I really thought that I could switch the light on through sheer will and determination. Actually, I thought of it more like I was on a dimmer. If I tried hard enough, I could turn that knob brighter and brighter. I could nudge it an itty bitty bit every day and that could keep me going forward. I have a need to see some kind of progress in my life. I have to at least think things will get better.
I’m not a dimmer. I’m a light switch. Hell, I’m that middle light switch that no one can figure out what it does. I can’t switch myself out of this depression, and I’m losing the ability to fake it. I’ve missed about two days a week out of work this past month. When I call in sick and organize for a substitute to cover my classes, there is a pull down menu of reasons. I click the “sick leave” category, but I really want an option for “can’t do today.”
In my delusional effort to turn that fucking dimmer, I have overextended myself. I promised myself I wouldn’t lie. When people ask me why I’m not at work, I tell them. I now have people coming to me with questions. Adults and students who are having mental health issues and coming to me as if I have my shit together. At first I thought I was saving the world, but this problem is so much bigger than even a sane person could handle. The 22nd kid came to me on Friday. I need to stop keeping count. He showed me his cuts. That’s all he had to do. We sat down. I told him he was brave and thanked him for trusting me. Our school is lucky enough to have a doctor’s office on site. I reassured him that he was going to be fine. He is unwell and not the deviant he thought he was. I then promptly delivered him to the health center. I was able to use the words he didn’t know to tell the doctor what was going on. A bell rang and I went and taught test taking skills to my juniors. Number 21 doesn’t see a point to any of it and is struggling to survive through each day. I’ve known number 20 for a few years and a once vibrant young lady is a greasy unshowered mess who can barely get out of bed. Numbers 17-19 are also cutters. Numbers 6-16 are severely depressed. Number 5 is way out of my league, I’m thinking schizophrenic. 4 is bi-polar. 1-3 are depressed. They all had different needs and were each hurting so much. I am so thankful we have a doctor and psychologist available in the high school for these kids.
I’m at an impasse. I’m not getting better. I’m becoming more unwell. It doesn’t matter how hard I try, I am not a reliable support system for these kids. I’m not a reliable support system for myself.
I’ve gotta figure out what that middle light switch does.