A Job or A Career?

I went to college for art. When my daughter was six, a position became available for an art teacher at my old high school. It was a private school, one which my mother had attended in the 60s, I and my sister attended in the 90s, and I hoped my daughter would attend when she became a teenager. Thinking that having the same schedule and days off as my daughter would be awesome, I applied, interviewed and got the job. My career as an art teacher began. 

Through the years, I completed graduate school for education, receiving my masters degree and K-12 certification. I also incurred massive student loan debt. 

Over the years, my daughter grew older, attended the high school for free, and I grew to dislike the teaching profession. Me, a daughter of two teachers and a teacher myself, hating to teach. As I became more miserable in my career, and the kids saw my frustrations grow, I always told them that if I quit, it wouldn’t be because of them. I once read an article that compared the teaching profession to being in an abusive relationship. You only stay in it for the children. And it’s true. 

No, my frustrations weren’t because of them. Although I encountered more teens with entitlement issues, problems with authority, poor attitudes, bad work ethics, and general apathy, my frustrations lay with other things. Unsupportive administration, helicopter parents, tiger parents, and lack of consistency in school policies were just a few of the many frustrations I had with my job. 

I took on more and more responsibilities- yearbook advisor (I must have been insane!), club advisor, sports coach, scenic artist for the drama program, and even a second job as a server at a casual dining restaurant- and my stress and anxiety levels went through the roof. All of my life, I’ve suffered from depression, something that, until recent years I thought was merely seasonal. With increased stress and anxiety, my depression grew worse. 

Last year I was miserable more often than not. The kids noticed. That’s when I knew things had to change. My daughter was a senior in high school. I just had to stick it out until graduation, and I did. After graduation, I submitted a letter asking for a sabbatical. I was denied one, told that they “don’t do” sabbaticals at that school and this was considered my tendered resignation. 

So I said, PEACE! 

I entered the service industry full time, and no matter how busy a night, I never had remotely as much stress as teaching. I quit teaching and I haven’t looked back. 

So I have massive student loan debt and a masters degree I no longer use. Most days I have swollen feet and ankles, an achy back, and am purely exhausted. I don’t make nearly enough money to survive, should probably take on a second job as I’m in a financial hole and trying to dig my way out, and I get stressed out and depressed because of it. People say they feel sorry for me that I have such a good degree and I’m not using it. Don’t feel sorry for me. As much as life is throwing punches right now, I’m in a much better place than when I was teaching. 

So my career as a teacher became just a job, and my job as a server could become a career. Or perhaps my life will go in a different direction. You never know. 

Small Accomplishments…

…Go a long way for a healthy state of mind. Sometimes they’re absolutely necessary. Like the small accomplishment, hey, I got out of bed today. Or hey, I put on clothes today. 

Today was a day of small accomplishments. Not only did I manage to get out of bed, shower, and get dressed (a feat, I know!), but I was able to work more on my apartment. Since moving almost two weeks ago, some parts of unpacking have gone slowly, having to balance between that, a job, and a side job, and even some sleep. And if you’re like me, you need 8-10 hours of sleep a day. 

I was able to enroll in some benefits through my job- dental, vision, and life insurance. Navigating the portal itself was a small accomplishment. 

Prior to the move, I had stopped washing most laundry and only did small loads of absolutely necessary items. So I’ve been working my way through a gigantic pile. I’m happy to say I got most of it done today. I have two more loads to finish drying and put away. Another tiny win for this girl. 

I took a nap. Not really an accomplishment, but I think I needed the rest. 

I changed the sheets on the beds and even put on bed skirts!

And then I made dinner, and that was a mess of mixed emotions. On the one hand I made shumai from a brand I have purchased before. They were delicious. On the other hand I made crab Rangoon that I picked up at Aldi yesterday. They were awful. I was expecting crab and cream cheese. What I got was crab, cream cheese, carrots, water chestnuts, something unidentifiably green, and various other things. Needless to say, my palate was assaulted. 

Tonight I’ll continue the seemingly never ending task of unpacking, and watch the new Tangled cartoon on Disney. So today was a decently good day with all those small accomplishments. 

I feel good. 

Not All Days Are Bad

Some days are even somewhat good. Today, for instance, was a pretty good day. I got a few things done around the new apartment, made decent money at work (for a lunch), and made a pretty bangin’ dinner of tortellini alfredo. 

Yesterday wasn’t so good. It wasn’t so good because I forgot that not everyone has an open mind like I do. I had been neglecting to tell my mom a key detail about a friend of mine, someone who I think is a good person despite his past. People, and my mom, can be judgmental. So I hadn’t told her. 

But she has this way of pestering you for information, and, against my better judgment, I told her his past. Well. You’d think he was a 9/11 hijacker the way she responded. An argument ensued, and I was reminded yet again about how I make poor choices, have poor judgment in men and friends, and, I don’t really remember the rest because I hung up on her. She’s the type of person who believes a leopard can’t change its spots. I’m the type who believes people can change, and have the right to repent and journey on an enlightened path. 

