Where have I been?
What have I been doing?
It’s been exactly one year since I moved to Texas. I came here with a suitcase, a carry-on, and a desire to be whole. My sister picked me up from the airport and told my mom “I got her,” and she really did.
When I got to her house, my new home, I showered and went to sleep. It was the first time I had a good night's rest in months; the first time in a long time that I felt safe. In the months prior, I had been dealing with an ungodly amount of anxiety which eventually turned into depression. I wasn't sure why this was happening, but I was being crushed by the weight of it all. So, I made an unplanned move to TX... and it saved my life.
I was not desolate or destitute. Before becoming depressed, I was living my dreams! I'd started my dream job at Temple University just seven months before I went out on sick leave. I was also dating someone I believed to be "the one," preparing to move into a gorgeous new home in Cherry Hill, NJ, and publishing like nobody's business. But then...
One morning as I was driving to campus, I felt an overwhelming sense of fear. I was talking on the phone to my spiritual mother, and I began to cry. She asked what was wrong and all I could utter is "I'm scared!" I had no idea what I was afraid of. I'd been teaching at the university level for the past 10 years. I'd taught for UCLA, Rutgers, Penn, and Widener. I love teaching; I didn't have any reason to be afraid. And I was on my way to give a lecture to maternity nursing students. I could teach maternity in my sleep, with my hands tied behind my back. But this day, something was wrong.
I pulled into the parking lot and began to sob. Why was I crying? What reason did I have to be sad? I got myself together as best I could and made my way to the lecture hall. My heart was racing, but I had to get through the lecture. Toward the end of the class, I had the students do an impromptu group activity. That gave me a little breathing room, but the anxiety never completely went away. Class ended, I gathered my things, walked back to my car, and broke down in tears. By Monday morning, I was in the hospital.
The next few months are a blur. I hopped on a plane and went to California to stay with my mom for a month; then, she came to Philadelphia to stay with me for another month. For a solid eight weeks, I spent 24 hours a day with my mom. Being with her was comforting, but I still didn't feel like myself. My anxiety was slowly fading away, but the depression was coming on quickly.
While off on medical leave, I pulled out of my home purchase contract (with literally weeks till closing) and called all of my vendors to let them know I would no longer be moving into my dream home. I lost money on housekeeping services, an appraisal, and movers. I knew that remaining in Philadelphia away from my biological family wasn't the best option, so I called my sister and she told me to come to Texas.
New Home, New Me
My first few months in Texas were interesting. Almost no one knew where I was and I wasn't busy doing things, as was my usual M.O. I spent my time going to doctors' appointments and trying to learn the lay of the land. During this time, my sister and I got to know each other as adults. It was the first time in our adult lives that we lived together... or even lived in the same city. We watched multiple tv series together, ate all of our meals together, and went shopping together. We spent every waking hour of every day together for about four months. It may not sound like something to be desired, but for me, it was a blessing.
After not working for more than five months, I decided it was time to get back in the swing of things. So, to keep myself busy and ease back into working, I volunteered in my church administration office Monday-Friday. I spent the entire month of August and the first week of September making phone calls, copying handouts, filing documents, and whatever else I was asked to do. This gave me the opportunity to meet lots of people and learn more about North Texas. I also got the opportunity to accompany various Pastors and office staff as we handed out checks to local community organizations in celebration of our "DFW, We Love You" campaign. All in all, I was falling in love with my new home.
In the fall, I accepted a job offer to work as the maternal program coordinator in the women's services unit of a small community hospital just outside of Dallas. I absolutely love my job! I get to incorporate my clinical knowledge, research skills, and heart for patient advocacy into what I do every day. I never would have imagined I'd be back in a hospital setting, working in scrubs on an L&D floor, but alas, here I am and I'm loving it!!!
Back and better than ever!
I am relaunching my blog because, well, I have things to say. I've been through a lot mentally, spiritually, and emotionally, and I did not endure all of these hardships and successes for my benefit alone. Just as I blogged my way through my PhD program, and began blogging about life as a Black, Christian, woman in academia, I want to continue blogging here. But this time, it's going to be a little different, because instead of me being the focus of my blog, YOU ARE!
I want you to journey with me as I embark on the next phase of my life and career. I want to bring you along with me, and in turn, I want you to bring me along with you. As a PhD student, I may have been taking hold of my dreams, but now I'm helping you to take hold of your own!
I have a lot of experience in clinical nursing, nursing education, qualitative and quantitative research, article writing, journal editing, community engagement, policy work, and advocacy... you name it, I've probably done it. My life is most fulfilled by giving back to others. This blog is one way in which I plan to do just that. So, come along with me for the ride. I'm back and better than ever. Only God knows what my and your futures hold. Let's find out together.
Peace and Blessings,
Dr. Tiffany Monique