Sunday, July 17, 2011

"Must the Winter Come So Soon?"

This past winter was a tough one, but I got through it.

Now that I have come out of a semester-long depressive hibernation, I can look back and understand with more clarity what happened to me and how I was able to break through one of the longest, roughest episodes I have ever experienced.

In this post, I am going to try my best to write simplistically about a complicated topic. I realize I do not need to go back and rehash every little event, conversation, or argument that was intermingled within my overall experience. I will attempt to draw attention to the major events that outlined this most recent depression and how I was able to slowly push through it with the help of family and friends, medications, and a steady dose of cognitive behavioral therapy.

*        *        *

I remember feeling extraordinary for the few weeks that followed our September 2010 wedding. I now know this is the definition of the “honeymoon period.” After that, I admit I have trouble remembering a whole lot from the fall semester, which I now recognize as a sign in itself. Four months into our marriage, my husband and I had to make a tough decision. He was offered an interim position for the spring semester at a community college. We knew the teaching experience and the income would be great for him and for us, but the position was in the next state over, which meant we would have to live apart during the week. Together, we decided he should accept the job, and I settled in to my last two months of preparations for my final graduate organ recital.

The next two months were tough. I found out quickly that I did not favor long distance relationships. I felt alone and then ashamed for feeling dependent on my relationship for any sense of stability and contentment. I pushed through and tried to focus on my work in spite of my feelings of despair toward my marriage and toward my looming recital.

February 28, 2011. The recital day. A total of four years of graduate work put on display for one hour of just one evening. I felt the insurmountable pressure rising within me and I began to experience some serious nerves. My forehead dripped sweat, my breath shallow, and my hands shook uncontrollably. If I had ever had a surreal experience, this was it. It was like being outside of myself – like an observer. My body was seated on the organ bench just trying to make it to the end, but my mindful self was off to the side in a fog observing my every struggle and evaluating my every wrong move.

I do not know how I finished, but I did. It may have been what I consider to be some of the worst public playing I have ever done, but I got through it. Still, I was devastated. I felt the tears forming before I let up my final chord. I tried to hold back my emotions as audience members came through my receiving line. I do not remember anything that was said, only the people I saw that night. I just wanted to go home and lie down in a quiet room and rock myself into a long, deep sleep.

Four days later, my husband’s father passed away.
(to be continued…)