First, a request: if I owe you cards, please send me an email or leave a comment. I have unintentionally lost my sheet that I use to keep up with trades and I don't want to leave anyone hanging. Please forgive me.
Second, this post has little (if anything) to do with baseball cards. If you have no interest in a post about my personal life, you may want to close this page now. You won't hurt my feelings one bit.
Still here? Thank you. It means a lot to me that you care about what I have to say beyond little pieces of cardboard!
I haven't posted a new update on this blog in almost a month. I studied all semester for my qualifying exams. I took the exams in early April. I had my oral defense in late April. I then had to watch, critique, and grade final projects for the class I taught. By the second week of May, I was mentally shot. I literally felt as if I were on the verge of a mental collapse. I needed a break, so I went "off grid," deciding that my cell phone, email, and social media could wait.
In the States, May is Mental Health Awareness month. I didn't know that until about two months ago, when I began doing some research with a faculty member here at Tech. For me, mental health and mental health awareness are very important. I (probably against my better judgment) have decided that I want to share my story in hopes that it can help someone. So bear with me.
In my youth, I never really experienced what I would consider a "mental health issue." Though I was (and am) an only child, I never felt alone. I played just about every sport I could. Furthermore, I never got into trouble, as my parents did a terrific job in instilling discipline in me. Sometimes this meant a paddle or belt, sometimes it even meant digging cactus (a form of manual labor punishment meant to rid our farm of the plant, but in reality, only making it spread quicker). This was also true of my academics - I was expected to earn all "A" grades, and with the exception of one class, I did. Everything seemed great, but I never experienced failure, which meant that I never learned how to use it in a positive manner.
My freshman year of college, a perfect storm of bad luck descended upon me. I found my "first true love," and was promptly dumped, leaving me with heartbreak for the first time. Two days later, my grandfather (who has always been a father figure to me) had a massive heart attack and spent the better part of a month in the hospital, seemingly always teetering between life and death. The stress of these events lead me to not study properly (or enough, for that matter) and I received my first "C" in microeconomics. When I saw my grade in early December, I mentally broke - I locked myself in my room and didn't come out for about two weeks. I rarely ate and slept even less than I ate. During those two weeks, I lost close to 25 pounds. Finally, my roommate got in touch with my mom to let her know he was afraid for me.
My mom came to visit and convinced me to get out and get a breath of fresh air. I left my room and convinced her that I was okay. I put on a happy face and told everyone I was fine. In reality, I was still battling all kinds of emotions.
This was the beginning for me. It opened me up to what has been a lifetime of of battling depression. This is usually brought on by a failure of some sort. I've gotten much better - I generally cope with failure pretty successfully now, but every once in a while, I have a relapse and it takes me some time to move forward.
This happened earlier this month. Though not a typical failure - I passed my comps - my feedback was pretty brutal (but fair). I had a hard time coping with it. This is why I disappeared, this is why I went silent. I needed to get myself centered again.
What I have left out of this story is the instrumental role my family has played in helping me cope with my depression. I also have a professional that I speak with when times get really tough. All of this help is vital for me to stay healthy.
I don't share this to gather your condolences. I share this with you in hopes that it will inspire you to seek help, should you need it. I often feel alone in my fight, but this couldn't be further from the truth. I am never alone in my fight, and neither are you. All you need to do is ask for help, and you will certainly find it.
Thanks for your time.