Depression is back again with a vengeance. I’ve recently stopped one medication and started another in hopes that something new might work better. But being off the medication I relied on for so many years has brought my worst symptoms back. I feel overwhelmed by everything, even minor things, like I’m walking around with a crushing weight on my shoulders. If only I could describe it in a way that other people who’ve never experienced it could understand. When my worst symptoms return, I feel a frequent need to cry. I have no energy. I see no value in anything, wonder why it is worth living anymore. And these are things that nobody will know I’m dealing with at any given moment because I’m an expert at hiding so as not to burden other people with my presence. Also, I don’t want anybody to know because I do not want to listen to unwanted advice about the need to exercise and attempts to “cheer” me up with positive outlooks that generally have the effect of a small desk fan in a hurricane.
Five years ago I was able to wake up for work and take a five minute shower. Now, I can barely wake up. When I get out of bed, I have that crushing weight on my shoulders. I move very slowly and unsteadily, like I have a chronic hangover. Every movement requires far more effort than it should. What once took me five minutes takes me no less than fifteen and often twenty now because I’m so drained of energy. I don’t want to wake up in the morning. I am the heaviest I’ve ever been in my life because of a toxic work environment over the last four years: because I’m chronically without enough money to eat anything other than fast food or other junk food, and because the easy proximity to cheap, unhealthy food at work has led to tremendous weight gain. I do not get a lunch break, and so eating on the go is often a necessity, or eating lunch early or very late because I had few other choices. I work with people who I’d never associate with if I had any choice. People who harbor a host of toxic ideas that make me want to run away and never go back. (I do not go to work to argue politics with coworkers and will not be told that I should. I go to work because I need money, that’s it.) I could describe so much more about my work environment that is personally toxic but it doesn’t matter. This is the best it is going to get for me right now, and that’s what is so difficult for me to accept because I know I’m capable of so much more.
I daily relive my failures. When my depression symptoms hit hardest, this becomes quite disabling. I relive my failures, thinking endlessly about what I could have done to change the outcomes, about how much I wish I could just remove myself from the personal hell I’m living now and start over. This often leads directly into the chronic feelings of needing to cry. The crushing weight hits me every two weeks when I get my paycheck and watch it disappear as fast as it deposited into my bank account. Whenever I read about other people suffering from depression being told that they must allow time for themselves, to do what they love, I laugh to myself long enough for it to turn to tears. Nothing that I want to do or love has mattered in a really long time. I’ve heard of coworkers taking “mental health” days. I cannot fathom this phenomenon. A “mental health” day because just need a “break.” Do they have paid mental health years to help me get my life in order?
I want another career direction, or just another job with a less toxic work environment. Because I do not really fit-in anywhere, around anyone, most work environments will unfortunately not work well for me. I’m not naive and realize that this is just something I cannot do anything about. I will never fit-in anywhere, something that autistic people live with for the duration of their lives. But I still wish I could go back to school and try again because my areas of expertise lend themselves to work environments far less toxic than what I’m stuck with now. The crushing weight of failure combined with the crushing weight of depression leaves me frequently feeling that killing myself would be the best way to alleviate the overwhelming pain. But I will never do it because I’m committed to my family, the only success I’ve achieved, and perhaps the only one that matters in the long run. I just cannot get past the overwhelming feeling that I could have achieved more. I gave up on my goals because it became obvious to me that it would require incredible sacrifice in my relationship with my partner, and would even likely require us to move elsewhere. She would have to uproot her life for me. Because of depression, I’ve never felt that anything about me was ever worth uprooting one’s life for. I’ve never felt like I “deserve” anything. I’ve always seen myself as a burden to others. I’ve never expected anyone to sacrifice for me and wouldn’t even understand it if somebody did. But this is who I am and has been since my high school years. I’ve always put aside everything I wanted because I felt like I didn’t deserve it regardless. This sounds incredibly irrational to other people, even “crazy.” But I don’t know how to think any other way. When you have zero self-worth, live in constant states of despair, how else can you see yourself? I’m not recovering from depression, I’m still living it. I just want to learn to cope better, to help me put aside feelings that I can do better, because right now I know I can’t.