God I’m tired. So bloody exhausted. I feel like my energy has drained out of every pore, in a continuous flow, and now that flow is near its end. It’s all used up. My body has detected this, and is trying to preserve its resources as best it can. I can barely walk. Each step is an epic feat up Everest. My lungs gasp for air with minimal effort. I worry. No. I wonder. About my heart, yet have been told it is fine. Well fine for me. It will never be fine again. It has not been fine since the age of eleven.
My mind is exhausted. I walk ten paces and stop. I don’t even know why my brain tells me to stop. Why I shut down. I just know I cease all movement, slump my shoulders, and lean against anything available: a wall, a door jamb, a bus shelter. I need support. Physical support turning to mental. Sometimes I understand it. The source of the need. Sometimes I don’t. I just know it is debilitating.
It sounds like a quintessential definition of depression. And I have depression. It is nowhere near as bad as it was a year ago. And I don’t remember these symptoms a year ago. So what is going on? Am I just having these symptoms at a different time? Maybe they are not related to the severity of the condition? Maybe I did have them last year? Maybe I was so bad I don’t remember? Last year is mostly a blur because of the brutality of my illness. I do remember some similar symptoms, but not clearly.
Apart from the typical issue of not getting out of bed in the morning, regardless of how much I’ve slept, the tiredness goes beyond that. It is unrelated to the quality and quantity of my sleep. I can sleep for nine or ten hours, and be paralyzed. I can sleep for five or six, and be able to function for a while. There seems to be no rhyme nor reason to it. None I have been able to figure out anyway. And when I am flattened, maybe sitting in the car, head against the steering wheel, waiting for the energy to push the button to start the car. Maybe hoping it will come now, or maybe now, or how about now. Maybe then I will catch eyes with someone, and start the car out of embarrassment. Then pull away, only to pull over a minute later, put the car in park, and rest my head once again on the steering wheel, all the while unsure why.
I know this is not normal. I am only realizing this just now. Seventeen months into my devastating depression. No. More. That my head is still a wreck. It is Fukushima. No. That is not fair. March 11, 2011 wrought devastation on so many people, their families, their livelihoods. I am but one. I effect one family. I had one job. I am one life. Yet I am my own Fukushima. My own tsunami wreaking havoc on Banda Aceh. And yet I feel pitiful. Comparing myself to such worldly disasters. How can I even think along that scale. If I was placed in either of those places, in either of those times, I would have crumbled within seconds, of weakness, and fragility.
I am merely me. Ingrid. Aged forty. Software Engineer by training and experience. Writer by desire. Dublin, Ireland born and raised. Chicago, Illinois molded and brought to my knees. Mother of three. Loving them dearly. Broken and battered. Holding on barely. By the skin of my teeth. Where do I go from here? Well to Rome in two and a half weeks. I am excited. In theory. I am exhausted by the thought of it. I can hardly get out of bed in the morning. When I park the car, it is several minutes until I can open the door, and often many seconds more until my foot hits the ground. While I wait for the elevator I huff and puff as I watch people run down the stairs. I always, always lean my head against the side of the elevator wall as I ride down. When I get to the bottom, I look at the lobby, and think “Oh God. Do I have to step out? Do I have to begin today?” The answer is always “yes“. And on and on the day goes.
The days like today, when the children run and play together, without beating the shit out of each other (for the most part) are wonderful. I get to sit and be tired, while smiling at them in encouragement, letting them know I truly love them, which I do, but not having to try to be physical with them, which seems so damn impossible. They had an amazing day today. I had a very difficult day. They did not seem to notice, so it was a successful day all around. At the end of the night, all five of us sat around our fire pit and talked and laughed. I was dying of fatigue, but they were just happy to have me. I smiled in all the right spaces, and asked questions when I should have. I wish I didn’t feel like I had to be a puppet in my children’s and my own lives. I do.
It’s nearly 22:30. I’m the only one who is still up. My husband works at 06:00 thirty five miles away. I have “group” at 09:30. This is my life now. Group, after group, after group. My psychiatrist was filling paperwork out for me a couple of weeks ago. It was for Long Term Disability. Back in December, one of his goals for me was that I would have a job by February or March. It was something we both were working towards. He is a doctor of the “tough love” school. He pushes me when he knows I need it. So last week on the form, it asked how long I was likely to remain out of work. He asked me, and I said he was the expert. He suggested one year. I was shocked. If that was his guess, then I am screwed. I said as much, well hinted as much, because I am crap at the whole assertiveness thing, and he put 26 weeks. If he thinks 26 weeks, then I’m basically a basket case. So I’m obviously over analyzing. Psychiatric conditions ebb and flow. Who knows where I’ll be a few weeks or months from now.
