I have to admit, I did not intent to take a three-month break from posting (aside from the two major big events like visiting Clonehenge and V.).
The thing is, December and January really didn’t go very well for me. In short, I did not pass the oral part of the breadth exam even though I passed the written with flying colors. It did take some of the wind out of my sails and made a lot of the insecurities I have in regards to my academic work bubble to the surface of my consciousness. Then I spent several weeks with my family: the first holiday season I’d spent with them since moving to Oregon, in fact. It made me realize just how much I miss being with them and how much I miss being able to actually BE with them when I’m physically with them.
The thing about what I do at the University is that it is basically all I do. I feel guilty when I’m not trying to cram more reading in or fine-tuning a lesson plan that I had to procrastinate on because I needed to finish a book for my own studies. It’s sort of like having a 100-hour work week. And when you don’t do the 100 hours, you fall behind really, really quickly.
So I got stressed and despondent. By the time New Year’s had rolled around, I’d pretty much decided that I’d leave the program. Just before the beginning of the term, though, I realized that I was going through a pretty epic bout of depression. Instead of fully leaving, I decided to go on leave just in case I’d be full of regret once I got through the depression. So I filed for a year’s leave of absence.
Unfortunately, that meant I had to give up my teaching contract…so I became jobless. And that didn’t exactly help the depression. If anything, it fueled it. January and February were spent in a total haze. Looking back, I’m not really sure what I even did to fill the hours back then.
I started to snap out of it sometime around the end of February, and now that it’s the end of March, I do feel much, much better. I’m not back to 100%, but I think I’m far more capable of rational, long term decisions. And I definitely have the energy and mental and emotional strength to get the important stuff done. Things like really working to find a new job and to do things that make me happy.
I still don’t know if I’ll return to my program soon. Right now I’m leaning to leaving. I don’t think I have the motivation to write a dissertation anymore, and I’m no longer convinced my dissertation topic would have been all that applicable to anything anyway. And I think I would be happy not being a doctor of something. I did learn that I actually like teaching and think it to be quite fun, so I’m playing with the idea of becoming a high school teacher. The hours certainly would be conducive to having a family, and having the summers more open to managing a garden is very attractive to me. I suppose we will see what I decide upon.
At any rate, it’s good to be back.