She thinks this friend of mine will lead me down the wrong path. What upset me the most was that instead of her thinking maybe I am his good influence, she thinks he’s my bad influence. Well, that just isn’t the case and it’s unfortunate that she can’t see that. 

So in order to make things better between me and mom, I’ve decided that I won’t be sharing information about my life with her anymore. The less she knows the less she will unnecessarily worry. Unless she decides to read my blog. 

I wonder what kind of day tomorrow will be? 

Those Normal Ups and Downs of Life…

For someone who suffers from depression, those normal ups and downs of life aren’t so normal. Someone who does not suffer from a mental illness such as depression or even anxiety will have ups and downs, a good day at work or a parking ticket, paying off a bill or breaking something sentimental, and that person will take those normal ups and downs in stride. The ups make them happy, the downs upset them, but they’re soon reconciled with, set aside, and that person is back to their even keel again. 

For someone with depression, those ups are good, but those downs are far worse. And sometimes they can seem like the end of the world, even when they’re not. The other part of it is that those downs, for me anyway, usually snowball. It will start as one thing that will make me slip at the top of the snowy hill, and as I roll down that hill- which becomes a mountain- more downs pile on, making that snowball form into one giant snow boulder that will crash at the bottom. And I’m the one in the center of that snow boulder. 

The other day, that boulder crashed at the bottom of the mountain. I have been behind in bills because of my employment situation of the past few months (more on that in another post), I wound up moving which in and of itself the situation was also one big snowball (perhaps even another post about that), and I had to take out a personal loan for the deposit etc, and wound up paying for TWO rents at the same time. I had some small financial help from family, and I thought I was beginning to dig myself out. 

Until Sunday. 

I was due to open work- I am a server for a casual dining restaurant- at 10:30. I backed out of my driveway slowly, and started to turn but didn’t realize how much room I needed between the driveway and the telephone pole right next to it. I mean literally next to it. One inch, if that. Going so slow, I grazed the pole and you wouldn’t think it would do that much damage. 

It was kind of like the Titanic and the iceberg. Just a slow, even, screech and I was out in the road. I pulled up a little and pulled over, throwing the hazards on. 

The thing about the Titanic and the iceberg is, well…

The Titanic sank. 

And so had my bumper. It was hanging on by a few clips on one side. A frantic and upset call to my manager later, I was on a mission to fix the bumper and get going. I called everyone I knew was in the area for some assistance, which amounted to two people, one wasn’t answering and the other I woke from sleep. He showed up and didn’t do much more than I already had by pushing the bumper back on. A cop showed up, and since it was a telephone pole he insisted he needed to file an accident report. Fun. 

I was a little late but I was on my way to work. I had to stop twice in the parkway due to the loudness of whatever was dragging underneath my car. It was pretty scary, I’ll admit, and I was in tears the whole way to work. Because who knows how much it’ll cost to fix too?

Now, because I was late, I missed out on extra tables that openers get before the second wave of servers arrive at noon. So, missed money. The rest of the day went okay, until my last three tables. One, was a 4top that was so needy they had me running in circles, made a huge mess, told me at the very end after I dropped the check that they wanted it split, rang up a collective $200 bill and left me a whopping $11 for my troubles. 

The next was a family of 4, first time guests with two special needs teenagers. They loved everything, service was excellent, they would return. $115 bill, left me $6. 

The last was a 4 top and again, excellent service, loved everything, $95 check, left me $5. 

So the day ended with me being severely undertipped, not making close to what I need to on a daily basis, and me having to drive all the way home to pick up my daughter and then make a 3 hour round trip to her college and back. 

Needless to say, the tears returned on the drive home, and so did the demons. I pulled myself together for the trip to college, but the ride home again was another one fraught with tears and demons. My day was shit and I couldn’t wait for it to be over. 

But these ups and downs to someone else would seem minor. To me, they’re like the end of the world. The demons whisper that I’m not good enough, I’m a fuck up loser, I’ve wasted my life, I wasted my education and career, I’ll never amount to anything. 

At the end of the day, my dogs waited for me to cuddle and play, and my bed was warm and non-judgmental. And somehow, the not quite so normal ups and downs of that day faded away as I slept, and even though my situation hadn’t changed, the demons quieted down as I caged them once again. 

What I Continue to Live For

Although my inner demons would like to make it seem that my life is terrible, I’m a horrible person, I’m ugly, fat, and a loser with no friends, there’s two things that have kept me alive so far. Everyone who suffers from depression needs a constant, something that is always there, something that grounds them. When life gets rough and the demons tell me it would be easier if I didn’t exist, these are the things that I cling to. 

My most important constant is my daughter. She is currently an 18 year old college student at one of the top division I universities, where she holds down a work study job at the law library, is a member of the chorus and anime club, and for the fall semester retained a 4.0, which she is on track to keep for this semester. She is my entire world. Everything I can do, I do for her. I go without so she can have. 

Mental illness often runs in families, and unfortunately, she got it from both sides of her genetics. She has also struggled with the demons of depression throughout middle and high school, but she seems to be doing well in college. 

