Fast times 

I’m writing to you from the bus, the crowded morning bus, because right now it’s the only time I’m still other than when I sleep.

A series of events has led me to a tough time abroad. And by “tough time” I mean depressed. The combination of two very sick grandmothers I can’t visit, too much to do, two very difficult classes to teach, a mid-semester move, witnessing a very bad accident on the road, and the daily struggle that is living in China have beaten me down. The result? A battered immune system, low energy, crying spells, apathy, and physical pains I can’t cure.

I’m no stranger to depression. I’ve successfully navigated some tough times in life (family crises, loved one with chronic illness, moving multiple times, losing my job, having a tumor removed at age 24, etc.), but being abroad is definitely making management and recovery more difficult. There’s only so much I can do to mitigate stress. I have health insurance, but can only meet with a counselor five times before I have to pay out of pocket. So I met with one last week and this week because there is far too much going on.

It’s hard to talk about and still difficult to write about, but both of my grandmothers are very sick. One was recently diagnosed with stage three pancreatic cancer. Inoperable. It’s horrifying because no one saw any warning signs. Not even her own primary doctor. The other, as I mentioned before, has dementia, and it’s starting to affect more than just her as it gets worse and affects my grandfather. These were previously two of the ablest people I’ve known; the “youngest old people,” I used to say.

It worries me how all this affects my parents. My siblings. Me, who can’t be there to help, who can only text from thousands of miles away and ask for an update or photos from Easter. It worries me how I might not get to see my grandmothers as I know them because, in a way, one is already gone. The other is slowly wasted away by cancer. It worries me how if I go home anytime soon it won’t be pleasant… it’ll likely be for a final visit or a funeral.

Then: seeing a pool of blood on the crosswalk shook me awake. I didn’t sleep well for several nights. I couldn’t. The scene was a crosswalk near where we used to live, which made the accident more real. I have joked before that the most dangerous thing I do every day is cross the street, but it really, truly is. I’m glad we moved to a less hectic part of town, but I feel like I can’t escape the fear of what might happen, considering that I saw it happen.

These are fast times, and I haven’t got much to do except soldier on and try to rest when I can.

My mind is fractured by a thousand worries every minute of every day, and it takes a lot of strength to focus enough to teach. It takes a lot of strength just to get out of bed. I’m trying to scale back where possible, lean on what few others I have here, and stay in the current moment instead of letting my thoughts muse too much on the future and the whatifs and the pain that inevitably lies ahead.

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4 thoughts on “Fast times 

  1. The only way to avoid depression is to close your eyes to the miserable beauty of real life. I admire you tremendously. Sending lots of love.

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  2. My darling daughter, it pains me that I cannot even comfort you right now. My heart reaches for you! Please believe me that your dad and I are working through this yes there are good days and bad but we are managing. Please try to run if you can I know that helps you, yoga, read the Bible and prayer. Honey, we love you so much and are proud of the work that you are doing. I wish we could help with the experiences that you are having to make it better, that is natural for any parent to want to due. But believe me when I say “We Love You and to Please take care of our girl” I can’t right now and it pains me, to know that you are hurting. You can call us any evening, we always have time for you!!!!! Mommy

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  3. I’m always thinking of you and how brave and strong you are. I seem to be feeling similarly (grammar correction?) to how you’re feeling yet you have so many more challenges weighing on you. I try to keep in mind that fortunately change is inevitable and is a blessing to come when things are rough. You’re my superhero. Keep flying.

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