The Thing about a ‘Down’

I apologize to the people who read my blog on a regular basis. I realize I’ve been a bit whiny and negative lately. I know I’ve told you about the down I’ve been riding out and the negativity is reflected in the posts I’ve done. Guess what? This is going to be another one and it’s not very pretty or coherent. I’m pre-apologizing so you can get yourself out while you still can.

My man Vinny knows what's up, this guy could easily be my best friend...if I could stand to be around other people right now

According to the all-knowing Wikipedia, depression is characterized by an all-encompassing low mood accompanied by low self-esteem, and by loss of interest or pleasure in normally enjoyable activities. I don’t think I’ve sunk that far, but in my mass amount of free time, there are times that I can’t bring myself to do much outside of huddling in my room reading my book (or series at this point) obsessively. I do this mostly because I get to immerse myself in someone else’s world and problems rather than deal with my own. My normal flow and schedule has been totally disrupted, making me feel even more uneasy. However, the mere idea of doing those things is so exhausting in it of itself that I don’t do them. These are things I find vital to my being and normally find profoundly satisfying in the overall content with life way.

Part of it is to do with things about Thailand that I want to change, but can’t. Part of it is to do with things to do with myself that I can’t change because I’m in Thailand. And then there’s that whole being a Volunteer bit. I think of America all the time and how I wouldn’t face most of these problems. All the delicious food I could be eating. Part of me hates the smile I have to plaster on my face. Sometimes, I just don’t do it anymore. Part of my insides flare up in anger when I have to hear yet another one of the Thai jokes about me and the differences between us. What it sums up to though is a fairly impatient, grumpy person that is probably not too much fun to be around. I just can’t be bothered to do anything about it.

A month ago, I wrote myself a little cheer-up note to get me through this last month of school and I thought it helped. And then we started practicing for test last week. I think it’s a fair estimate to say that over half of my students can’t pass (and by pass I mean get 50% correct) the fairly easy practice that we did. What am I doing wrong? It doesn’t help that Thai students are completely incapable of thinking for themselves, which is the basis of the kind of teaching style we’re trying to introduce here. My teacher told me that it’s normal for Thai kids, don’t worry about it, but I couldn’t help but wonder, if you (and I mean collectively, Thai people, not my teacher specifically) don’t expect and hope for improvement, how will it ever come? I know it’s only my first semester, but after the defeating week, I felt the idea of Goal 1 of Peace Corps (transfer of skills from Volunteers to host country nationals in a sustainable way) was being promptly thrown out the window. This is when I tell myself to jai-yen-yen, but this hot heart of mine was going down, down, down and there doesn’t seem like there’s anything I can do about it. I’m too tired to anyway.

I never really experienced this kind of low before the Peace Corps. Most of my dips into depression had mostly to do with heartbreak/loneliness. This dissatisfaction with most of life is an odd outlook for me to have. They said it would come. They said we’d be on a constant roller coaster. You never really know until you do it yourself though do you?

The best part about this though, it’s getting better. Really. With only two more legit days of school left, it’ll be a nice break to get out of the classroom and hopefully interact with my students and my community as a normal person (as normal as I’m going to get at least) rather than the farang teacher. One semester down and three more to go, hopefully they’re even better than this one. I’ve got a nice little vacation down south I am counting down the days until. I caught myself shaking my little bon-bon to some tunes the other day. These are the signs and they are opening up my eyes (90s tune? come on!).

I feel even better when I look at the calendar for rest of my year. This three-week break is going to sweep October right from under my feet. By November, I’ll be ready for some routine again and I have a few things planned on the weekends like the American Women’s Conference, a hopeful English camp type activity at my best friend’s site, and then, of course, my first turkey day outside of the US. With November comes December and two three-day weekends, one being the King’s birthday/Father’s day ie lots of activities at school and hopefully lots of travel for this gal. Oh yeah, there’s Christmas and New Years in there too. I’ve heard that Thailand loves to decorate for these two, but I’m not sure how similar the celebrations are to ours. I think it’s safe to say, I won’t be exchanging many gifts this year and I’m ok with that. Word on the Volunteer street is that school take a week off for New Years as well, boom shaka laka. I’ll tell you one thing though, I’m going to enjoying teaching my students about this guy…

This is going to be me, forcing my students to learn useful things like Merry Christmas and Ho Ho Ho!

Luckily, 124, the next group of Volunteers comes in early January. I think they’ll provide a fresh and reinvigorating energy for us. We’ll seem like the old hats that 122 were for us and I hope I get to be a Resource Volunteer (go and give a presentation and tell them what’s the deal with this place…as much as we know anyway) for them. Australia and I will have our date with destiny and it’ll be our Mid-Service Conference after that. The days are long, but the years are short. There will be more ups and a lot more downs along the way, but right now things are looking good or they will be, eventually. Thank Buddha.

On an ending note: Happy 100th Post!!


3 thoughts on “The Thing about a ‘Down’

  1. ODE to Erin:

    You are tall and elegant, they are puny
    You know how to teach, they suck at it
    You are open to change, they just laugh at it
    You love Harry Potter and believe in good overcoming evil, They wouldn’t get it even if they could read it
    You are now bi-lingual, they can’t understand their own language when spoken with an accent
    You have experienced Impressionist art, the joy of cold weather and the taste of a Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte, they never will.
    In March, 2013 you will return to a life of relative comfort, they get to live the rest of their lives with mosquitoes, stray dogs, 150 degree weather and snakes,
    You’re gonna make it girl and they will miss you when you’re gone!

    • They tell me already that they’re going to miss me when I leave, I have to tell myself that one day, I’ll miss this too.

  2. Pingback: How Erin Got Her Groove Back « Erin Flew the Coop

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