Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A Depressed Volunteer Abroad: My Story

Okay, so today is a day to be honest: my last time volunteering in China wasn't all bouncing babies on my knee while laughing amongst rainbows and flowers. I got hit with depression big time, which I strongly suspect was connected to my having gone on birth control to help regulate my hormones (obviously if that's true, that didn't work).

I was able to learn the basics of what I needed to help out somewhat in my volunteer duties...  but the last 3-4 months of the entire year were the hardest, and I basically just holed myself away in my room, only coming out to eat and use the bathroom. I was miserable, sometimes crying, not understanding why I felt this way and why I was so anxious about doing any kind of work or interaction with others.

I got home and quit the birth control around the same time (I stayed on my medication that I already took for depression, though, which I've been diagnosed with since I was a teenager). My mood/motivation improved gradually over the following months. I noticed, my parents (whom I live with) noticed. My sister and brother-in-law, meanwhile, really needed help with the nonprofit, and for some reason they asked my parents how I was doing, and the response was positive.

So they asked me to come back and help them. I was so excited, and also just really happy... I had been feeling like a complete and utter failure up until then. I still do, in a way; an experience and mindset like that doesn't go away overnight.

I won't lie, I'm nervous about the possibility of that happening again once I go back. But on the other hand, I feel like this time will be different. I feel like I've learned from what happened before, and come back stronger and better prepared about what to do should that happen again.

I'm sharing this because I feel it needs to be shared. My hope is for others who may have experienced something similar to read it and know that they are not alone.

What has been a learning experience for you? It can be as big or small as you're comfortable sharing.

2 replies:

Anonymous said...

Well, I learned today that though this year has been fantastic thus far, I am still ensnared in some situations that frustrate me, that may not go away anytime soon.

I'm beginning to learn that life is final. My best friend killed herself at about midnight on the morning of Sept. 30th. Her favorite holiday was Halloween..

But I am also beginning to realize that as important to me as she was, there is a whole beautiful world out there full of people. A lot of them suck, but some of them are pretty fantastic.

I found you through a story thing on by the way, I'm Araelysia on there, or my own blog is if you want to read it.

I'm also learning more and more that I don't trust pharmaceutical companies to help me. I have social phobia and major recurrent depression, or something, and the medications I've tried have all backlashed horribly.

I hope things go better for you in the future!

Leah Waig said...

Hello, Araelysia. Thanks for your comment; I'm so sorry to hear about your friend. I'm glad you think the world is beautiful, though. :) I know, I've heard about medications not working for other people, too... I'm fortunate that my anti-depressant meds seem to work fine for me.

Thank you for your well-wishes! Same to you.

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