If you're reading this, THANK YOU for sticking by my side as we jump into a new year!
To make sure we're all on the same page, let me give just a quick review. My last post was actually a contribution from my wife, Sarah. Though this is my story I'm sharing, I'm not the only one involved. I want to reach people who can directly relate, but if my goal is to help rid of the stigma surrounding mental illness, then my job is to include everyone in my story because we each have our own struggle. This is why I asked my wife to write and speak to those of you who may not suffer from a mental illness, but instead, support someone who does. I shared my love story and how much Sarah means to me. She then did the same. We have different ways of expressing that love, especially when it pertains to navigating my mental illness. I hope that you recognize how strong our love is and that you are able to further define what love truly is.
I now continue telling my story. ***If you are just joining me, or if you forget where you are in my story, please take a moment to go back and read a few posts. It makes more sense if your thoughts are organized***
So...on we go...
You already know that I lost my job at the University of Notre Dame once the department was eliminated. It was a strange feeling. I felt like I had no purpose anymore and no clue what the heck I was going to do. My career goals had always been centered around teaching, specifically health & physical education. My position at Notre Dame was very unique in my mind. Not many universities have a physical education requirement for students anymore. On top of that, a Ph.D was not required. My Masters Degree was just right for the job back in 2009 when I got hired. Basically I lost my dream job and thought I'd never find anything like it ever again.
I struggled during my time at Notre Dame--I think we all know that now. My depression got the best of me numerous times, but I had great moments too. I loved teaching! I still do. I had the best students at Notre Dame--kind, compassionate, inspirational, and always willing to go above and beyond. Toward the end of my career there in May of 2015, I obtained a new friend, Anxiety.
Between 2015 and 2017 I did some summer part-time work and then spent six months as a fitness coordinator in a job that I needed financially, but that totally wasn’t for me. I wasn’t for it either. I hated waking up every day going to that job. My anxiety got worse. I started thinking that my degree, my experience, and ultimately my passion for fitness, didn't matter anymore. I wasn't connecting with co-workers. I felt useless. I wasn't enjoying myself. Financially I needed the job, but it could only trump my health for so long.
I was already slowly withdrawing myself from social situations. I was embarrassed that I no longer worked at Notre Dame because I felt like nothing else would compare. I stayed at home a lot in my own little world. I still did things outside of the house, but those fun times became few. I limited my interactions and created my own idea of "getting out of the house".
I wasn’t as depressed as I had been in the past, but it was still there. It came and went. I’ll tell ya though, the anxiety was a new beast. I thought depression was awful. WHY ME? The reality is that you cannot compare the two. Depression can be horrifying, anxiety mild. Anxiety can be horrifying, depression mild. They both can be horrifying, all the time, some times...lots of combinations to choose from. I just wasn't ready to battle both of them.
After almost two years of feeling worthless and being unemployed, I hit the jackpot! At least it felt that way in the moment. In fact, when I got the call from NC State University, Sarah and I jumped for joy in our front yard back in South Bend, IN. Our dear friends saw us from across the street and already knew I had interviewed. They came out to congratulate us. They knew I was looking for another teaching position and the struggle I was having. This also meant we would be packing our things and relocating to North Carolina. It felt great to know I was capable of landing another job in higher education. I was proud of myself and happy that we would be closer to Sarah’s family.
Unfortunately, things didn't pan out like we thought they would.
Stay tuned for next week's post as my anxiety takes over and leaves depression in the dust.
I wish only the best for you in 2019: kindness, compassion, hope, inspiration, confidence, success, and love. Thank you for your support.
I just want all people to learn and grow together.