Here’s a little insight: I suffer from depression. You may have already known that, and if you didn’t then you do now. And in case you were thinking it, no it’s not like what the end of a miserable day feels like. It’s more like the meaning has been taken out of your very existence and your vision becomes blinkered so all that you can see is the material worth of what’s directly in front of you. This week what has been in front of me is work.
I work in the service industry and even when I’m feeling fine it can be difficult to be cheerful for ungrateful, rude and disrespectful customers, but when I’m feeling down as I have been recently then it can be just as difficult for all my customers as well as my colleagues. I put on a smile but it’s just a piece of paper I’m holding up in front of my face. I laugh, I joke, I even have a little dance with my work mates at the end of the day, but always, beneath it, I am sad. Just, plainly, sad. It can be difficult to care in such circumstances. Yesterday morning I sat on the edge of my bed for five minutes just trying to coax myself to get up and get dressed. I had to tell myself over and over again ‘other people are relying on you’. So I stood up, then sat down again, then stood up, then sat down again. I finally managed to keep myself up on the third attempt, but it was a struggle. That is a little snapshot of one of my days with depression.
I have ways of dealing with it but when I’m at work these options are limited: I can’t sit down and read or write; I can’t go for a walk with my dog; I can’t play a game; and I can’t listen to podcasts with my headphones on. All I can do is focus on the task at hand with all my being and hope that I ‘forget’ that I’m depressed, but of course, as soon as I realise that I’ve ‘forgotten’, it comes back. I keep myself busy and try not to stop for too long or allow myself time to think. But today it got too much for me, the walls felt like they were closing in, and I decided I needed to be at home. Then comes the difficult part: my work mates don’t know I have depression, and I worry what their reactions would be if I told them: ‘rubbish excuse to take a sicky’, ‘we all get depressed, just get over it’, ‘but you were laughing and joking a minute ago’, etc.
Thankfully they could tell I wasn’t feeling well just from my behaviour and, thankfully, the question was asked:
"Are you okay?"
"Do you want to go home?"
I feel bad for deceiving them all, bad for rushing out and leaving them with an odd impression, bad for making someone else finish my shift for me and bad for feeling bad, because I know it’s not my fault. I do well mostly but today was just too much and I wouldn’t have done anyone any favours by staying, but the alternative feels just as bad. Sometimes I worry if I’m subconsciously making it up so I can stay at home but, then, it hits me like a freight train and I think to myself ‘wow, this sucks’.
I don’t know why I’m telling you this.