It's now been almost a year since the beginning of my failed internship, and my life has still not gotten back to any semblance of "normal." Nothing has gone as I planned or expected, and despite the fact that day-to-day existence is rather insipid, the continual changes have kept me quite off-balance, making a full mental recovery difficult. Here is what has happened since October:
Since I had paid my fees for the Fall semester, I was still able to see the counselors at Health Services. My weekly sessions were at least cathartic; it was nice to be able to talk to someone who was not only non-judgmental, but also not involved with the situation surrounding my leaving the internship. Paul sat and listened intently while I alternately whispered and cried about my failure, offering suggestions where I asked and providing a voice of reason when mine was lost.
Of all the facets of depression, I was then and am now the most disturbed at how fleeting reason can be when overwhelmed by the neurosecretions of emotion. I knew intellectually that leaving the internship had been the best thing for me, Sue, and our students at the time; I knew this wasn't the end of the world, and I'd get back into teaching eventually; I knew that this one failure was no reason to shuffle off the mortal coil. But all of those reasonable elements were so quickly subsumed by the emotions of guilt, irretrievable forfeiture of my future, and the sheer need to quit this existence. I knew from my class on Neurobiology and Behaviour a portion of how and why this could occur; yet I felt frequently as though I were two different people, one rational, the other completely devoid of reason, subject to the whims of fate and serotonin. I would drive to orchestra practice at UNH, patiently explaining to the suicidal side that no, we would not be driving off the road into the trees; that would be messy, and besides, Dave would need the car with or without me. I slept for hours each day, but could barely keep my eyes open while I was awake; even then, I slipped into a nocturnal existence, sleeping while Dave was at school during the day, meagerly productive only at night. Somehow I got my graduate school application in on time; Paul helped me with the paperwork I needed to take a leave of absence that semester. I don't really remember most of those months; they have essentially slipped by in the haze that was pure emotion.
Somewhere along the way, after I had gone off the pill for the first time in five years, I realized that I ought to have a Plan B in case the graduate school fell through. So, in January, I sent out my resume, shuffled off to the employment agencies, and tried to put that little bit of life back together. I had a few temp jobs through February; was hired full-time by Owl Separation Systems down in Woburn, Mass; decided I didn't like that one bit, and went back to temping in March.
There have been a few weeks at a time that I haven't worked, but from May 26 until August 25, I worked in the Communications department at North Atlantic Energy Service Corp., also known as Seabrook Nuclear Station. I was fired just before I had intended to quit (my supervisor claimed it was my "attitude," and although I did have a few bad days towards the end, due to my recurring depression, I made sure it never affected to quality of my work, of which I was quite proud...). I'm not sure what will come next, since I can't afford to go back to school without departmental support, and my next temp job could be a lot less desirable than this one.
What I have been left with this year is the lingering taste of failure. I was a great student -- knew how to get the grades I wanted, enjoyed being in class and studying the world around me -- but those things seem to matter very little outside of the realm of Academia. No one has yet asked to see my transcript; no one cares what my major was. People see me as an administrative assistant (the kind of position for which one needs almost no education) and assume that I've been doing this since high school, that I have no further aspirations, or at least, no skills with which to fulfill them. Sometimes I catch myself feeling the same way.
I have a degree in Biology which I got with honors; I play the violin, not with any significant degree of mastery, but I do get along; I can sew, paint, draw, write, design databases, explain evolution to anyone who asks; I am competent at many things... but what do I have to show for it? It stings to think about myself that way, but less each time it happens; I guess I'm getting used to wasting my skills.
However, it is almost the end of the Year Nothing Went Right (as I have come to think of it). I've only had a few episodes of depression since January, most lasting no more than a week at a time. David and I set a tentative date for trying to conceive our first child, in August of 1999, so at least I have something to look forward to; and we are trying to plan a vacation to Europe before then as well. I will be applying to the Zoology and Biochemistry departments once again, and continue to look for jobs at UNH (with little success so far). I'm not a big believer in karma or such things, but the optimist in me -- who has not yet been snuffed -- insists that things must start to go right again soon. Shouldn't they?
They did! It's now March, 2000, and everything is actually quite wonderful now! Read the most recent update and find out why!
Looking back at the fiasco that was my internship, now almost three years in the past, I have more of an inkling about what went wrong. I know that I approached the process of selecting a cooperating teacher too lightly, deciding on her based on cosmetics, rather than whether our personalities would match in the long run. However, she was also a part of that decision, and may have made it without realizing the time committment it would entail, as she had too much on her plate already. Unfortunately, one of the major portions of the internship was the seminar, over which I had no control; as you may have read in the last Journal Summary, I simply didn't get along with my seminar leader. This was, of course, the fault of neither of us; some people just have incompatible personalities, as was our case. I do feel that if I could do the internship over, it would go much better... but now I have almost no interest in public school teaching! We plan to homeschool our children, so I wouldn't have the time, for one; and I have somewhat lost faith in the system. I know if I worked very hard, I might be able to change it... but sadly, that no longer interests me. I have considered running an after-school science enrichment program; once the baby (and those in the future) is old enough, I will definitely consider such a business. Either way, I doubt that I have a future in the public schools, but things do change, so we'll see.