Something that I have been feeling this semester is the “-ritis,” something I call, or maybe heard from somebody, describing “abroad-ritis.” It is totally real since the next semester I am, hopefully, going abroad (I mention “hopefully” because I never take anything for granted). The first month, I felt like I wanted to be here at Brandeis, but at the same time I did not. All I thought was the thought of going away—abroad—maybe I still am?

On the other hand, it could also be that, even though I am not a senior, it feels pretty close (not really, but that is what my mind tells itself). Anyway, I have fought against it so badly and I seem to be succeeding, otherwise this blog wouldn’t be writing itself, I promise you that.

I have the sensation that every semester I tend to over do commitments and I end up juggling them all. This semester, I am taking five courses, I kept my two jobs, at human resources and at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism, I am writing for The Justice newspaper, and I am applying for summer internships and programs, and handling with paperwork and visa protocols for abroad. It is all going pretty well thus far, but it is draining and stressful. Every semester I push through, regardless of how tough or daunting the task seems to be, although I feel like there is always a hindrance that wishes for me to fail.

I am not vulnerable ladies and gentlemen and this semester I have a little hindrance too. Exactly two weeks ago, I found myself swaddled with a big depression that I could not explain myself why. Actually, I could explain the reasons behind it, but I rather not mention too much about. All I can say is that it is love issues. The main premise is that I realized I liked someone or perhaps the idea of that person, but I also arrived to the conclusion, a sad one, that it just was not going to happen. Not now, maybe never, I do not know. It is the cliché of being complicated, is it always?

The idea of not being able to have that someone, depressed me. I kept thinking about the person. I kept thinking about the “what ifs.” It is a feeling I have not had before. A new emotion I learned to dislike since its inception. I entered into this depression. I did not find my classes, my assignments, my time with people enjoyable—nothing. I felt hopeless and in despair. I did not know what to do.

I reached for help, though. This year, I am living in a suite with five supportive, caring and selfless people. Some of them noticed that I was not being me. I felt dejected, I cried with the door being shut, I did not want anybody to find out what was going on.

Yet, I did tell the story privately to people I trusted the most. Two of my suitemates are physiology majors and they have the gift of listening. I could not talk about this with a lot of people because of the promise I made to the person I felt interest for. I have a secret that is very personal to this person and I knew and know I have to respect that and keep it as it is: a secret.

Interesting enough, if I did speak about it, it was in general, vague terms to maintain the person’s secret, secret. But as I talked to others, they all brought their perspectives, they were catering me with their own perceptions and I liked that. I felt I understood more about myself through these conversations until I was able to come out of this blue.

I am not going to say that I have completely recovered, I am only giving myself the time I need and I have been busy with other work. I am not evading the topic, but I am not trying not to obsessed myself about it, especially if I do not know the other person’s feelings and thoughts.

All I can say is that my friendships have helped me in getting to feel better. The point I want to get is that it is important for you to have a strong support base. Surround yourself with the people you connect with and who you feel they understand you. Find your niche. I have to be honest, it took me two years to find it, but it is worth the search, investment, and sift through the countless of not-good-for-you people. The people I live with now, have made my college journey more enjoyable and memorable. They can make me laugh, they can be my family, the can listen to me, they can get me a cup coffee (I can hear myself saying this little phrase in a New Yorker accent), they can help me study, they can be honest with me, they can do unthinkable things for me, and vice versa of course. Their friendship is genuine and that is all you hope for, trust me. Quantity does not matter, quality does, and all I hope is that it continues on that note until graduation comes and beyond that.

I am not sure if the depression will return, but I do have a strong army to battle against it. If it goes beyond my ability to speak it with someone close to me, I will reach for professional help, trust me. That is what you should do if you get involved in some type of feeling-issue. Emotions matter, the fact that academia can shove it aside and pretend like it does not matter is wrong and you should know it.

Take good care of your mental health, fellas.


Santiago Montoya