Depression Days, Altered Plans, & Growth Reflections

It’s one of those days…one of those days where I’m feeling more depressed than I am anxious. Actually, that’s how the past 4 days have been. When I have days like this, it’s often because the anxiety has been building up for so long and my mind & body finally just goes into shut down mode. Does it suck? ABSOLUTELY…but I’m able to handle these days better than I was able to a couple years ago.

This is one of those posts I’m writing more for myself, to sort through my thoughts. If you want to read along, please do; I hope that maybe you can find some comfort in knowing that you are not alone on the hard days. If not, no worries. I’ll understand if you don’t feel like reading all this word vomit. Anyways, I’m going to dive in.

Here’s the Story:

I graduated with my doctorate in occupational therapy back in August (woohoo!) and spent 6 months studying tirelessly for my board certification exam, the NBCOT. Was I planning on it taking 6 months to prepare? No, but one of the things I’ve learned over the past couple years is to relinquish control and not have every little thing perfectly scheduled out. That being said, 6 months of studying is what ended up happening.

I had it planned out. I was going to take a 2 week break after graduation to enjoy life and relax after busting my ass in OT school the past 3 years, then dive into studying for ideally 8 weeks, but no more than 12. HAHA. That’s definitely NOT what happened. That little 2 week break started with me getting COVID. Somehow I survived being on a fieldwork rotation in a hospital in the middle of COVID and had patients cough and breathe on me, but I couldn’t survive a weekend running around Dallas while celebrating with my loved ones. So, the first week following graduation was spent quarantining. Since quarantining is NOT a fun break, I added on an extra week, turning what should have been a 2 week break into a 3 week break.

Okay, time to study, right? Eh…not exactly. I spent a week working to get everything organized so that I could start studying, and then when I was finally ready to begin studying, I got hit with another curveball with my health. I’m still not exactly sure what happened, but I’m pretty sure it comes down to me having a hypoglycemic episode. I hadn’t eaten well that day, was really stressed (because I was starting to study for the NBCOT), decided to go to a yoga class to calm my nerves, and ended up in the ER. Apparently I passed out and an ambulance was called. I have no recollection of it happening or riding in the ambulance; the only thing I remember is feeling hot and nauseous in class, and then waking up in the ER. That was a fun time, a fun time that has left me with $5,000 in medical bills AFTER insurance (insert eye-roll here).

After all that passed, I was FINALLY able to truly get to studying. It still took a couple of weeks to find my groove. Despite asking seasoned therapists, peers who had graduated before me, and looking online for advice on what/how to study, it was still learning process to figure out what worked best for me. Once I got started, I was able to make decent headway. I had a week in October where I went to visit my parents and got ZERO studying done. I brought study materials with me but ended up never even taking my laptop out of my backpack. I just wanted to enjoy being present with them. Thanksgiving wasn’t much different; I studied probably a total of 2-3 hours the whole week I was there. Again, I just wanted to enjoy being present with my family since I don’t seem them that often.

I continued studying through the end of the year, actually accomplishing some decent studying over Christmas, and took a little break to kickstart 2023 with a trip to L.A. Upon getting home to Texas, I scheduled the exam. With it being a challenge to get seats at the testing centers, the soonest available date in my area was the beginning of March. So, I scheduled it for then and continued studying my life away. Countless hours in front of a computer screen, reading and re-reading notes, multiple practice tests & practice simulations, and virtual study meetings later, I felt kinda sorta ready-ish…

The Test:

After I took the test the beginning of March, I then had to wait 2 weeks to get my results. I honestly wasn’t sure how I felt about it when I walked out of the testing center. I was mentally exhausted after taking a 4-hour exam on a computer screen, and honestly just wanted a nap. I didn’t feel like I had blown the exam out of the water, but I didn’t feel like I had epically failed it either. I felt like I had probably either made just above a passing score, or just below a passing score. All of my practice test scores were even in that range, so it seemed reasonable I felt that way. Well, 2 weeks later, scores were released…

9 points…I was 9 FREAKING POINTS away from a passing score. That sucked. I wasn’t necessarily surprised, but it didn’t change the fact that it sucked to have been so close but not close enough. I hated having to tell my parents. They had so much confidence in me and had rallied their friends and other family members to pray. I felt like I had disappointed people. I was also a bit disappointed in myself since I had worked so hard and spent so long studying, but I really felt like I had let others down.

