waiting for me. I'm taking today to sleep in, to drink coffee, to make a decent breakfast and lunch, and most important get my house in order. My mental health can usually be measured by how clean and up tight my house is, and right now it's not that clean. So today I'll clean, too.
I haven't felt well lately. I haven't been sick, but I don't remember the last day when I woke up feeling good, refreshed, and ready for anything. I have thought about it, examined things, talked to a counselor at school, and talked to my psych expert at the VA Hospital. I'm not happy-- meaning, I'm not happy with the way things in general are going. It's not depression, although it feels a little like that. Call it dissatisfied, restless, not in control. I want to feel decent when I wake up. I want my life back.
I have to work; work is what pays some of the bills. The hard part about being an adult returning student is that you're really and truly on your own. Mom doesn't pay your rent. Dad doesn't pay the car insurance. You don't get care packages in the mail. Financial aid only gets you so far when you're responsible for everything. It takes all three-- education benefits, student loans, and personal income-- to pay for everything. It probably doesn't help that I've been damn near homeless at more than one point in my life, and so I don't like to have zero resources. I could probably live on less (and work less) but having $10 to my name isn't someplace I want to be again. (Having no money as a college student works a lot better when you can call home for money if you're desperate.)
Fortunately, my work schedule takes a break from now through summer. I still have one job the rest of the semester, but it's two nights a week-- very manageable. One of my classes is also done for the semester, so that's one less class meeting a week, and one to two less assignments a week to worry about.
I have this week to relax, recover, get some sleep, straighten things out, and hopefully get myself caught up.
There are times when keeping yourself alive is the most important thing in the world. Focus on the basics-- food, clothing, shelter. Attain those. But once you have those things squared away, once you're in an environment where your mission is not to not die, but instead to live, then it's time to live. Happiness isn't survival. Happiness is living.