I’ve been waiting to write this post for awhile now. Most of the time I only like to write about food, fitness, and happy things in my life, however life is more than those things sometimes. I want to share with you the major changes that are happening in my life right now and how I came to make these changes.
As you probably know if you’ve been reading Eat on the Run, I moved to the Mid-West to continue my education at Purdue in the PhD program. It was a struggle from the beginning. First, I missed my family tremendously. So of course, I assumed it was just home sickness and I’d eventually get used to being this far away.
Yet, during my time at home during the holidays, I remember feeling scared. Scared of returning back to Purdue. I literally dreaded it. Most people after Christmas day get the blues because of the constant build up and then you have that day after feeling. Mom thought that’s what I was going through, and honestly that’s what I assumed too.
I returned and started in the lab again, hoping that I’d pick up a project that truly excited me. Instead, it was a constant rat race between classes and lab work. While I acknowledge that this is normal for graduate school, I struggled finding any enjoyment in the work I was doing. I butted heads with people in my lab just due to the fact that I had different priorities and also that I didn’t work the way they did. What I failed to recognize was that this feeling came from not being passionate about research.
In February, I hit a turning point. I knew that this was not the career path I had so highly coveted. After careful discussions with my parents and my major professor, I decided to pursue a Master’s in Foods and Nutrition as opposed to my PhD in hopes that I would then be able to continue on this journey seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. That light was quickly extinguished.
Come March, I struggled getting out of bed. I felt lackluster, lethargic, and just plain sad. I recall waiting for my classes to end just so I could escape to the bathroom to cry. Some days I couldn’t even bring myself to go to the lab because I felt strangled and boxed in. I knew something was wrong. This wasn’t me. I loved life! I’m a highly motivated individual with a strong work ethic. Yet, at this point I didn’t know who I was. With a much needed visit back home, I talked to my doctor and was put on some medication to help me cope. I explained to him that my normal coping mechanisms for stress were ineffective. Exercise, yoga, talking with friends, running, meditation, going to church were all failing to give me the comfort that I needed.
April continued on towards the end of the semester. The medication was partially effective and I was able to concentrate to finish the semester. Once classes ended however, a new wave of depression fell over me. I called it a rut, because how could I possibly still be depressed if I was on medication? That rut continued on for over a month. I didn’t want to exercise, eating healthy fell on the backburner to convenient options, and any routine I may have had vanished. I wasn’t me. I don’t know who I was. I didn’t want to talk to anyone. Not my Mom, not to Mario. I had nothing good to say. Not connecting with the people I truly loved also affected me.
At the end of June, I had a meltdown. It was bound to happen. I had a crossroads in front of me. I wanted to quit. However, the word “quit” stung. I’m not a quitter. I finish what I start. That’s not me. So again the struggle to define who I am continued. My mom flew out desperate to help. But the only person to drag me out of the situation I was in was me. I knew it. So I searched.
I sent a few emails, made some calls, talked to a few people, went home to reconnect with the people I love and all seemed to fall into place. Oh, and I prayed a lot. The expression “don’t forget what your knees are for” definitely had relevance. The big man upstairs and I had a lot of talks.
I’m now walking away from the program at Purdue. I’m admitting that maybe I made a mistake in my choice of career paths. But I refuse to become victim to this mistake. I’ll make it right. I’m returning back to Penn State to work at Penn State Fitness and I couldn’t feel any more excited right now. Many people are also commenting on how different I sound. This makes me happy to hear.
When you are such a blessed person it’s hard to admit to depression. I felt like I didn’t deserve to feel the way I did. I was in school, I have a wonderful and loving family, and I have the most loving and supportive boyfriend. Anyone looking in would wonder why I had anything to be sad about. However, depression is very real. It’s humbling. And yes, I’ll probably still struggle for awhile. But with the support network I have and also my faith, I know I can return to being myself again.
I know this post had nothing to do with healthy living technically, but I want to be real with my readers. Life takes twists and turns, and we need to be strong enough to navigate those roads.
All the best,