I got my results on a Thursday and prior to scores being released, I had decided that if the results were NOT what I was hoping for, I would give myself through the weekend to be upset about it. I wanted to give myself a few days to sit with my feelings and process through things, so that I could get back to the grind and begin studying in a clear headspace.

On the day I got my results, I was able to get scheduled for my next attempt, which will be the end of May. I didn’t want to wait that long, but that was unfortunately the earliest date available in my area and the next closest testing center is 2 hours away. As I said, it’s hard to get seats at the testing centers since they administer MANY types of exams. You could be in a room with other people taking the NBCOT, people doing an audiology certification exam, someone taking their CPA exam, and someone testing to get their real estate license, so it’s pretty busy. That being said, end of May it is. I’m ready to kick this test in the ass this time. I know what areas I need to work on, somewhat, based on my score report, and I’m using that to help guide my studying for this next attempt. I’m hoping it will go better this time and that I will pass. I’m trying to manifest good things and think positive thoughts.

Present Day:

Now, I’m working on studying for attempt number two. I went to visit my parents for a week after I got my NBCOT results (had the trip booked in advance), and it was a nice time to recharge, even with me studying some while there. Since getting home, I have really been trying to get back in the study zone. It’s been hard though. Mentally, I have been in such a weird place and have been feeling extremely overwhelmed. It’s to the point where the depression is very present and has made it hard to get much done. I’m trying to work through it and identify what changes need to be made. There are a couple things I can think of that are contributing to my lowered mood:

  • ISOLATION. Being at home and studying for so long has taken its toll on me. I don’t have that many social interactions at the moment, aside from yoga class or going to Whole Foods. I’m very ready to start working and actually be able to interact with people regularly. I’m trying to get out and do stuff, like go for walks around the lake with my dog and go to events for my undergraduate university’s local alumni group, but I NEED more consistent interactions with others.
  • FINANCIAL STRESS. Between not being able to start my career yet (i.e. I don’t have a strong income stream), trying to pay rent & bills, paying for weekly therapy appointments, buying groceries, and having that damn hospital bill to pay off, I’ve been EXTREMELY stressed over finances. I’ve been having to dip into my savings account way more than I’d like, but it’s kind of my only option right now. It’s definitely wearing on me.

I’m not entirely sure what to do. The isolation is easier to tackle, but the finances have me feeling a bit more stuck. I’m trying to see if I can find anything online to earn some money, but I need something that’s flexible. Studying for boards still has to be my main priority. I wish I could just snap my fingers and have all my problems be solved, but that’s not how life works. So, I’m just going to continue pressing on and rise above it. I always do. Even today, my therapist told me how resilient she has seen me be over these past 3 years of me seeing her. I’ll figure it all out, eventually.

As usual, I’m not exactly sure how to wrap this all up. If you read all of this, thank you. I know it was a lot of rambling word vomit, but I did say I was writing it more to sort through my thoughts. Maybe some of this resonated with you…or maybe you sat there rolling your eyes at me. Either way, thank you for sticking around until the end.

I really would like to get more consistent with writing. I know I have been saying that for so long and have yet to make it happen, but it is something I need to do. It’s always so therapeutic for me when I write everything out. I’ve tried journaling, but I’m honestly worse at keeping up with that than I am with my blog. Plus, I like this more because other people can read it and hopefully relate. If even ONE person can feel less alone, that would be worth it. I am going to try to be more consistent. It might be a slow start, but I promise I will try.

Sending light & love your way – J

Checkout my journaling guide, Journey to Journaling: 36 Journaling Prompts to Inspire You & Promote Thoughtful Reflection, and my self-care guide, Worth It! A Guide to Helping You Practice Self-Care. Both are available on Amazon for $9.99 as a paperback and a Kindle edition. Both are also available for $9.99 on Payhip as a digital download if you prefer a digital copy but don’t have a Kindle. Click the links below to purchase:

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