There are many injustices in the world. Some are simple insults that weaken your faith in humanity and others are impossibly painful struggles that bring you to your knees with rage and sadness. When I let myself ruminate too much on the subjects of animal abuse, child maltreatment or sexual assault, I lose a piece of myself to the bitterness and fear that goes along with those thoughts. I know I am an empathetic person, which is better than being a cynic, but it’s painful to feel deeply for those in need who I simply cannot help.
Then there are the small cruelties of biology that destroy me regularly. These are how I know there is no God. I have never fully believed in the existence of God, but seeing and feeling those frailties of our bodies confirms that lack for me. What sort of God would create people who must suffer the whims of their bodies? Why give us conscious thought just so we can think about how we’re falling apart? Why give us emotions that can crush us when we dwell in our misery?
Until about two years ago, for as long as I can remember before that, I was depressed. As a child that depression manifested itself as insomnia and anxiety. I was the kid who was mocked by her classmates and made to feel excluded from “normal” childhood activities. I would run home from school crying and lived in a fantasy world where I imagined my life if I had just been born prettier/thinner/better. By the time I was thirteen I had managed to distance myself from the kids who made me feel bad and found real friends who accepted me for me, one of whom is still my closest friend. I loved high school and had plenty of good friends, but there was always this niggling in the back of my mind that told me something was off. It wasn’t until I attempted to go away to college and had to turn tail and run home after only a week that I knew for sure something was wrong with me. But I didn’t do anything.
Within a year I developed an eating disorder and descended into a depression that wouldn’t be accurately diagnosed and treated for several more years. With all the functional ups and downs of major depression, I navigated my way through culinary school, living on my own, dating, and working. Once I actually got help and started my pharmaceutical journey through antidepressants and mood stabilizers, I was pretty adept at managing my emotions and faking normal. Those I trusted knew what was going on, but for most people, they had no idea there was a problem until they saw me on the tipping point. And no one knew what to do then.
After moving across the country and not feeling overwhelmed by everything, I decided to quit taking the meds I had faithfully relied upon for years and see if I tipped again or could, miracle of miracles, manage on my own. Amazingly, I managed. Then I got pregnant and had my daughter and was happier than I’ve ever been. Then I started nursing school and was introduced to not only the most challenging and stressful coursework I’ve ever had, but also saddled with the worst teacher I have ever encountered–and I’ve had more teachers than most people can imagine. The workload I can handle; horrible teachers who make me feel terrible about myself, I might just lose it again. And, well, I have.
I’ve been depressed again and uncertain how to deal with it other than to just push it aside and keep moving forward. The semester ends next week and I will unfortunately have to deal with this teacher for the rest of my program unless something major happens, which is unlikely. So what do I do? The stress of her attitude and the actual work I’m doing has caused my breastmilk supply to drop dramatically and we’ve been supplementing for a couple months now. That decision was crushing and stirred a lot of rage and sadness in me. Add that onto the inherent depression I’ve been feeling and I’ve got a maelstrom of indecision and dread spinning around me. Not good, not fair, not acceptable.
So, I get up every day and feel as much joy as I can from my daughter, my dog, my husband, dreams of finishing school and being a nurse, dreams of moving away and living someplace I love, dreams of being happy in all parts of my life. I push all the sadness, all the anger, all the disappointment, regret, and fear aside. I focus on what I can control, try to forget what has happened that brings me down, and move forward. I trust that if I keep doing this, if I keep fighting, if I keep moving, I will eventually be through to the other side with no regrets. What else can I do?