Meanwhile, it’s May 2018, and I haven’t worked a day since late December 2016. That’s a long time. If someone asked if I could work a day now, I would have to say I think I could, if the day was right. Could I work two? Maybe. Three? Eh – get back to me. Four? I doubt it. Four good days in a row seems highly unlikely. As the number gets bigger, the likelihood of success gets smaller. I could bomb on my first day, I could last until day thirty (very unlikely). The first real symptoms of my severe depression reared their ugly head in work. I am in no way blaming work on them, they just happen to show up in work. I suppose I’ll forever associate work with my depression. That awful day. Leaving work suddenly. My boss dying two days before I left work. (Miss you Bri). Me being let go because of lost time due to depression. It seems to keep coming back to that. I wasn’t particularly happy there. Although in the last year I did have the opportunity to do new things that I enjoyed more – so poor timing on the whole depression thing – stupid brain!
I did one virtual interview things last week. I either aced it or completely fucked it up. It was one of those things where if they had the same sense of humor as me, they will have loved me, if they didn’t, they’ll think I’m a dick. Pure and simple. I’ve spoken to three recruiters on the phone over the last week. I don’t really want an IT job, and the three recruiters were all IT ones, but I’m starting to make moves. I’m really scared that I will end up accepting a job, and within days of starting, realize how messed up I still am, and realize I still cannot function in a job full time. I do worry by the time I feel I can function full time, my resume will look so bad, I will be virtually unemployable.
Making a career change is scary enough when you are healthy, and have a job. I am unemployed, and have a serious mental illness. I feel like I am drowning even when I have minimal external pressure. I feel like I am swimming against the tide most of the time. I feel like I can fly for about three out of the 1,440 minutes we’re given every day. The other one 1,437 I feel like I am drowning. Sinking underneath the surface, bobbing up again, and down, and up, over and over. The only respite I feel, is when I forget reality, not when I am genuinely happy. I do not know genuine happiness. It sounds like a hollow quip, offered on a tray of rotten fruit, perfect and lush on the outside.
Many of you may know my feelings. You may have felt what I feel. Maybe not as strongly, or maybe you have, but you have felt them. You will not admit it though. You will not say out loud. I could have been her. I could have drank, cut, hung, pilled, cried, yelled, begged, slept, dreamed, hoped, wished, felt dead, felt nothing, emptied, asked for, learned, yearned, looked skyward, did everything… No. You could have. You might have been stronger, weaker, anything, everything than me. It doesn’t matter. We are the same. We are different. Pain is pain. Anguish is anguish. This shit hurts. It is awful. It rots us to our core. It is relentless. And so I sit here, on my own, drinking another Blue Moon, while my husband and my kids are in their beds. I’ve just booked a hotel and car for our vacation. I’ve just been so functional. Well mustn’t I be doing so well.
Look at everything I’ve done today. I’ve gone to group. I’ve loved my kids. I’ve picked them up from school. I brought them to therapy. We got ice-cream. We went to the park. I got them dinner. We lit the fire pit. I planned our vacation…. I wanted to cut. I did drink. I thought about suicide. I thought about calling my psych. I wanted to numb out. I wanted to be free. I wanted to be nothing. I wanted to cry into my very soul. And so these things need to co-exist. Life is not a simple thing. It will not always be good. Not always be bad. I will not be wide awake. Not be walking dead. Things ebb and flow. Right now things are tough. They have been tough for a long time. They may continue to be tough. Eventually, things will likely turn around. I will probably feel somewhat better. It is unlikely I will feel amazing, but I will feel better.
For now, I would settle for being able to get out of the car without holding my head in my hands. I would like to be able to ride in an elevator without leaning against the wall. How about not stopping anywhere where I am out of view, until I come into view: having a dead look upon my face, which I force into a smile when someone walks around the corner. I want to feel something, anything, other than blah, empty, nothing, or pain. I am done with all that. Sometimes it feels like a comfort, but now it mostly feels like a drag. An anchor pulling me down to the bottom of the ocean, while I am merely trying to bob on the surface. I’m not trying to be uppity. Trying to live above my station. Trying to be more than. I just wanna bob. Depression is just pulling me down. I just want to be me. That’s all. Just be. Nothing more. Please. Please. Please.