Having a depressive episode isn’t the same as being sad. I’m not sad, but I’m on week 20 of an episode that included a stay in the psych ward, another change in meds, missed work, and a strain on my family. These things make me sad, not the depression. I am disengaged, numb, unfocused, unmotivated, and I’ve lost the ability to find joy in anything. I am one hell of a good time! I know that these are all just the side effects of the daily pills I take to keep from feeling the full experience of this episode (Prozac, Wellbutrin, Xanax, and Adderral). I know that this me is way better than the full-blown, lights out, under the covers, sobbing, inconsolable, desperate, anxious, and scared me. I know she is lurking right there under the surface, but I just have to wait that bitch out. 20 weeks is a long time not to be me, so I know it can’t last much longer. The clouds will lift soon.
Let me tell you where the best place for a zombie like me is. I’m a teacher. I love my job. Imagine creating your own environment and being able to talk about the things that you are passionate about. A good temporary cure from being a zombie is having 30 teenagers sitting in front of you, three times a day.
I can’t help but wake up from my daze and get engaged. It isn’t always ideal. The noise of a rowdy classroom or a confrontation with a student/parent/principal can trigger an anxiety attack. Sometimes, even the normal hum of the kids chatting can set me off. If I do say so myself, out of necessity, I have become a wiz at keeping a classroom under control and in a good mood. Well, as much of a good mood as hormonal 16-year-old kids can be.
And the structure is delicious. We all know that it is important that students have structure, but for someone with ADHD and a mind that spins a million miles a minute, structure is awesome. I literally have bells that tell me when to do stuff! In the rest of my life, my illness is destructive and exhausting. But guess what? ADHD can be an absolute asset in my job. There will be no hour-long lectures from me.
When it is good, I am constantly changing up the flow of the lesson. When it is good, I know that if I’m getting bored, then the kids must be too. When it is good, I am a dynamic teaching machine. Besides, half of the class has ADHD as well. I always feel bad for those poor Type A students in my class. They have a harder time getting on the crazy train with the rest of us.
When it is bad, I can get sidetracked and some class time is spend discussing the latest Dr. Who episode and not The Great Gatsby. When it is bad, it is physically painful to sit and grade papers. When it is bad, hall duty, meetings, and lesson plans are a mad last-minute panic or completely forgotten.
When it is at its worst, my depression, anxiety, and ADHD can steal the compassion, patience, intelligence, and understanding that are for my students.
Today was a good day.