As with most major life changes there are great joys, but also some lows.  This is simply natural when adjusting to big changes.  Moving and adjusting to New Zealand has been no different.

I absolutely love it here.  This place has everything we hoped and dreamed for our daughter and ourselves, but I would be lying if I said I haven’t had any struggles since the move.  Our arrival at the beginning of November marked the start of the longest period of my life not employed since my first year of law school (and before that I had steadily held a job since the age of 15).  Initially I had planned to keep busy for the first few months by being a full time mom because we weren’t going to enroll our daughter into a preschool until after the holidays, that is until we very quickly realized how much he needs the structure and social interaction of school.  So, by the start of our fourth week here she was in pre-school full time.

So, here I’ve been, for a few months now with my daughter in school, my husband at work, and for the very first time no job and no real focus.  I had been accepted into a Master in Public Health programme at the University of Auckland, however the term doesn’t start until March.  I arrived on a full work visa, so I’ve been waffling back and forth about searching for employment or going back to school.  Initial job hunting and networking proved frustrating, while everyone has been impressed with my resume, it’s not New Zealand experience.  However, thinking about going back to school riddled me with guilt about the expense – while tuition for permanent residents and citizens is much cheaper than in the US, international students such as myself pay a lot more.

All of this waffling back and forth left me feeling unfocused, and demotivated.  I’ve had more free time than I’ve ever had and yet I’ve accomplished very little.   Without a direction to move in it becomes so easy to just stand still and move no where, figuratively and literally.  Instead of working out, I sat at home; instead of exploring our awesome new city, I sat at home; once I realized showering and eating were feeling like a chore I realized that this feels all too familiar.  This inertia, the cluttered mind, the lack of focus and motivation, it’s all part of the deep dark hole of depression.  Thankfully I am still on medication which is probably the reason I was able to see the problem before it got too deep.

I know myself well enough to know that I need a purpose and focus, I need to be busy.  Too much free time is a bad thing for me.  The first decision I had to make was whether to pursue my MPH, or employment.  If you know me you know my passion is maternal health issues.  My career up to this point has been health policy in a broad sense, making my desire to transition into a maternal health specific role difficult.  Weighing my options I  realized the MPH route, although expensive, provides me the best opportunity to redirect my career in the direction I really want.  I now have the opportunity to pursue research on maternal health.  Specifically, I hope to focus my thesis on community based, woman focused, interventions for pregnant women dealing with substance abuse and/or mental health disorders.

Making the definitive commitment and decision to pursue my MPH and to use my research to follow my passion was the first step to digging out of the dark hole I had slipped into.  However, I know how my first year of law school went, and I know I need more to keep me busy.   So, here I am looking at this little blog and realizing that I can use this space to become my voice and a platform to talk about motherhood – the highs and the lows – , pregnancy, post partum depression, women’s health issues, etc.  And, with my new access to scientific journals, hello PubMed!, I can create well sourced and informational content.  I want this space to be a community for women and mothers, a judgment free zone to come together and support each other.  So please feel free to comment, give me suggestions for content, or let me know if you’re interested in guest posting.

When you’re inside a depressive episode it can be so hard to see the light, and taking that first step feels impossible.  But after you take that step, the second is a little easier, and the third, fourth, and fifth are even easier until eventually you find yourself out of the hole and back into your life.  Listen to your friends and family, think about the things that bring you joy and give you purpose, do whatever it takes to dig out of the dark.