It’s hard to get up and go to work after four days of being off. It’s hard to find the shoes you want to wear when you keep them downstairs by the door but you thought they were upstairs in your closet. It’s hard to make a protein shake for breakfast when you can’t find a good recipe. And it’s hard to leave the house at the wrong time—it’s hard to be early and it’s hard to be late. It’s hard to get everyone out the door, and it’s hard when you can’t do everything you want to do in the morning, like make breakfast for the people you love.
Life is hard.
Somehow we keep going but that doesn’t make us heroes, or worthy of praise—it just makes us human. We keep going in the up and down days, the happy days, and the sad days. We hope we have more of the former and less of the latter. We hope, we pray, we plan, and we breathe; we make dinners and put gas in the car and get excited when a trip to Target is necessary and not needless.
Sometimes there are harder things, things that don’t involve the banal of the day-to-day but deeper things, like our hopes and our dreams. Our outlook on life. Or our depression. Getting through this latest bout of depression is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do—second only to shooting a baby out of my vagina without an epidural. That was hardest; it’s been almost four years and I still haven’t processed it completely.
This winter, I could feel myself slowly pulling away: cancelling playdates, spending more time alone, becoming short with my family, sleeping a lot. I attributed my constant malaise to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) but deep down I think I knew it was something more. I’d been on the same depression medication for about a year and a half, and I thought it was working. (As an aside, I saw a psychologist early on in this disease—like 10 years ago—and she criticized me for wanting to change medications too often. Not knowing why she thought it was OK for me to continue feeling badly when it seemed like the solution was so clear, I became confused and scared by her bullying. I stayed on the same medication because she told me to, and I started feeling worse. Eventually I stopped going to her and I had my kids, etc. But I still have that fear of questioning a doctor, and in this instance, I was afraid to ask for a medication change, even though I really thought I needed one). But it seemed like I was getting sicker. In January I had migraines more frequently than usual. In February I had the flu. I missed a lot of work, and my manager called me on it. When I realized that depression was affecting not only my home life, but my professional life, it was like a wake-up call. I couldn’t believe I’d let things get so far out of control.
I talked to my manager and decided I would tell her the truth: that I had depression. I was terrified to do this, again because of a previous experience, this time with a Charge Nurse I shadowed in nursing school. When one of her nurses called off for the third night in a row, she said, “That’s pretty typical for her. She has depression.” I knew then that I never wanted to be stereotyped as someone who can’t handle going to work because they have depression. But that’s exactly who I was, and I had to own it. I sat down with my manager and admitted I was sick, crying as I did it. But it was absolutely the right thing to do, because she turned out to be someone who helped tremendously in my recovery.
To be continued…
Photo by Markovich Photo Art.