It was so hard to leave South Bend, Indiana. So hard. It was scary. It was scary to just pick up our lives and feel as if we were letting something good get away.
We ended up buying a house in Knightdale, NC. We looked at the house thanks to FaceTime and Sarah’s parents. They were instrumental in this process. When they found the one we wanted we said yes and on went the purchase.
We shuffled around a bit until we could actually move into our house, but we got there. Sarah’s parents looked after the dogs for us, which was a huge blessing. A co-worker of mine at the time from NC State was very generous to us and allowed us to stay with her for a few weeks until we could move into our house. We both were starting new jobs the same week. Everything was falling into place: we had a house and we had jobs.
In the middle of my first semester at NC State I began to curl into a ball. The world around me felt like it was crumbling down on top of me. I had feelings of doubt. I started to feel like I wasn’t capable of doing my job. I couldn’t get out of bed. I wasn’t eating or sleeping. WHAT IN THE HELL WAS HAPPENING TO ME?!!!!!!!!!!!
I knew that depression could come back into my life. I just never thought it would come back like it did in 2009. Nor did I think it would bring a friend (anxiety). I try to be positive about things and move forward. You accept the past and move on from it. I've learned now that my mental health is a priority. I mean, it should always be (for everyone I think), but for me it's a different priority. It is a part of me, and my job is to learn how to manage it. That's what I believe at this point in my life.
During the first year in North Carolina, I believe I was frequently misunderstood. Sarah could not fathom why I would ever want to miss work. Here we were starting a new journey and I was screwing it all up. We’ve talked about this in length and part of our understanding of mental illness as a couple has been her realization that she had no clue. She does now and has been the most supportive wife I could ever ask for. And it's not just about me--Sarah has a place in her heart for those who suffer. Mental illness was just a new addition. I love her for taking the time to learn about my mental health and for adapting to my needs. I know it's not easy. I have also tried my best at understanding her feelings and challenges through all of this.
Her parents gave me similar feelings about how they viewed my "situation". I don't necessarily like to speak for others, so I will say that I am not 100% sure this is how they felt, but I am 100% sure of how I felt. I believe that they still are unsure about what to think. And I want to make sure that I make a point of saying that, THAT'S OKAY! It has not been the best of times with them because of misunderstandings. I believe I've been misunderstood and that I've not understood them. Does that make sense? I'm re-reading this and my brain feels wacky. Ha.
I love them of course, with all my heart, but it saddens me that I wasn't able to reach them. I have felt like a complete failure to them. They were so excited when I got the job at NC State. I was even credited for bringing Sarah back home to them. I was happy. Really happy that Sarah would be back in North Carolina and that her family wouldn't be 800 miles away. I'm not sure I'll ever be able to convey to them what I was going through or what depression and anxiety truly feel like. I just know that I don't want others to have that same feeling.
My anxiety only worsened. I drove it into my head that I was worthless. It happened so quickly. I've wanted to be a teacher my entire life, and it took less than a month to make me believe otherwise. Nothing I had accomplished in my life mattered. I didn't care about our house, my job, this place, this state. I just wanted it all to go away. I wished to be back in South Bend. I wish for this, for that...
I was laying in bed for hours, for days. I wasn't sleeping. The scarier part is that it felt like I didn’t even need to--like I was born without a need to sleep. I couldn’t escape feeling that way. I couldn’t force myself to feel better.
Then one day I just broke down. I was in the shower. I remember staring at the wall and crying. Sarah heard me and came to check on me. She asked me if I was okay and I just shook my head and said, “I’m not okay. I’m not okay.” I was repeating myself, crying hysterically, and feeling hopeless. I remember how I felt, not how I was acting. I know that I felt like not breathing. I didn't want to see anything. I didn't want tomorrow to come. I wanted that feeling to go away. At the same time I was so scared of what I thought I might do. I didn't want to leave Sarah. The dogs. My family and friends. In that moment I just struggled with what mattered most. I know what matters most: LIFE MATTERS. But this is what I'm trying to tell you. Depression and Anxiety take over and life doesn't matter sometimes.
Sarah knew, in that moment, that I needed help. Professionally, it was beyond her control, but she did the right thing by taking me to the emergency room.
Back to that “falling into place” feeling. It's awesome! I can honestly say that I've always said everything happens for a reason. Things just fall into place, ya know?! This is one of those times however, where Falling Into Place walked in the door with a mask on. I wouldn't really believe that until later on.
Stay tuned next week for my first emergency room visit in North Carolina.
I just want all people to learn and grow together.