So here’s the thing…

I haven’t been in a good mood for a while. I haven’t been upset or in a negative emotional place, at least not one that lasts for very long. But what I haven’t experienced is that feeling of optimism and excitement. Sometimes in the middle of the school day, I’ll find myself thinking about going home and putting my feet up and even that simple thought puts me in a really good mood. Or this weekend, knowing that tonight is Sunday night and I don’t have to work tomorrow because of Veterans Day. That should elevate my spirits, but it’s not. Those temporary moments of joy have been replaced by thoughts of work that has to be done for school, deadlines for extra things that I am responsible for, and guilt for weight gain and blood pressure that is dangerously high–guilt because I’m not currently doing anything to remedy my physical conditions. All of this, plus wondering why it’s been three weeks since I’ve heard from my mother. In an unusual way, I have not received any texts from her. I don’t expect phone calls anymore, that would mean something is wrong, but no communication whatsoever. My thought is that she is holding out on contacting me to see how long it will be before I reach out to her. I could be wrong, but not likely when it comes to her. I’ve been going back and forth with bitter thoughts about this non-existent mother/daughter relationship. Good thing I didn’t decide to abandon therapy. I have an appointment this Tuesday, perfect timing. I have an appointment every third Tuesday, but I tend to cancel every other appointment. I’m keeping this one, as I feel that I’m on the verge of crying a bit too frequently lately.

So much weighs on my mind all…the…time. None of these things seem to be harbingers of that feeling of happiness I miss. I recently finished writing an essay for the annual non-fiction contest I enter every year. I’m almost tempted to not enter this year. I don’t think my writing is what this particular magazine is looking for. I have found other publications that I’d like to submit my piece to, in the hopes that I can continue to get my story out there so I can potentially help break this damn stigma that exists. This stigma is real. To the point where I was sitting in the waiting room at my therapist’s office and I was nearly 100% certain that a parent of one of my students was also in the waiting room. We didn’t speak, we didn’t make eye contact, and inside I was cringing and praying that my name would be called as soon as possible so I could get out of there. Granted, she was there too, but I’m her son’s teacher. How does that make me look? These feelings of embarrassment for being there are absolutely not necessary, but they are also automatic. Automatic because society has made it that way. Recently Lady Gaga became an outspoken advocate for ending the mental health stigma after she openly talked about her own battle with depression and suicidal thoughts. I’ve always enjoyed her music, but her openness makes me respect her on a much different level.

I usually try to wrap up posts here on a positive note. An expression of hope for the future or a new found determination to go out and do something…but not now. I don’t feel hopeful and I don’t feel depressed. I’m just here, moving forward, doing my work, doing the best I can, and sometimes, that’s all there is. And that’s o.k. too.

One thought on “So here’s the thing…

  1. I want you to know that you are not alone. Those of us who struggle to keep mental illness under control know all to well the signs that it is gaining ground on us. (even alluding to you having a “mental illness” seems somehow judgemental or sanctimonious).
    When I read the posts you make when you are feeling good, I am amazed at all the hats you wear! So many responsibilities for you church, your school and your students! Additionally, to hear you putting your knitting and crocheting (among other things) on the “Maybe If I Have Time” list, alarms me. You have been sacrificing your own well-being in order to see to everyone else’s.
    Years ago I found myself overwhelmed with the responsibilities of a single parent to two pre-schoolers, struggling to cope with spiraling depression. A friend’s mother gave me some timeless, spot-on advice. I’m going to pass it on to you: If you don’t take care of yourself FIRST – physically, spiritually and mentally – you cannot take care of anyone else. You will have nothing inside of you to give. No reserves. No extra. No overflowing cup. No matter how much you want to, it can’t happen without tearing off pieces of your own basic self to give away.
    You can’t be everything to everyone. You need to be something to yourself. You need to be your #1 priority!
    I’m sure your husband, parish priest and school administrator would be completely on board if you told them how you have been feeling, and asked to take a little time off from some of your responsibilities.
    If your husband wouldn’t be interested in preparing less rich meals, then you can take smaller portions.
    If your school administrator won’t at least temporarily lessen your load, don’t volunteer to take any more on for a while. That includes activities for the kids. You won’t be much good to them if you don’t stop your spiral now.
    If your parish priest can’t find someone to substitute for you for a while doing what you do for the church, ask him to pray for a volunteer to take over or at least assist you.

    Maybe you don’t want of need advice. Maybe you just need to vent and sort things out. In any case, I wanted you to know you are not traveling this road alone. I am here, too. I’ve been on it since before you were born. You will get through this.
    Better days ahead, I promise.


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