Occasionally, I ask myself, as a person suffering depression – albeit medically managed – whether I am in the right job out here in a remote community far from everything I have ever known. The black dog does get me down periodically. My job is simple enough on the surface, but it is more important than some realise. My role is to help and support at-risk children, try to keep them out of trouble, encourage them to attend school, and show them that there can be a worthwhile future for them. I am not a child minder or entertainment officer, though both those activities are tools I use to start a conversation once I identify those who most need my encouragement or support.
My community kids are a constant reminder of how well-off I am and have always been. They keep me busy and can be very demanding, but if things get too much, my hours are flexible enough that I can take a break, rest my legs and carry on later. Sometimes I work 9 to 1, nap until 3 and continue into the evening. Unless it is very cold the kids are usually out until 9 or 10 at night. Give them some balls, play some music, and they have fun without mischief. I can usually find a moment to talk to those I need to while the others play. The freedom I enjoy in how I go about my job is one of the best things about it.
I have learned however, that I must partition off that part of my life and keep some time for myself. I need to be able to get away and explore the countryside – and my thoughts – alone, except for my dog. It is good that I can have time alone. My own time is important. I cannot be working every day, all day. I get along very well in my own company which is an essential skill. Even when I am down, I prefer to deal with it alone. Misery does not always love company. Not that I am miserable very often. I remind myself that my record of getting through bad days, so far, is 100%. When things start to get on top of me, I am free to take a break. Even so, I feel almost guilty when I return to a well provided and comfortable home with clean sheets on a warm bed. Something not everyone out here has.
There are always the little golden moments that make the darker ones go away. Today I cooked a barbecue. My little six year old admirer came up to me with a mouth full of sausage and bread with tomato sauce, and said ” I love you Mr Alan”. I know she means it.