On August 29th, 2016, I will be sitting in a classroom, at a prestigious university, listening to years of knowledge and experience flow from the mouths of esteemed nurses, who have reached the pinnacle of their career; a PhD in nursing science. Four months ago, after enduring four interviews for a PhD program I had only thought about applying to less than a month prior, I would have never imagined that I would be preparing for such a big step in my career. I can remember feeling honored to have been invited to interview for a PhD program, but under all the smiles I gave and the exuberant attitude I put forth, I was hurting more than ever. Wellbutrin, a new medication I was on at the time, was far from working and making me feel like I was barely hanging on mentally. But, I pushed through the hurt in order to make an attempt at securing a future that I could only hope would be free of hurt.
That is one thing that I have refused to let depression grab a hold of; my dreams. When I first started to have symptoms of depression (after having my first child by c section, being readmitted and released from the hospital three more additional times, grandfather suddenly dying, house catching on fire, all within the span of six weeks, while I was at the tail end of working on my master’s degree), rightly so, I guess it was the motherly instinct growing in me to push through no matter what life threw at me. Although the instinct was there, my ability to look north toward accomplishing my goals, has not always been easy. I almost postponed finishing my master’s degree, because of the immense amount of stress I was under at the time, but I knew that if I gave into that lack of motivation and made a permanent decision on a temporary feeling, I believe that would have put me more at a disadvantage. So, I finished my master’s; a semester later than planned, but I finished it.
Ever since then, I’ve had to defy depression and accomplish my dream of teaching nursing students as a professor at a local university, and now, I have to defy depression again as I get closer to starting this next phase in my career. No less than about a month after my interviews for the PhD program, I was hospitalized for about a week, due to the poor control of my symptoms with Wellbutrin. With such a traumatic experience as being hospitalized , I can’t say that the thought of getting myself engulfed in five years of scholastic stress, didn’t cross my mind as a possible mistake. In fact, I had a dear friend and mentor of mine have a real heart to heart with me and say “You really need to think about starting this PhD program right now”. She was right, I did need to think about what I was getting myself into in the midst of such emotional chaos and mental unpredictability.
As I took time to think about whether it was the right time in my life to make such a big life change, I came to one conclusion after much frustration with such a selfish illness.
I am NOT going to let depression control me living my life.
I had goals and aspirations before depression and why should I let an illness take that away from me, when it has already taken so much from me? My therapist could not have stated my solution to this issue any better. She said that because I have always been able persevere and accomplish things in spite of the chaos around me, it wasn’t a matter of should I not go back to school, but how do you manage the potential stress of school by devising a plan to lessen your workload, rather then postpone starting school; again, she stressed the idea of not making big decisions off of temporary emotions.
So I am continuing to look north. Past the days when I feel like I don’t want to do anything in life, and past depression feeding my subconscious thoughts of “I don’t have enough energy to do anything”. Because if I concentrate on an idea of life heading south, in a current mental state filled with distortion and emptiness, I will only look back on my life with regret. 10 years of mental unpredictability and conquering my goals, will be worth way more to me than 20 years of happiness and wondering about what I could have accomplished. So I’m choosing to look north, remembering that though depression is an ugly illness, there can be periods of relenting, and I’m willing to take a chance on that, and walk on the challenging road to success.