Depression – my struggle.

I don’t know how to feel about it. On one hand, the prospect of a worse case scenario in this situation almost excites me. On the other hand, I would quickly be tossed into a reality of uncertainty, left to my own devices as to the direction I’d head. Which is troubling, considering I’m the one who got myself in this questionable situation to begin with.

So over the past year or so, I’ve hit a low point in my life. Now, my life has always consisted of valleys and peaks just like everyone else, but unfortunately, those peaks don’t come as often as the valleys, and those valleys stretch much lower than most. Depression is something I’ve struggled with nearly my entire life at this point, and the past year it got to the point where I was needing help.

I wouldn’t come into my job – no call, no show. When I actually was at work, I was a husk of myself, just staring at the screen for 8 hours, counting away the seconds til I could go home and crawl in bed, unable to go to sleep due to the worry about how poor my performance was at work for the day. Rinse, repeat.

I stopped hanging out with my friends, stopped participating in any of my hobbies, stopped taking care of myself — simply trying to self medicate my way to happiness. I would stay up to late, have no energy all day, and be unable to fall asleep at night. Things had gotten bad. Eventually, work started to care. Over the past year, I have been written up 3 or 4 times for my behavior. The last time, I was sure I was to be fired, but luckily, my union rep asked if I had any sort of depression history or anything that might explain this erratic behavior of mine.

That simple question flipped the switch.

The weird thing for me, is that depression is almost sneaky. It washes over me, so slowly that I don’t seem to notice. Like easing yourself into the cold pool an inch at a time. You don’t get that jarring sensation of temperature difference, you just slide into the water and become one. Depression was like that for me. Often times, I don’t notice it creeping up all around me, tangling itself around every fiber of my being, until it has carried me off and I’m content to just float away, oblivious to what is happening.

But, if I am somehow made aware of it, as I was in this situation with my union rep, I can begin to focus inwards and start analyzing my thought patterns. Start paying attention to my actions, and am able to discern that not everything is going well. I’m able to fight back, and not let myself get carried away by the apathy and lethargy.

So I resolved to fight, once again. Informed my work of my depression history, vowed to seek out help, and actually followed through. One cycle of medication and several therapy sessions later, and it’s like night and day. I’m not feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of simply being in a grocery store. I’m not held down with the anxiety and fear of judgement from others. I’m not burying myself in negativity. Instead, I’m living my life again. Throwing myself into my hobbies. Meeting new people and actually striking up conversations with strangers. Enjoying myself. Smiling more. Laughing often.

Life feels good again, and my only regret is that I took so long to get it figured out and seek help. I always had reservations about medication. I had been on it once before when I was around 20. I was attending college at the time, and ended up dropping out due to depression and the related anxiety. Went on meds, but quickly weaned myself off because I wanted to be “me” still, and didn’t think I needed the help.

Obviously, I’m not afraid to say that I do need the help anymore. Depression is such a heavy thing that simply weighs on you, day in and day out. It’s always hungry, trying to feed itself at every opportunity throughout the day. So the medication and therapy have been embraced this time around. I want to make sure I don’t spend another second scared of life, actively going out of my way to avoid living. Existing is not living, and I was doing way too much of the former. I want to seize this new opportunity and make the most of it.

So, that being said, I’ll come back around to my initial point. I don’t know how to feel about my upcoming situation. While I thought I was in the clear with my job, it turns out I have ONE more hearing. And I can’t help but think it will end in me being fired. How can it not? They have run out of ways to discipline me, and even with the knowledge of my depression this time around, I can’t imagine they’d go through all this trouble just for another slap on the wrist.

So I fully expect to get fired. And I’m oddly excited by that prospect. I would focus on running and writing, looking for jobs in areas I find myself drawn to (radio) and not just doing a job for the money/benefits. I would check my status as a student at the local college, see about enrolling again for some creative writing / English classes, etc. There are plenty of things I would be excited to take part in.

But on the other hand, I’d be getting fired. I’d be losing my benefits and steady paycheck. I would become a failure in a sense, and I constantly worry how that would reflect on my father, who works for the same department, but as a director. If he ever wanted to keep moving up, would the fact that his son couldn’t even hold a job in the department matter? Would I be shaming him? I know I shouldn’t worry about these things, and that, at this point, I have no control over what happens. I just wish I did.

I just wish I had gotten help a little sooner, as to avoid this (what I assume to be) final disciplinary hearing. However, no matter what happens, I know I have to just keep on keeping on. I know that I have to constantly ground myself in the present moment and ask, “what can I best do, right now at this moment, to better my situation?” That is all we have, after all. I can’t dwell on the past and I can’t worry about the future. I just have to focus on what can be handled at this present moment in time.

In fact, if I do indeed get fired, I need to be thankful at the timing of it. Right now, I feel like I’m on an upswing. My head has been clear, moreso than it has been in years. My heart feels full, and my brain has been coming up with some pretty neat ideas (especially revolving around a book idea). While I was worried that the meds would stifle my creativity, the opposite seems to have happened. Instead of the harsh inner critic shooting down every idea I had, my ideas have been nudged encouragingly into the open, and I’ve been able to explore them and open up my imagination, inhibition free, for the first time in a long time.

So, for all of those out there dealing with depression, anxiety, and other issues — realize that it’s never too late. Don’t be content to simply coexist with your affliction, take ownership and initiative to seek the help that you deserve. I’m looking at everything as a learning opportunity now, whether I fail or succeed, and I’m all that much happier for it. I can only hope that you can find the same peace in your life.

Consistency is the key to success in life. Anyone can lift a weight for a day, stop smoking for a day, write for a day, run for a day, perform well at their job for a day, suppress negativity and embrace positivity for a day, etc. But can we do it day in, day out? Can we make the choice, each day, to better ourselves? That consistency is what I strive for. I don’t want to look back on this post and yearn for “that time I felt good, even in the face of uncertainty.” I want to be able to look back at this post and think, “man, and it only got better from there.”

 

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