My teenage years and my first three years of uni would be a prequel to this part of my story, which is begining in May 2012 - when I was diagnosed with depression, a few weeks before a repeat placement - I studied Social Work. I had a break down during this placement. I took a break from University, spent three months job searching. Ironically, the very last job application I filled out, and the only one I did not write anything in the "please add anything here to sell yourself" box turned out to be the only employer who I got an interview and job for. So I worked till mid-late Jan, before returning to Uni.
In Feb, I returned to Uni, thinking I was fresh enough and well enough. Turns out, I wasn't. But it also turned out that I was going through a learning process. Way back in 2007 I decided I wanted to be a Social Worker. I had a love of supporting people, and wanted to do that better and as a professional. That thought process was naive. I learn this five years later when failing my final placement, my final chance to prove myself. I failed what was techincally my third fourth year placement with flying colours - I wasn't doing anything dangerous, just didn't understand what I was supposed to be doing and how to do it by the halfway mark (6 weeks), and with no sign of improvement. hmmmmm.
So this in June I graduated with a BA, having completed three years of the Social Work degree programme. Much soul searching and thinking that there's nothing I'm good at, and I've gotten a job. I'm a casual early year worker. And. I LOVE my job. I DID enjoy Social Work; the meeting service users, assessing their needs, making referrals and liasing with other professionals. but I now realise I only enjoyed it - and what a difference between loving and liking something makes to, well, everything. This is something I love. Children are hilarious and adorable. Yes, it is demanding and tiring. Some children can try your patience; I'm taken out my comfort zone when trying to form a relationship with a 4 year old girl who is wary of me as a man (attachment difficulties with males?), or how to resolve spats between young children who seem to have their own language! I've learnt that I CAN and DO have a teacher voice which make children listen to me. It's frustrating to have to fill out accident forms. But I've found something that I can do, and love. There's no thinking I can do it (as there was with Social Work) - I know I can.
I'm still in recovery, and I probably will be for the rest of my life. But I've learnt something over the last few years:
Your mental health is the most important thing. Of course it's important to earn money to be able to survive, but look at other ways you can do so. I'm very lucky and don't actually need to be earning - my wife earns enough to support us both, but I think my mental health has improved quite a bit since starting this job. And if you're mental health isn't there you can't support your family fully! I hate being low for the simple reason that on those days I haven't been able to support my wife in her work, as she'll need to make the bed, do the dishes, make dinner...
Find something you LOVE doing. On days when I'm really really low, the only thing that I will do is make dinner for my wife and I. I'll let myself go hungry but I couldn't let her go hungry! I really enjoy finding new recipes, but even if it's something basic, my desire to look after her will take over anything I'm feeling and I'll feel better for having been productive.
Do something. Anything. My wife and I have a little dispute (ongoing). We do the dishes after dinner and leave them to drip dry. When she has time, my wife puts them away in the morning. I don't like her doing this. Normally I would put them away right after she's gone. But when I'm at home most/all day, and am low, I will eventually remember the dishes. It's a small, easy, doable, and practical task with a definitive sense of achievement - it will often get the ball rolling for the rest of the day.
Try to get family and friends to understand that you can infact be there for them even if you're feeling low. When we were going out my wife would ask "how can you love someone else when you can't love yourself?" That sounds true, but it's not. We've learned that one thing that helps me is for her to tell me how crap her day has been - before I tell her about my day. Often when I'm depressed I've been doing far too much introspection, and by listening to my wife
I'm brought out of myself.