She said it would be like this; I would get thrown into a pool of chaos, encapsulated by responsibilities and routines. Well she was right, my therapist that is, and I had a feeling that her inference wouldn’t be far from true, but now that I have soaked in this pool for about a week and a half now, I can definitely feel the power of being drenched in routines; I’m finally distracted. There’s hardly any time to process the stress of starting a new degree, working to help build a new nursing program, preparing to teach aspiring nurses how to be great, while caring for my family, as well as wondering how I am going to mentally care for myself through all this. There’s just no room for the thoughts that have consumed my idle mind once before; I simply had too much time on my hands, time for depression to take over every aspect of my being, because I wasn’t distracted.
I loved the idea of becoming a full time nursing instructor at a college. Getting time off to enjoy holidays and a few months of uninterrupted time with my daughters over the summer, was a dream come true, but with all the zoo visits I pushed myself to do with my girls, or simply taking a little time to “rest”, wasn’t enough of a distraction for me. I feel horrible admitting this, but being idle with my mind, during the longest relapse of my life, with no daily set plan of action, was a thorn in my road to recovery. My daughters are my world and of course I pressed earnestly through the darkest of moments to plan outings for them and to be engaged with them as best I could, but that time was so weighed down and smothered by depression’s hold on my mind, that those moments weren’t enough to pull me up out of what seemed like an abyss from hell.
School has always been my saving grace, the perfect combination of eustress (good stress) and distress (more work), but saving grace nonetheless. Have I been overwhelmed since I started the PhD program and have gone back to working on my lectures for the new school year at my job!? Definitely, but, I have noticed that the physiologic response of headaches, fast heart rate, and hopelessness has not plagued me in moments of stress, as it has done in the recent past.
What VICTORY! Seriously, I’m not sure if it is the medicine I should thank for this, or the combination of medicine, consistent coping skills use, and Jesus that I owe the pleasure of saying thank you to; I believe it’s the latter. Talks of how many scholarly journal articles I would have to read, short deadlines given to me to complete lengthy job tasks, and inconvenient surgical pain, crippling my ability to help with my girls at times, would typically send me over a mental ledge, but through positive self talk, and the distraction of being immersed in things I like to do, has helped tremendously.
No, I’m not cured from depression, although that would be great, but I am happy with where I am with it and even more filled with joy ( wow, haven’t felt like that or said that word in a while!) that I am honestly deep in stress with all that is going on in my life, but I’m lying here calmly, without any haze of lowness, or intense cloud of helplessness, ready to burst from irritability only the hulk would be able to empathize with; I’m feeling good!
I went out to dinner with five people I just met on Monday, and have attached to them fast and with ease, considering we will be working together as a PhD cohort for the next 4-5 years, which is so unlike me. I would have gotten all of my assignments in class, gotten really stressed, overwhelmed, and filled with anxiety, cried, allowing the negative talk of depression to beat me down, and just like the true introvert I can be, go home to avoid the internal storm of social anxiety.
But I enjoyed NAMA sushi bar in midtown, and most importantly, I enjoyed having the control and growth in my journey with depression and anxiety, to feel what I felt, but not allowing it to consume me and keep me from LIVING.
The mind is an amazing instrument.