March 2004: Each day grew a little longer, while I just slept more and more. Just doing normal stuff around the house became a burden. And work became nearly impossible for me. After 24 years, a job I loved pressed down on me with a weight I could not bear. I visited my doctor who recommended I take a few days off. Those few days turned into weeks and then months. I just knew I couldnít go back. I didnít have the will to do it.
Even then, I longed for my cozy classroom with its rug in the reading corner, the bean bag chairs, treat jar and all those smiling ten-year old faces. I yearned for the companionship of my fellow teachers. I ached to feel useful again, but sleep was all my body would allow. Day and night became one as I hibernated. The clock on my nightstand ticked away the minutes as my life stood still. I felt trapped and was haunted by the fact that I had not been able to finish the school year. I isolated myself from everyone and everything. The phone went unanswered, laundry piled up and even my cats steered clear of me knowing something wasnít right.
As the days ran together, I slowly began to start writing again. It was a way to let out all those emotions that swirled within: anger, disappointment, longing, frustration, and despair. My Tuesday morning breakfast group knew something was wrong, but it took me several months to honestly explain what was happening. The odd thing about that is we are all part of a ministry of healing and wholeness at our church. I will never understand why I didnít turn to them right away. Maybe I can add shame to the feelings I was experiencing. They gathered around me like five mother hens clucking over a lost chick. They knew instinctively that I was lost in my depression.
December 2005: Now almost two years later, I can look back and see the devastation that depression wrought on my life that spring. I have accepted the fact that I had to retire earlier than planned. I realized that you can gain strength through weakness. I now look at the past twenty-one months as a time of growth and learning. I found more time to meditate, contemplate and pray. Thanks to compassionate doctors and the right medications, I am back on track. My period of grieving is complete. I have now accepted myself as I am, as God made me and intended me to be. And, believe it or not, I have thanked and praised Him for my season of despair.
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You wrote so eloquenly about your depression concerning leaving a job that you love. Teaching is a very strenuous, yet wonderful job. I think putting God first and letting him help you with doing your job is the only way to work. I and many teachers have depression when we lose sight of letting God take over and not us. Keep growing!!