I felt like I was in highschool, finally starting a new year, even closer to fleeing from the pettiness of adolescence, and transitioning onto a new stage in life; it was the first day of school. Although I was nervous as a cat ( that is if cats even get nervous; well it sounded good enough to say), it wasn’t the woes of highschool I was facing today, instead, it was a routine walk down a familiar path that I had visited a few times before; college. The bachelors’ degrees have been obtained, the master degree was finished in one piece, and for some crazy hope on faith, I felt that it was necessary to apply for a PhD program, because that’s what people who are severely depressed, normally do right?! I’m sure it’s not common, and I’ve encountered my fair share of strong urges not to embark on this mentally taxing journey, for the sake of my sanity, but through all the frustration and tears depression has brought me for so many months now, I couldn’t help but still ask myself: “Why not get a PhD?!”
Yeah I’m depressed. Yeah it’s an unpredictable illness, filled with moments of really low lows, making a temporary feeling seem extremely real, as well as permanent, but my life isn’t temporary; I’m here permanently, at least for the time being, so why not live while I am yet living, because I can? Depression tries really hard to say I am encapable of living, but these trials are just like any other trials in life, trials that I would normally deal with, accept, and move on. So I’m doing just that; dealing with it and moving on, cause why the heck not?
So much confidence I had, as I walked down the familiar halls of the same prestigious university I received my prior education. Everything was going so well; I woke up on time, got out of the house on time, the sun was shining, and I didn’t break a sweat, avoiding ruining my beautifully picked out power outfit, meant with hopes of boosting my mood ( Green is the new black). All was well in the brain and body of Dominique, until I walked into the small and very intimate classroom, with less than 10 students, and immediately felt my heart start to take off running, and the perspiration start to shimmer, as reality set in and I was reminded that I was ACTUALLY starting a PhD program. Anxiety was like, Yo, did you forget I lived inside of you?! Yes Anxiety, I was coping well before you showed up, letting the warm breeze and gorgeous scenery surrounding me on campus, be my mindfulness, distracting me from the dark cloud that hovers over me daily.
Duh, Dominique, you have to introduce yourself, you have to talk about your research proposal, and yes, this IS happening! It was like my mind was on an island, oblivious to the outside world, but thrown suddenly into an altered sense of reality, like I was a character on Lost; oh how I miss that show. I was too far gone at that point, suddenly forgetting all that I had accomplished in my career, confused about my phenomenon of interest, as though I hadn’t thoroughly thought it out and drawn a concept map displaying the research I had already started on; my words were jumbled at times, and I just wanted to get through with introductions, all five of them. I was my own worst critic, making something out of nothing, silently telling myself that the faculty and fellow aspiring scholars, were judging me and mentally recording how unintelligent I was; thank you anxiety, you have been a real nuisance lately! Finally, the lowness of depression and emotional roller coaster of tears and screams have calmed down, only to let anxiety have its way; is it the medicine I’m on, or just another problem? I’m not sure, but I knew after the second introduction speech, I had to cope and get it together.
So I coped, remembering the guidance of my therapist telling me to differentiate between reality or facts, and anxiety. The storm of chaos was definitely anxiety, no doubt about it. So I played this game of silent mental inquiry, as each student continued to tell everybody about how great they are and what they can contribute to society; fascinating individuals I must say. As I played this mind game, the situation oddly didn’t seem that bad.
Who cares what they think! I’m here for a reason! I’m intelligent and I know my stuff!
So I began to feed off of this positivity, as my heart rate began to slow and the intense breathing calmed. What a difference coping made, using the skills that I have recently learned from simply seeking help. Recognizing that I had a problem, not being in denial about it, owning it in that moment, and letting the angst live in an odd harmony with my life, got me to a place where I wasn’t bolting for the exit, holding back tears as I call my husband, feeling defeated and hopeless.
Praise the Lord!
Today was a victory, a new beginning, a coupling of a dark journey with a positively challenging journey, but a victory nonetheless; I didn’t let the effects of my relapse keep me from pursuing my goal, keep me from going back to school.
Relapse didn’t defeat me, I am defeating relapse.