I found myself staying in bed all day, not wanting to see anyone, not wanting to go anywhere. I had little energy and low self-confidence. I felt shame and embarrassment that I wasn’t functioning like I thought I should be.
A fourth-year undergraduate in university, I thought I might be suffering from some kind of memory impairment. I went into an exam which I had studied for, and couldn’t understand a word on the test paper. I couldn’t remember anything I had crammed into my brain for the past three days.
My professors kindly let me postpone that exam and gave me indefinite extensions on two papers after I confessed I was feeling suicidal. “No exam or undone paper is worth killing yourself over!” one understanding teacher said.
Despite overwhelming anxiety at my ability to perform or even talk to anyone at a conference I had committed to go to, I forced myself to get on the plane. I was shaking in terror of failure. I traveled 3000 miles to be at the conference near where my mother and little brother had moved to, across Canada, after the divorce from my father. Visiting friends in their 22nd floor Toronto apartment, I wanted to throw myself off their balcony.