Yes, after the previous Really Bad Years of depression, talking to the doctor and the psychologist and getting advice and taking an antidepressant, citalopram (celexa, cipramil), I felt happier and more optimistic than I had for years.
Life took a turn for the better. I took on some small business clients who had the money to pay and the expectations to go with it. I felt a bit more optimistic that I could make it work, but in reality, working with these businesses caused me a great deal of worry.
I was still filled with doubts about my own abilities, lacked confidence in myself and my processes and let my clients feed my insecurities. Even though I had more clients, the stress of the job was still hard to deal with and I didn’t cope well with unexpected obstacles in the migration process.
Frances got me through. That beautiful soul with her gorgeous dark eyes, soft cuddly fur and adorable nature got me through some dark times. While I didn’t care about myself, her need for walks was the only reason I got out of the house at all. I did eventually seek professional medical and psychological help, but without my furry girl by my side I’m sure I would have sunk even lower.
And then she died.
I cried, deep, gut-wrenching sobs every day for exactly three months. I went to bed and didn’t get up for a fortnight.
In the months following Frances’ death I managed to conclude all of the active client immigration applications and began to temp full-time as a receptionist as I had through uni.
I felt very reckless in those months after Frances left me.
Part of me felt that nothing really mattered any more; that is, that with Franny’s death died the part of me which always did the sensible thing, the right thing, what everyone would expect and accept.
Suddenly I didn’t care.
At my receptionist jobs I spent hours (between phone calls) thinking about what would make me truly happy.
What did I really want to do with my life? How could I regain some of the joy that had been lost?
The joy which I gave away with archaeology. The bliss.
I wanted to be as far away as I could from that horrible life in that horrible house and began to research teaching English as a Second Language and working overseas.
I’ve always enjoyed languages, reading and writing. I’ve always been interested in the relationship between language and culture and learning where words come from.
It seemed a good choice.
I completed a certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. Armed with my freshly minted certificate, I turned my attention to the overseas teaching job posts.
There seemed to be so many job opportunities in so many countries. There was a lot of information to get through; which course should I do? Did I need teaching experience? Where should I go?
With my background in archaeology, I thought Egypt might be fun (all those antiquities)! I got a phone interview with the British Council in Cairo, but it was for a summer job with children and without any teaching experience, I didn’t get the job.
I turned my attention to countries in my region. It came down to Japan, Korea and China. There were so many jobs to choose from. As I look further into them, I noticed that Korean employers had a question on their application forms: Have you ever taking medication for depression?
This took me aback a bit. Why would they ask that? Why should that affect my ability to teach? Was it any of their business?
Korea was removed from the list.
Japan…I had no knowledge about Japan but it seemed such a tiny, crowded place. I read about how Japan had a massive program for bringing native-English speakers into schools and universities, but that somehow there was a scandal attached to it. Had they not paid their teachers? I was doubtful.
Japan was removed from the list.
That left China.
It’s a massive country. There are dozens of universities and colleges in every city. Each had many English teaching jobs advertised, each with their own terms and conditions. I was thoroughly confused.
I opened an atlas and closed my eyes. I made circles above the map of China with the index finger and then just dropped it down.
Huh! Inner Mongolia…was that even part of China?
I got a job at the Inner Mongolia College of Finance and Economics in the capital, Huhahaote.
It was a wonderful, if challenging experience and I was happier there than I had been in years.
Huhahaote is a smallish city by Chinese standards, easy to get around in with views of the mountains in each direction. There is a substantial ethnic Mongolian population and street signs and architecture bear evidence of Mongolian language and culture. The sky was clear blue, the grasslands were boundless and green, the temperature was below zero for much of the year…one of those challenges for this Aussie girl!
My colleagues were friendly, Saul from South Australia, Tod from the US, Peter from Canada and Alcoholic John from the UK. Our Chinese English language colleagues were also kind and approachable. The grounds of the college were under construction so it was like working in a construction site, but my apartment was warm and comfortable.
The students were lovely and so grateful for everything we did. I didn’t speak a word of Chinese, but they
took me out to dinners where we laughed and played drinking games, into the city to hotpot restaurants and karaoke, out walking in the hills and grasslands around the city.
I found a gym in town where I worked out three times a week and took Mongolian dance classes. There
was a small circle of apartment dogs we all fed and often my apartment was full of stray dogs and puppies who wandered about the campus. I fed them daily and they slept inside overnight, especially through winter. Having dogs around has always made my feel happier.
I still had moody days, blue days and often found it hard to keep my environment as clean as I would have liked, I missed home and my family. I thought about Franny frequently.
But I felt a heck of a lot happier than those really bad of depression.
The students were sweet and as a foreign teacher I was treated like royalty. I felt valued in the work, believed I was making a difference, traveled around China and enjoyed seeing all those fascinating places and learning about the culture and history and overall, felt…well…happy. Or at least, happier.
And I began to wonder…
Am I to be taking anti-depressant medication for the rest of my life? Was I still sick?
If you'd asked her 15 years ago if she believed life could be a wonderful as it is today, Vickie would have answered, 'I just don't know, but it doesn't seem likely.' Now she knows that if she can turn her life around, it's possible for you too. Ask Vickie how she can help you design the life you'd really love to live and say goodbye to depression forever.