She is my constant. If I were to die, where would she go? Who would take care of her? Not her father, clearly. Not only that, but she would be devastated without me. We are very close. 

My other constant, and this may seem silly to some, is my dogs. One is an almost four year old chihuahua and jack Russell mix, Hiro. The other is a two year old I have no idea what mix, Tessa. Hiro I have had since he was 5 months old and has been my constant companion. He hates being separated from me, even going on hunger strikes when I’m not there. He has been my baby, my love, my cuddle buddy, and my emotional support for three years. Tessa is a fountain of love and endless energy. She is everyone’s friend at the dog park, and the one that makes me get up out of bed in the morning. But as much as I need them, I know they need me more. With overcrowding in shelters, if I wasn’t here, where would they go? Surely Hiro would starve to death on a hunger strike. 

So those are my two constants that help keep me sane and stay my hand from self execution. I hope that if you, reader, suffer from depression like I do, you have a constant or will soon find one. 

Regrets

Yes I don’t have many regrets in life. In fact, I try to live without them. But of the few I have, there’s one that bothers me the most. It bothers me because no matter how good of a person I try to be, I know I had these past moments of anger and pettiness that I’ll never forget. And that made me a horrible person. 

January, 2000. 

I don’t remember the context of the conversation, but I remember a family dinner with my parents, both of my maternal grandparents, my brother, sister, my husband at the time, and my 1/1/2 year old daughter. It was dark outside, no light breaking through the sliding glass doors to the deck. Grandma was to my right, my daughter’s high chair squeezed between us. My grandfather, Pop Pop, sat at the opposite end of the table from Gram. 

Whatever the conversation, Pop Pop had been really cranky the past few days. The conversation became heated, it escalated, and finally, having completely lost my temper with him, I asked him why he didn’t die already. 

Harsh, I know. Probably the worst words ever uttered to someone. I instantly regretted it, but it did end the argument and I guess he realized just how miserable he had been the last few days. 

But as for me, I let the anger envelop me. The next few days I avoided him, didn’t speak to him. Four nights later, just as Pop Pop was heading off to bed and I sat at the dining room table, he paused in the kitchen. He called to me, and wished me goodnight. And me in my pettiness, I said nothing. I ignored him. He lingered a few moments, waiting for me to respond, but I never did and he retired to his room for the night. 

The next morning, as I was hurriedly getting ready for my class at the local university, I noticed Pop Pop had been in the bathroom an unusually long time. I needed to brush me teeth and put in my contacts, but I let it go until it was the very last things I needed to do. Finally I couldn’t wait any longer and I rapped on the bathroom door. 

No answer. 

I called him by name. Still no answer. 

My heart racing and not knowing what to do, I ran up to Gram’s room and told her what was going on. She came down and also knocked and called to him, with no answer. She tried to open the door. It was blocked. 

It was my turn to try. I got the door open a sliver and could see my grandfather curled on the floor, his walker against the sink. I struggled to push the door open further, it scooted him slightly out of the way. He was purple. 

The next hour or so is a blur, but I remember a frantic 911 call, my husband trying to do CPR, calling out of class for the day and an EMT grabbing the phone from me when I sank into a sobbing mess on my bed. 

The point here I want to make is that in my moments of pettiness, my grandfather died thinking I hated him. I let my anger consume me and it is one of my biggest regrets in life. 

People say that he was hanging on and I gave him a release, told him it was okay to go. I say that’s bullshit. I was an asshole. People say he knows I didn’t mean it, that he knows I love him, but that’s bullshit too. If there is no afterlife, that man died thinking I hated him. If there is an afterlife, but we don’t achieve an all knowing consciousness, he doesn’t know how much I love him and regret what I said to him. I am a horrible human being, and this is just one of many reasons that I hate myself. 

I have cried many tears over this, but there’s no penance I can do, nothing I can ever say or do to make this right. And so, it eats me up. 

Just the first of many confessions of a depressive self-loather. 

Journey into the mind of a depressiveĀ 

This is my first blog post; that isn’t to say I haven’t blogged before, it’s just my first one here. As someone who suffers from depression, I frequently battle the inner demons that make my life difficult. They’re the demons that make it hard to get out of bed some days. The demons that whisper how worthless and useless I am. The demons that make me wonder if life is truly worth living. 

I’m a high functioning depressive. For many, I seem like a perfectly happy, normal human being. I’m an overachiever, a perfectionist, a leader. That just means I hide it well. Inside, I fight those demons. It’s an exhausting fight. A fight that, if I don’t win, I’ll die by my own hand. 

Currently, I’m not taking medication. Having no affordable health insurance since the end of August 2016, I haven’t been able to afford the one drug that would make my life that much more livable. Previously, I took a generic Prozac, and, it did a pretty good job of keeping the demons at bay. A side effect of it was that I managed everyday stress pretty damn well. 

This blog is my attempt to make sense out of my life, to battle those demons head on, and to perhaps one day learn to love myself again instead of all this self-loathing that I harbor. 

Welcome to the journey.

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