I go back to work tomorrow. It’s been nearly two months since I’ve done ‘work’; I’m a nursing instructor at a local college, and preparation for my lectures, ensuring that my students get the most out of their learning experience, is so important to me. I’m never a procrastinator, but procrastination has been inching in my sacred circle of type A abilities, a lot since the end of the last school year. Never mind the fact that I had a second admission for medication adjustments in May, terrible struggles with my mood adjusting to the newest medication, and a recent major surgery, that has triggered me to experience a sense of hopelessness like I’ve never experienced before, but I’ve simply been exhausted; I NEEDED this summer break to have my struggles and relish in the few moments of peace of mind when I could, but reality really set in today, and though I wasn’t consciously thinking about it, the idea of going back to work made me anxious.
I love teaching in higher education. I love preparing beautiful power points and activities for my students, excitedly anticipating sharing my hard work at the appropriate time. So why am I so anxious?
Depression simply doesn’t like change. It’s use to its old ways; negativity, immobility, stagnation, and deprivation. I feel like this is why I am dreading going back to work. It’s because of this grey area that I wrestle with daily, on all levels of my life, that I have to constantly self talk myself out of giving into this heavy cloud of a dark routine. I literally have to say, “This isn’t real, you aren’t that tired, you aren’t incapable of being a great teacher, you aren’t worthless”. It’s taken me a while to swiftly get into this mode of self positive talk at the moment depression decides to rear its ugly head, and try and take away my successful mobility through life. But I HAVE to do that, or I will fall so deep that I will be convinced that I don’t need to work, because my lack of concentration or ability to think at times, due to depression, is permanent and never going away. I will convince myself that this PhD program I’m starting next week, is the worst idea, because that other worldly exhaustion I usually feel and the unpredictability of motivation I have day to day, will cause me to fail.
But that’s why I decided to return to working full time in January of this year; that’s why I applied for the PhD program, a goal that existed prior to depression, because I refuse to let this illness dictate what direction my life will go. Living with an illness that takes so much control from you, you yearn to try to find control somewhere, it may be unhealthy or it may be healthy, but you yearn for it. So my control throughout this journey, has been to keep on track with the goals that I have set, while fighting off the urge to succumb to the unhealthy modes of control. When I was at my lowest, without medication in my system, hospitalized and feeling hopeless, did I want to just cancel all I had to do in my life? Yes, but if I did that, I know I would never get better; there would always be that lingering disappointment in myself for allowing a seemingly permanent feeling, to determine my destination in life, and the frightening potential of this reality is what has helped me to stay the course in life.
So as I prepare to lay out my clothes, fighting the agony of conjuring up the brain cells to pick out a bright and stylish outfit, something that I’ve always loved to do and had no problem doing before, I check off these tasks on my life’s to do list, pushing forward, with the weight of that grey area surrounding me, having faith that one day (though not easy at times), as long as I am breathing, there is a chance that I won’t dread tomorrow, some day.