It has only been a week and I should not judge that this is how it will always be but I am honestly struggling to keep the Black Dog under control, to keep on top of the exhaustion, and to have some sort of life after work and at weekends that don’t involve falling in a heap on the couch or in bed asleep. I know I should be doing stuff around the house, I know I should be helping my soul mate more, but most of all I want my life to be more than what depression is doing to me. I don’t want to fight against the Black Dog every bloody day, I don’t want to be awake half the night because of nightmares, and because I can’t control the million thoughts going through my brain, I don’t want to have to fight exhaustion that embeds itself in me making me struggle to stay on top of what should be normal, basic stuff that everybody finds simple, yet I find way too hard.
I thought I was ready to go back to work after my major depressive episode that took my life away for more than 12 months. But what is being ready after you have been so sick? Who knows maybe I was never going to be ready! I thought I could handle the days at work, coming home being a partner and a parent, maintaining a household, having time for me, and enjoying peaceful sleep. I guess my expectations on myself are way too high, but why is just being a normal adult, too much for me?
I am doing everything I should be doing to keep the Black Dog at bay – taking my medications, taking my vitamin pills, listening to my music to calm my thoughts, resting when I can, writing to get some thoughts on paper – these things should be enough to keep me well. But I don’t feel well! I just want to be in bed, asleep or if I can’t sleep reading a book. I don’t have the energy to do the shopping, the dishes, unpack boxes, do gardening, cook, clean, do the things most adults do without thinking about it. At times this week everything has felt so hard that I have wished that I didn’t exist.
Having too put up that bloody mask to cover who and what I really am in front of strangers who will be my work colleagues every day is exhausting in itself. Pretending to be these happy, efficient, professional who can do anything and will do anything is exhausting. Trying to not think about people talking about me, judging me, having to meet and know me is terrifying, and adds to my exhaustion every day once my mask comes down when I walk through the front doors at home. The truth is I am efficient because I am manic, and the truth is I don’t want to talk to anyone in fear that will get to know me. My greatest fear is having that first sick day because depression takes me, but even greater than that is the fear that they will find out I have severe depression, and they will start to treat me like all my past employers like I can’t do my job, that I am not welcome, and that I am just plain difficult to work around. Instead of working with me to be healthy most want to work against me to make me unhappy, supporting me would be not to judge me, and to help me would be to recognise that depression is a valid illness that should be supported in the work environment. People you work with certainly won’t ask R U OK?, and definitely have no intention of starting the conversation to ensure that you are okay. For most in the workforce depression is a barrier to healthy work environments and partnerships.
Work to me is not about the money, it is about my passion to do something that means something to me, and to the community, it is making a difference, creating change. But its difficult to maintain, to keep a hold of that passion when everything that I do is such a struggle, when I feel like I am treading water in the middle of the ocean, when I find that fog descending upon me again, when I am getting lost in that maze without doors, and that Black Dog is starting to disobey me, and invade my space again.
I don’t want to become weak, I don’t want to seem moody or unpleasant to be around. I want people to enjoy me for who I am without depression, I want people to know this person, but how can they when I can’t even be that person?
I was hoping that when we moved last week, and we packed all those boxes (Moving Boxes...), that I had packed my Black Dog, I had packed depression and the emotions and thoughts that consume me, I thought I could move, but also move on with my life, start again in a new home, and a new job, and just be the person I can be without depression. I really wanted this to be the case.
My greatest fear is not being able to work, it is what I will do to my soul mate and my little boy if I get sick again. I don’t want to let them down, I don’t want to not be here, or be the person that we all hate because depression takes me to a dark place. I want to be me, I want to be able t, I want to work, and maintain everything that everyone else does, I don’t want to have these fears, feel like this, I don’t want to fear the guilt that will take over when I let everyone down again.
I know I have to keep my negative thoughts at bay, to concentrate on the good things, but its not so easy when depression is in your life, and threatens to take you away. I dream that I wake up and that Black Dog will be gone on a marathon walk, I dream there will be no fog, no maze, no hiking on a trail where I feel like I will fall off the cliff, I hope that I can work without fear of judgement, bullying, and that I am accepted for who I am and not what I sadly have to live with. I hope they don’t find out, I hope they don’t see beyond my mask, I hope they don’t get to know the real me, because my greatest fear is they won’t like who they see.
Working with depression is not easy, it is constant hard work. Beyond the mask, is the days of mania when you are way too high, pumping out work way too fast, and hiding behind a computer hoping that nobody wants to get to know me. Every day I fight with my mind, exhaustion and depression to get out of bed, to get to work, do my job, come home be a partner and a Mum, to sleep peaceful without nightmares and chocking. I struggle every day to keep the depression away, to stop that Black Dog invading my workplace as well as my home, but like anything that is not obedient, it can be a tyrant that makes you life a living hell.