I bumped into a former teaching colleague of mine the other day. It was really interesting, as the first thing he said to me was “I read your blog every day Chuck”. That was a surprise on so many levels; first, that he knew about my blog and read it daily. I would love to show my readers the breath and width of countries from around the world which have readers of my blog. Secondly, that Bob reads my blog on a regular bases is rather humbling.
Bob and I taught high school English together for many years. He was our department head and really held us to a pretty high standard. I would have put our department up against any other high school in Winnipeg. Though we were considered “tough” by our students, I know for a fact that many went on and did great things with their lives because of the quality of our teaching. On a personal note, I know that Bob made me a better teacher and for that I am truly grateful, thank you Sir.
We talked for quite a while in the baked goods department of the grocery store; I dare say we got in the way of many irritated shoppers who were there to grab their pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving, rather than to ruminate on our life’s journeys.
The subject of my depression arose and Bob indicated that he never really knew that I suffered from depression. The times were different when we were teaching colleagues. It truly was a burden to carry around. On the days when I felt good, it was quite easy to function…however, as I described to Bob, the albatross was always overhead, ready to swoop down and allow the monster overtake my thinking.
On the days when I was really struggling, my energy was sapped before I even got to school; making it through a day like that, three classes of 30-35 high school students, was emotionally and physically exhausting. I withdrew to my classroom, preps and lunch hours alone, hoping to hold on.
Talking about depression at that time just didn’t happen. It wasn’t accepted as a reality, as it is today. So, I bore the brunt of much negative commentary from staff: “what’s wrong with Chuck today” “what’s with that guy” “why isn’t he ever happy?”…and on and on. This only exacerbated the pain I was feeling, not knowing what to say or do. There were specific individuals whom I taught with who were unrelenting in their disparaging comments; though I put in long days of marking, planning, teaching, directing, Unity Group..the hurtful comments at times were too much to bear.
It’s a different world today for those who suffer from depression. I openly talked with Bob about my struggles and the affect it has had on my life. He was understanding and could understand the difficult times I had to endure from specific teaching colleagues. I can’t really be upset with anybody, because at that time, depression was not considered an illness and wasn’t spoken about.
I shared with Bob how so many former students of mine have reached out via Facebook and thanked me for being open about my struggles, as they too have faced the demons of depression. It has given them permission to talk about their illness, much like others talk about their diseases.
It was truly great seeing you Bob. You were a great mentor and someone whom I looked up to, even after you moved on from teaching. Thanks again…and thank you for reading my blog, that truly is humbling.