Just as I thought I was done talking about disability, I remembered that I need to pay tribute to the disability that, in some ways, has been the biggest pain in my butt for many years. It was the one that kept me from going to grad school at a crucial time. It was the reason Social Security found me to be disabled enough that I could not work. It was the one that crops up just frequently enough to remind me that it thinks it’s in charge, not me. That PITA (pain in the you-know-what) is depression.
I’m the first one to tell you that I was a melancholy child. My favorite songs when I was 6 and 7 years old were “Seasons in the Sun” and “Billy, Don’t Be a Hero” and other, as I like to call them now, “songs to blow your brains out to.” (Yes, I just dated myself–I grew up with early and mid 1970’s music!) I never thought of myself as depressed. I just liked sad things more than it was probably natural to like them.
I don’t think anything like depression actually kicked in until I was in my senior year in high school. I remember I would just put my head down on my desk and cry without knowing why. I was seeing the psychology teacher in our high school for counseling of a sort, but it wasn’t anything official. I didn’t really think much about it.
When I went away to college, I struggled with subjects I wish I hadn’t been taking during my first semester. I wasn’t going to be a math or science major, so I didn’t really need calculus or biology that science majors had to take. I put so much energy in to trying to keep from failing that I didn’t do as well as I could in the other subjects, and depression crept in. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to come back to school for second semester, but I did. The work was easier, because I had used common sense about what I took that year and focused more on what I knew I could do well at. Again, I wound up talking to a psych teach for counseling; but nothing officially labeled “THERAPY.”
That semester ended more happily, and I did well through the rest of my college years. I knew I wanted to be a therapist, but of course, couldn’t get even an entry-level job in the field. I wound up going to a year and a half of seminary because I figured whatever I did, I wanted to have a Christian base for. But I was a round peg in a square hole. Or is it a square peg in a round hole? Anyway, it wasn’t a perfect fit for me. I did a semester of summer missions, then wound up in Savannah, Georgia working at the Savannah Baptist Center.
This is where things finally came into focus. I’ll talk more about my experience there at some point, but I finally realized social work put all the pieces together for me. I learned that there was a seminary that had a master of social work program–Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. I visited, fell in love with the city and the campus, and was accepted at the seminary in the spring of 1992.
I promise I’m not trying to drag things out–I’m just finding this is more emotionally draining that I expected. These are the years I wish more than anything I could do differently and the ones that I believe led to the detour of these past 20 years or so. (Is 20 years a detour or what?)But stick with me. Maybe my experiences will help you deal with something you’re living with. At least I hope and pray they will.