There may come a time when I don’t reblog this post but that day is not this day.
Not quite a Formal Friday? Semi-Formal Friday? I guess? Hush up I do what I want.
I don’t like the way this makes it seem like women become hysterical and make bad decisions whenever they get their periods, all that really happens is some cramping, possible IBS-esque symptoms, and flucuations in energy and hunger. I know it’s a joke but so are “Oh! are you saying this cuz you’re on your period?” jokes.
DAT SHAI HULUD!!
"Sorry, I can’t come in today, I’m too depressed."
This isn’t something you can say to an employer. You don’t get to take a day for yourself, away from pressures and responsibilities, due to the impact of a mental illness. If you can’t find any other way to cope, then you have to lie about it, or at least omit the truth. It’s not like having the flu or a broken bone or something infectious. It’s a completely internal, invisible challenge, and we can’t show people what we’re trying to overcome.
Nor can we predict what days will be good and which will be bad. You can go to bed completely fine, upbeat even, and wake up the next morning feeling like you’ve been squeezed out of some black, disgusting orifice into the waking world without your consent. You remind yourself to breathe, willing yourself to move, to get up, to do things, but all your body does is lay there. It takes more effort than you care to admit to even get out of your bed, let alone set about accomplishing anything with any degree of speed.
"I can’t do this meeting on Tuesday, I’m going to be feeling a lot of existential angst and profound loneliness. How about next Wednesday? Does that work for you?"
Understanding is difficult to convey. I don’t want to equate depression or bipolar disorder with lupus or fibromyalgia or endometriosis in any way save one: we don’t look outwardly sick, but internally we may keenly feel a step away from death. Even on good days, the victim can feel the pressure of the condition on the borders of their mind, chemicals simmering to the point of boiling over, and it’s all one can do to maintain focus away from that vector of destruction, pointing towards something positive.
Worse days, like today, require even more effort just to get anything constructive done in anything resembling a timely fashion.
Again, this is difficult to relate to others. Especially those in authority. Deadlines are often seen as absolute, set in stone, inviolate under pain of death. Pressure and expectations are high. An office environment can provide the benefits of camaraderie and support through health and financial rewards, but it can also amplify our fears and our self-doubt. We know that we have bills to pay, medication and therapy to pay for, hobbies to support to keep ourselves sane. We don’t want to slack or even to be seen as slacking. Yet the fog rolls in and the pressure builds to the breaking point and we become paralyzed.
This is not easy. And it will never get easier. The struggle continues. I can say that, on my current medication and with my wonderful and patient therapist, I’m in better shape now than I have been before, yet I still find myself wrestling with the dark winds that blow through my head and threaten to knock me on my ass. Mental illness is a lot like the wind: you can’t see it, but you can definitely see its effects. Even if the snot’s not running and your skin isn’t peeling and your hair isn’t coming out in clumps, you might feel like you’re falling apart, straining at the seams, this close to completely disintegrating if you can’t keep yourself together.
It’s a fight, and we fight it every day. We swing and wrestle and kick and scream our way through our days, and when we get back home we’re exhausted, sometimes without really knowing or understanding why. We try to cheer ourselves up and find ways to relax, and go to bed just praying that somehow, tomorrow morning will be different.
I don’t mean to generalize, but I get the impression I’m not alone in dealing with depression in this way. I think, in a way, I have to maintain that impression, even if it’s illusionary. The interior surface of my brain is a closed loop, and if I don’t believe in those outside of myself being able to at least partially grok what it’s like in here, the loneliness would tear me apart.
Even now I’m struggling with guilt. I feel like I’m wasting my time. No, wait, not my time. My employer’s time. Time is money, friend! There’s work to be done, important work! So stop feeling so down, pick yourself up by your bootstraps, and get yourself into the mill! That’s the American dream!
I kind of want to punch someone when I think those thoughts, not going to lie.
But I have to get this out of me. I have to. It’s a pressure-cooker inside of me, and if I don’t twist the release valve every now and again to take some of the pressure off, the shrapnel alone will do untold if not fatal damage. It’s important for me to understand, to be understood, to know that this won’t beat me and I’m not alone in dealing with it and what I feel right now cannot and will not last forever. It will get better. It has to get better.
Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. But soon, hopefully soon, it will get better.
Today, though, I have to pick up those bootstraps and march myself to where I’m expected to be.