When you don't post for eight months, it's hard to know where to start. As Inigo Montoya says "Let me 'splain... no, there is too much... let me sum up."
I spent most of the summer writing my monograph and teaching the few students that stayed with me through the summer. I had big plans for my music studio in the fall. There were several spreadsheets and diagrams and timelines. But then I got a last-minute job at Dalhousie. At first, I was very excited to get the job. Then I had some struggles with housing involving a month of couch-surfing and then finding an apartment which was a lemon, to put it mildly.
The job has good parts and bad. I feel overwhelmed pretty much all the time, I feel incompetent, I feel very tired. The students were mostly wonderful. Their sweet attitudes and hilarious jokes and quirks made my day. Watching them learn about life and music is magical. My colleagues are lovely people. They support me and are very patient with my fumbling ways. The institution is frustrating and bureaucratic and does not serve students the way it ought to. It makes me upset and I do my best to start change. It turns out I do not know what is appropriate music for undergraduate choirs to learn. Sometimes I forget what learning music was like that far back. I'm figuring it out, though. I love teaching aural skills beyond words.
I kept working on the monograph, impatiently waited for feedback, and finally, glorious submitted it on December 21st. This means I can schedule a public lecture + defense for the winter term and be finished finished finished forever and ever and finally be Dr. Turpin. I am suspicious that something will come up, it doesn't feel real. So I don't really feel excited about the prospect of graduation and probably won't until after the defense is over and everyone on earth has to call me Dr. Turpin. Forever.
I dated a person, and I love them very much. But we had to break up for reasons which had nothing to do with me. And I was very proud of how I acted in the relationship. I did things I didn't think I could do. I didn't panic. I communicated. I tried to love to the best of my ability. It was a big step forward for me in a lot of ways. But ending the romantic aspect of that relationship was hard. I'm still getting over it. And even though I know I will feel better, and I know that it's okay to feel sad when sad things happen, it still sucks.
But you know, once you get divorced after ten years and your entire adult life of marriage, breakups really do not seem that big a deal. No matter how much they hurt, they don't hurt like divorce.
All this stress and struggle has put me in the worst depressive episode I've had since going on medication two years ago. Getting out of bed has been difficult. One day I had to cancel classes because I just couldn't leave my house. If you don't have a mental illness, I don't know how to tell you how much I wanted to do things. I had to reschedule a midterm, for god's sake, so there was motivation to go to work that day. But my brain and body would not let me. It's incredibly frustrating and sad and humbling and embarrassing. I told my students I was having a bad mental health day because I want them to know their professors struggle, too.
I went to my first cello lesson a few days before Christmas. Learning to play the cello has been a sort of pipe-dream thing I've had for many years. You know, something I'd do when I was retired (lol, as if). But then I found a used cello at a music store, and the rest is history. I was so excited for my first lesson I arrived 20mins early. The whole lesson, I was absorbed in what I was doing, and I felt so happy to be there. I can't help laughing when I play horrifically out of tune. Learning this beautiful instrument brings me so much joy. My goal is to get good enough to play in a community orchestra.
On my walk home (in the pouring rain) I felt light, I felt happy, and I felt refreshed. And that feeling - the strangeness of it, as though I hadn't felt that way for a long time - made me realize how much effort everything in my life is taking. It takes so much effort to get out of bed. To go to work. To take the dog for a walk. Even when reading for pleasure I have to tell myself "Now now, it's time to do something fun. You really like this book, remember? So let's read. Come on." and I force myself to crack it open. Lately, that element of effort has permeated my life so deeply that I didn't even notice it anymore. Because if I don't force myself to do things I will not do anything. If I wait until I want to do something, or until I have the energy to do something, I will sit quietly in my bed, staring at nothing, waiting. And that is very frightening to me because I can't support myself and make a better life for my dog if I can't get out of bed in the morning. So I keep pushing because I have to. And then it starts to seem normal.
That cello lesson made me realize just how easy things are supposed to be (mostly).
It's kind of kicked me into a problem-solving mode. I know that a large part of this depressive episode is circumstantial. It's hard to feel okay when your housing is uncertain, when you feel incompetent at your job, when students make you cry on your way home, when students cry in your office and entrust you with their deeply-held sadnesses that you hold for them but cannot fix. Plus the whole global pandemic thing. You know, that. Casually. So I'm moving out of my crap apartment. I'm very lucky to have family who can house me for #cheap while I figure out what the heck is going on with work contract renewals and an insane rental market. I'm planning for the future as best I can. I booked a therapy appointment. I booked an appointment with a business coach to help me relaunch my voice studio. I'm remembering that depression doesn't last forever; this will pass. I'm looking for ways I can feel good. I'm letting myself do less because we are in the midst of a fucking pandemic and it's okay to do less, even two years later. I'm remembering gratitude for the many people who love me and care for me and whom I love and care for. I'm very lucky to have them <3 That's me. How are you?