Balancing Life with Depression: the Ups and Downs

Well, it’s been a couple of months since my last depressive episode, and I’ve been feeling absolutely amazing!

Last week was Spring Break, and if I were depressed, the week would’ve consisted of days flying by, consumed with napping, eating, sleeping, and repeating.

However, for the first time in many years, I actually had the energy to GO DO SOMETHING EVERY DAY without the need to take a nap! I even visited with two different friends in one day…meeting one for lunch, the other for dinner. WHO is THIS girl???

Fast forward to today, and I’m back in my room with my kids. It was one of those glorious days I remember having with my students BBC (before breast cancer, 5 years ago this month). Today, I was able to hold their attention, get them to share without fear, and interact harmoniously as we navigated the basics of budgeting.

These are the precious moments of teaching that I’ve been missing…that anxiety, depression, chemo brain and PTSD stole from me for the past several years. I’ve been paralyzed, and doing my best to just show up for so long that I’d forgotten the beauty of a classroom that runs like a well-oiled machine, one that I have facilitated into a safe and encouraging environment where learning takes place organically.

Because I’m feeling so well today, and have been for a while, it’s quite difficult to remember the darkness of so many previous days. For so long after going through surgery and treatment, it took every last bit of energy for me to make it to work, much less, make it through the day, without stopping to rest before then make the drive home, only to finally collapse from pure exhaustion.

I feel so optimistic and hopeful right now, that a huge part of me wants to believe that I will never experience those feelings of incompetence, sadness and emptiness again. But, based upon the pattern of the past few years (discovered by a couple of years of counseling), another episode that typically lasts several weeks is looming around the corner, possibly coinciding with my upcoming reconstruction surgery.

So, the eternal optimist in me wants to go with my current state of mind, decide that I’ll soldier through it, and maintain my current state of peace. But, the realist knows that I should soak in the good days just as I am every bit of the returning Spring sunshine, and brace for what’s ahead.

How does one who looks for the the positives in every situation force the mind to expect the worst?

I can only pray for continued clarity, strength, and direction through this mind-boggling maze. Here’s hoping that at the very least, it’s somewhat peaceful ahead.

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