So yesterday I wrote So I Got Married…And Then I Got Depressed (Part One). This is the second half to that story. I’ll begin where I left off. If you need context, read the first part! Here goes part two…
My husband and parents told me to quit the bookstore gig after my gigantic mental breakdown. I was still upset, but happy because of how supportive both Jeff and my parents were. I didn’t think Jeff would be okay with me not having a job right at the beginning of our marriage. We are both still university students. We have bills. But he put my health first, and literally did everything in his power to make this easier for me.
So the next day, I quit work. Sort of. I went up to my manager and told her the situation. I was still extremely fragile from the previous day. I was exhausted. I was panicky. I was even a little light-headed. She sent me home, and told me that if I wanted to stay, I could. If I wanted a few more days to think about it, I could. And because in some sense I still thought this was the perfect job for me, I told her I would return the following week, work a few days, and reassess the situation.
Fast forward. The next week rolls around. I returned to work the day before this one, and it seemed to go okay. I flipped back and forth between wanting to cut down my hours and just outright quitting. I actually had fun during my last shift. But as the day progressed, the sense of dread hung over me once again. For some reason, I felt that same sense of panic that occurred during the day we went to the Mandarin.
Now, Jeff is at work, it’s about 1:00 in the afternoon, and I start in two hours. My dad knew how much I’d been struggling, so he offered to drive me to work that day. I try to hold it together for the next hour and a half. Ring. Ring. My dad stands at the door. The second I answer it, I fall apart. I hug my dad and sob into his shoulders, drenching his shirt with my tears. He’s clearly confused. I drop to the floor and assume the fetal position. At first, I can tell he’s annoyed. But soon, that annoyance turns into concern.
I’m still not really sure what happened that day. I can barely remember it. I wish I could give you guys an explanation of WHY I felt like that. Like, “Oh looking back, I realize I had this breakdown because of ______.” But I can’t give you that. I still don’t understand it. But it happened. And I have never in my life experienced such a moment of depression/anxiety/fear/whatever the heck that was. I could not function. I could barely breath. I couldn’t form coherent sentences. I literally felt like my world was ending. I lay down on the floor and hyperventilated and cried and hoped for the house to collapse on top of me. And so my dad did what he knew he had to do. He called my mom.
Ha. No, but really, he did. Which was cool, because I wanted both my parents there even though I was pretty out of it. So then my mom does what she knew she had to do. She called into my workplace for me, and quit on my behalf. No, it wasn’t an official quitting, I still had to bring in my letter of resignation, but she let my manager know the extent of what was going on and that due to my mental health I would be unable to work from then on. A few days later, I actually quit. And that was it. It was over. And I felt so much better. Still, I can’t tell you why. I wish I knew.
During this time, I was seeing a counsellor, in case anyone is curious. Jeff and I saw a counsellor together and although it didn’t necessarily help in the moment, I’m always a supporter of seeking help and I just want you guys to know that I was being proactive!
After I quit, I had a new problem. What was I going to do for the rest of the summer?! That stressed me out too. The thought of being unproductive for two and a half months was almost as terrifying as going into work. One day when I was feeling particularly stressed (though it was nothing compared to what I described above) I went into work with Jeff. He and his co-workers were preparing for the month long day camp that’s run out of the church. One thing led to another, and I ended up getting roped into being a day camp leader for grade 3/4 girls.
Now, at first, I was like…OH MY GOODNESS HOW AM I GOING TO HANDLE THIS FOR A WHOLE MONTH? I KNOW I WANTED SOMETHING TO DO BUT THIS IS 9 HOUR DAYS WITH KIDS AND I CAN BARELY TAKE CARE OF MYSELF RIGHT NOW AND I WASN’T PREPARED AND WHAT AM I EVEN DOING WHY DID I SAY YES?!
But then I took a deep breath and realized that I have always had a passion for serving, especially with children’s ministry. They had a serious need that had to be filled (they couldn’t find anyone to be a senior leader for the grade 3/4 girls and time was running out) and I was qualified for the position. And then I was like, Jeff is working here right now and as his wife, I feel like I should be as involved as possible too. So I didn’t back out (even though the night before camp started I totally wanted to)
Two weeks later, camp began. I was nervous the first day…for approximately the first five minutes. And then I fell absolutely in love. I forgot how amazing it was working with kids. I forgot how much I loved working in a church environment. I forgot how spiritually fulfilling serving was. And over the course of the next four weeks, my anxiety and depression vanished. Jeff and I were instantly included into the wonderful, Godly, accepting church community, and I felt at home and at peace.
Camp ended two weeks ago, and I’m still doing some volunteer work with the church. Jeff will be working here for the next year, and I will volunteering with Sunday School and Youth Group.
I still don’t know why I was so stressed and anxious about my “dream job.” I will probably never figure it out. But I do know this. If I had never freaked out about it, I would have never quit. And if I never quit, I would have never volunteered at day camp. If I never volunteered at day camp, I know I would never have….
1. Made a ton of new friends with the other leaders and connections with parents and those who work at the church
2. Grown spiritually in the same way I did serving at camp
3. Helped Jeff make important connections and establish ourselves as a married couple in a brand new church environment
4. Come out of my shell a bit more and do tons of things I didn’t think I would be comfortable with (i.e. speaking in front of large groups of kids/leaders, teaching a writing skills class for a week, leading small group)
5. Realize that I am not nearly as shy as I thought and can actually be a pretty good public speaker and leader
6. Had the opportunity to watch my relationship with Jeff grow in a certain way as we worked side by side as leaders at camp
I’m not saying that the anxiety I felt was for this reason. I mean, it could have been, but I don’t know. What I DO know is that something truly amazing DID come out of those horrendous few weeks in my life. At the time, I obviously had no idea what was going to happen during the summer. But now, I’m so glad that whole incident happened. If it hadn’t, I know I would not have grown as much as I had during the past month and a half. And yeah, in case you’re wondering, I’m doing much better now. Much better.