There are two sides of 2017 for me – before the anti-depressants and after the anti-depressants. That cleaving of the year in two roughly coincides with my son breaking his arm this year, twice, the second time right in front of me. That moment of me, doubled over, hysterically sobbing on the pool deck in front of everyone, is the moment the year broke, the moment that broke me. I wish I hadn’t had to wait months and months to see the doctor to get prescribed the medication I so clearly needed.
2017 turned into the year that I was going to talk a lot more about mental health. So I started a tinyletter to do just that. There aren’t too many posts there, but I wanted a more intimate space to just share what’s going on with my family as we work our way through this. I’ll say this here: I’m still getting used to living without the exhaustion that comes with depression and anxiety, using so much mental energy on keeping the excessively negative and destructive thoughts at bay. What can I do with that freed up mental space and physical capacity? I’m still trying to figure it out.
Last year, I was so devastated by the loss of some of my pop-culture heroes, I didn’t take the time to look back and reflect on what I had accomplished (which included the publication of my first and probably only academic book). And, you know, actually depressed. And still coming to terms with no longer being an academic. If anything, seeing my book published put a period on my academic career. I had spent so long chasing the next thing, hustling to get out of where I was, I never really gave myself the space to mourn.
It’s a process I’m not ready to talk about yet. Or rather, that I can’t quite articulate in the right way.
But I keep writing. I write here, on this blog, and I write for my job. I have one last academic article coming out soon that I finally finished this year. They are old words, two talks actually, brought together in one place, and I’m glad they finally found a home. Speaking of talking, I am literally finding my voice again. We started a podcast, Closing Tabs, I was on TV, and I was interviewed by WIHE.
I also created a new initiative at my job – Digital Assignment Student Beta-Testers. And, I have gotten more involved in the social media life on our institution, which is a lot of fun. When I was looking to get off the contingent track, I had two options I was exploring: faculty development or institutional PR. Looks like I struck gold and get to do some of both!
In a lot of ways, this looking back has largely focused on the latter half of the year. Maybe I’m not ready to think about all the things I did (or rather didn’t) do in the first half. It’s marked by visit after visit to various doctors and too much crying in public and various levels of despair. I’d be remiss not to mention the support I received from my family, my co-workers, and my large circle of social media friends (aka friends).
I turned 40 this year, too. I got to have dinner in Montreal for my birthday with two of my best and oldest friends. I also got to go to Toronto during the spring for a girl’s weekend with three other of my oldest friends. I told all of them that back when we were young, I never thought I would make it to 40. I couldn’t see myself surviving, I couldn’t visualize what my life could be, would look like.
It’s a hard feeling to explain, the strangeness of being an age you never thought you would see. It’s not that I thought I would die, although I guess one way to think about it was that I couldn’t picture myself wanting to live until I was 40. I honestly thought that whatever it was that I couldn’t describe when I was younger, the thing that scared me, the thing that increasingly made me feel different and apart from my friends, the thing that alienated me from my family, I thought it would win.
Maybe I thought that while I may have lived to see 40, that no one else would be around me to see it with me.
I celebrated my 40th birthday surrounded by people I love and who love me. It’s what I want to remember the most about this year.