My husband and I watched a really interesting documentary the other day called Makers: Women in Business. It’s a documentary series and this one was about the evolution of women in the market place. It featured groundbreaking women, most of whom I’d never heard, but there were some familiar names: Oprah, Carly Fiorina, Martha Stewart.
The day before we watched this my doctor told me I need to lose 30 lbs (no shit sherlock) and my husband and I had a very intense conversation, which ended with me feeling undervalued (not entirely his fault).
This is by way of explaining why, after watching the Women in Business documentary, when my husband invited me to talk to him about whatever I happened to be thinking about, I said, “I’m not who I thought I’d be,” and then burst into tears and cried for almost the next hour straight with very little in the way of coherent words.
I have been depressed since a very young age and in my teen years I figured out it wasn’t normal, not everyone felt that way all of the time. This realization somehow gave me hope; it wouldn’t always be that way. I was an intelligent child, someone who got straight A’s without thinking about it too hard. I never did have a clear idea of what I wanted to do or be, but everyone always said that I was young and I would figure it out eventually. I believed them.
I spent a lot of time in bookstores during this time. I loved to read and because of my mental health issues, I loved to read psychology books about mental illness. As a result, when it was time to go to college, I decided that, despite the fact that I loved to write creatively, Psychology was a good major for me. It was practical, useful, and interesting. And I was doing fine my freshman year of college in my Psych classes. But then over Christmas break, I went home and visited the highschool English teacher that I adored and she asked me why I wasn’t a Creative Writing major. Honestly, at that time, it had never occurred to me.
I went back to school and switched my major the following semester. I graduated with a degree in Creative Writing. I had no practical skills and college-taught marketable skills. And I didn’t even really want to be a writer. Writing is hard. It takes an incredible amount of self-discipline. It is an incredibly solitary endeavor. And it’s not even remotely financially stable. I went to work for a tutoring company working with students with learning disabilities.
I was really good at that. I advanced quickly, in less than a year becoming a training director. I loved this job. I started to think that this would be what I could do. It was a franchise. I could work there for awhile and eventually, in ten or fifteen years, buy my own. And then my mental illness stepped in and two years after starting there, I was fired for interpersonal problems with my coworkers and my boss.
I was devastated. Quite literally. It was difficult to leave the house. I started to have panic attacks in public. I couldn’t get out of bed. My mental illness took over. I filed for social security disability. I have not been able to work full time since then.
My husband and I regularly have heated discussions about our “contributions to the marriage”. He’s right of course. I feel like a thorough failure. I am an accomplished knitter. At the moment, that is the best I can say for myself.