In my twenties and for most of my thirties, Endorpha, Dopamine and Sera took center stage along the pathways of my brain. The euphoric buzz created between the three sisters caused my body to stiffen and my nerves to shake as I searched for a place to unload all the energy trapped within. I couldn’t help it; my youthful body and the biology associated with it automatically welcomed any event that created a chemical dependency.
After clearing my first credential, I found myself with a lot of time on my hands. I was thirty – two and obsessively waiting for the new academic trimester to begin. I worked hard to complete my B.A, earn a certificate and was about to start the graduate portion of the program.
I felt ALIVE.
My life at the time consisted of three things: work, school and going out on the weekends. In those days, I drank up all the validation I received from my education until I was drunk; on the weekends I’d crave staying up way past three in the morning, as if were heroin. As for work? I’d snort up every new experience I was learning in the classroom. I was definitely using every coping strategy available during those stress filled – yet exciting times. That was 2007.
After the housing market crashed in 2008, I had to fight year after year to keep a teaching job. The party life was officially over. All the energy and money I’d put into my two credentials and Master’s Degree amounted to nothing as more and more seasoned teachers were let go. Every summer, as I waited impatiently for some sign of returning to the classroom I would think to myself, I’m thirty – nine and can’t afford to look for another career.
Then, after a five year cycle of the same routine, something broke. A nearby district, in an affluent community posted positions for the upcoming year. When I applied, I’d been so beat down by the previous five years I didn’t put much hope in the idea of getting an interview. This was a highly desirable district and many, many people would be applying.
Once the district sorted through 250 applications with only sixteen positions available, I was hired on at a full time teacher…on temporary contract. I didn’t care, the interview process woke up the sleeping sisters who had been laying low for quite a while. Endorpha, Dopemine and Sera were up to their old tricks as they coursed through my brain. If they got me through school; they’d also get me through my first year at a new district as a first grade teacher.
One Sunday night in October of 2013, after a couple of months on the job, I felt the dark cloud of depression hovering over my head. I hated the feel of depression. It scared me. The heightened sensation of everything around me and the lack of energy was a weird combination. It was really odd because the cooler weather and upcoming holidays always guaranteed an automatic high. Even with Halloween as an incentive, I couldn’t muster up any strength to get me through the next hour. I hated teaching first grade. No matter what I tried, I couldn’t find success among the six year old kids. It was not a good fit. And to top it off, I had piled on so many extra responsibilities at my new site, I was overwhelmed and over loaded.
The next morning, as usual, I arrived at work before everyone else. I opened the door to my classroom, placed the pile of teacher edition books I’d taken home for the weekend on the desk, looked around and thought, “I can’t do this today; nor tomorrow or for the rest of the week.” I took off my lanyard and keys, left them on the desk, got in my car and drove off. Once I got far enough away from the school, I pulled the car over, text my principal and wrote, “I’m so sorry but I won’t be returning to this job.”
I had no savings, no plan, and over a hundred grand in student loans. I had made one of the biggest mistakes of my life.
What I Figured Out
I have an addictive mind. I always have. I can trace it all the way back to when I was a teenager and I found Christ. I wasn’t satisfied just being a regular Christian, I had to be a saint. I fasted regularly and prayed obsessively because I believed there was a true formula for holiness and I was going to reach it. When I turned eighteen and discovered the nightclub…I had to be there every weekend. When I was accepted into the seminary, my job couldn’t be just any job – it had to be a call from God.
On and on and on, Endorpha, Dopamine and Sera kept coaxing me into believing the next best thing would eventually send me to a place of external bliss. Just like a drug addict who uses chemicals to experience an eternal high, I used the natural sisters in my brain to balance me out.