Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Stress, sadness, and overall depression

So...stress, sadness, and overall depression. Such a heavy topic for such a joyful time of year (it is Novruz [link] here - more to come on that later), but this has got to be said.

As a Peace Corps Volunteer, you are bound to experience all three of these in some vary degrees during your service. Nothing can be done about it. Peace Corps is an emotional roller coaster.

The real question is what do you do while you are in your pit of despair?

Although my first few months in country (and subsequent months at site) are a hazy blur, I do remember an almost debilitating array of emotions. Your first food poisoning, you want your mom so bad you find yourself locked in the bathroom crying or screaming at a taxi driver for overcharging you. You try to keep a tight control over every emotion, but it comes out at the most inconvenient times.

I was lucky that my Az5 site mate had already broken the "running barrier" and I could exercise to relieve some of my tension. Exercise is a God-send. I don't care how you work it into your schedule (Jessica talked a local into running with her), but get it done.

My second round of sadness came at a time when I least expected it. I remember waking up one morning, knowing that the next few weeks were gonna be rough. Nothing triggered that particular bout of unhappiness, well, except for living miles and miles from home.

I spent a lot of nights, locked in my room, watching American sitcoms. Probably not the most effective way to deal with sadness, but it was something. I also forced myself to watch American sitcoms with other PCVs and ate a ridiculous amount of spaghetti (my comfort food).

My third round, I can only classify as depression. It was bad and it came when I realized I was really extending and everyone was going home. That was one of those bad bad situations that you have to ride out.

Luckily, I had recently gotten A DSL in my apartment had could Skype home. After two years of barely speaking to my family, I now have the ability to talk with them whenever time allows. This has been a game changer. I don't think I would have made it a third year without their support.

I also bake a lot. My site mates find it hilarious that I rarely eat anything I cook, but it is the repetitive motion of chopping, mixing, and baking that gives my day structure.

I previously mentioned that I have stopped watching dramas and try to steer clear of anything overly emotional. I create iTunes playlists of 80's rock hits and pop music to lift my spirits and I can be found doing a cross-word when I just need to let my mind rest.

And of course, my counterpart, Könül has been a major factor in keeping me sane. Although there is a lot about me that she probably doesn't know, she's got the important stuff down. Having a local person that I can go to when it gets really bad makes all the difference. It really does.