Today, in Barnes and Noble, I noticed the DSM-5
Stored behind the cash register like cigarettes.
When I first started teaching, I was a few months away from my study of the DSM-4. DSM stands for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. It lists psychological and mental maladies and the criteria required for diagnosing them.
It reminded me of back then…
Months after I had left undergraduate school
When I pondered, why I had left school
Left the field of psychology
I didn’t know how much my studies
would inform my practice.
Thank God I studied
The combination of God’s grace, the study of Psychology, and the constant support of friends and family equipped me…mostly.
I was equipped
But I wasn’t secure
I think back to Sundays.
Fridays the sunrays bode hope.
Sunsets smiled into warm nights spent nursing the week’s wounds
at Charles Village Pub.
Saturdays more therapy
The retail kind
A little bit of Jesus, a little bit of brunch
An afternoon nap and some semblance of lesson plans
How those confounded me then.
So stressed to learn to write them, execute them, make sense of them
Why did I have to write them, if I was following a prescribed program?
I was so irritated by the redundancy and attempts to improve the process,
That I failed to notice my own improvement.
And then, Sunday evening
All would change around 5pm.
And without being insensitive to those who truly suffer, I have wondered if I didn’t meet any of the criteria in the DSM-4.
Sunday at five
The clouds would roll in
Threatening all kinds of hell, brimstone, storms of enormous magnitude.
My bright apartment would dim with gloom
It was like clockwork,
and I wondered if I wasn’t in the DSM-4,
if I hadn’t discovered a new malady.
The despair I felt at times is still palpable.
Going on because I had no choice—I’d made a commitment, not the contract on paper but to the children in my class.
Not to leave.
So I stayed.
And I stayed stuck, in that place for a while.
Stuck in stormy Sundays.
A month of Sundays—an idiomatic stretch of time
I couldn’t have lived a month a Sundays—plunged into darkness.
Pondered skipping church just to:
Write lesson plans
Otherwise extend the day…
Prayer worked best, though.
It took one full year, at least…
And I noticed that Sundays were mellowing
They lacked the dread I remember so clearly
Maybe mild anxiety
But nothing that couldn’t be assuaged with a little TV or a phone call to a friend.
It did get better.
And that’s what we look for—
I’d read that book if I had it.
See what’s new
Surely there had to be an app that contained the information.
The book itself looked so heavy.
I know what it is to feel the weight of the impossible
Lingering with a mist of demise
And to rise.
I know, too what it is to be light
More skills, sensitivity, insight, experience…
Not a malady
But a joy
And not environment
That wasn’t the change.
But perspective and growth
And thank God for growth!
Of all things, thank God that despite a bevy of maladies,
There is healing.