I’ve been living with depression in 1999. It was a huge relief because now I knew I wasn’t going crazy.
When I heard Chester Bennington passed away last month, I was heartbroken. Bennington shared his experience living with depression. Yet, he lost his fight. He was only 41 years old. It feels as if I keep hearing about people dying before they turn 50. Scary. I turned 49 years old this year. Anyone with depression knows it’s a daily struggle. In fact, it can be debilitating.
Living: Sharing My Story
I’ve been living with depression in 1999. It was a huge relief when I was diagnosed because now I knew I wasn’t going crazy. One morning I just didn’t have the energy to go to work. A fellow coworker and my school nurse convinced me to get help. Since that time, I have survived with the help of medication and counseling.
I take depression medication daily. It helps me to have clarity and to recognize what triggers my low moods. The counseling or talk therapy I’ve had over the years provides me with the tools to set boundaries and to work through those episodes. I depend on both for my survival especially this summer. I have major depression. This is a lifetime diagnosis due to relapses and family history on my mom’s side. When you live with depression, you learn to set limitations and boundaries with family members to protect your mental health. If I can have my mood and my motivation in sync, then it’s a good day. It’s when they aren’t in sync that it becomes a daily struggle.
Living and Coping: This Summer
I’m one of two Black veteran teachers at my level. It hasn’t been easy. However, thanks to Drumpf, I experienced situations this year that my teacher colleagues with close to my credentials did not experience.
Since June 26th, I’ve been struggling with a depressive episode. (Fortunately, I have the guidance and support of my psychiatrist.) It was triggered by an extremely stressful school year. My reality: after 24 years, I still have to fight to be treated with professional respect. I will be at my third elementary school. This isn’t due to lack of a position at my previous schools. I’ve moved because I needed to put myself in a more professionally safe environment. I’m one of two Black veteran teachers at my level. It hasn’t been easy. However, thanks to Drumpf, I experienced situations this year that my White teacher colleagues with close to my credentials did not experience. My seniority should’ve allowed me to stay. My experience teaching grades 2-5 should’ve counted. Yet, it didn’t. That sucks!
It’s ok and it’s the summer vacation I’m supposed to have at this point.
I’m tired. I was tired in January. I was tired in May. I was beyond tired on June 26th. As of this week, I am still tired. People ask me if I’m having a good summer vacation, I tell them, “It’s ok, and it’s the summer vacation I’m supposed to have at this point.” There were no trips to New York City. I did not go jet-skiing on the Hudson River this year or drive an exotic car around a race track. I looked forward those were the activities to last summer. Not this summer…
Living and Accepting
Instead, I am dealing with my latest depressive episode. I still get out and do activities with a group of wonderful Black women. My group understands what it’s like to be the “only Black woman at work.” They know what it feels like to have your credentials dismissed, yet be expected to perform at 200%. (There’s an entire Twitter Feed devoted to this issue: BreakfastClubBoycott).
Two weeks ago, I accepted the fact that I won’t accomplish all of the items on my goal list. Each day it’s taken all of my strength to participate in daily life. I’ve tried to keep my daily schedule and exercise occasionally. However, I realize that to move past this episode, I have to embrace it completely.
So, if you are living with depression, please understand that you are not alone. Take the time you need to heal. It will be worth it in the end.