A Working While Depressed Surival Guide

  1. Make yourself get out of bed and if you can’t do that, (it’s okay if you can’t) find someone who can and ask them to make you. This is something I thankfully don’t have to deal with too often, but I’ve facetimed one of my best friends to “yell” at her to get out of bed and go to work so they didn’t get fired. I’m persistent and it worked. So don’t be afraid to find a persistent friend to do that for you if you need it.
  2. Say no. I know you need the money, I do too. But that money isn’t worth anything if you aren’t here or if taking on a shift on your day off makes you suicidal. Your job will still be there tomorrow, even if you say, “No, I’m busy,” today. Playing a video game, sleeping, or doing whatever else you want is a valid way to spend your day off.
  3. Terrible customers are great storytelling opportunities. Amaze social media, (or your immediate family) with the depravity of humanity. And then when you’ve made them all laugh or gasp, grab some tissues and cry about it to get rid of all that emotional gunk.
  4. Remind yourself you aren’t worthless. Even when it feels like your job is useless and you don’t have any value, remember you’re there for a reason. You wouldn’t have your job if you weren’t providing a good or service that people need.
  5. If you can’t handle a second job immediately after getting your first, (or ever), don’t force it, (unless you absolutely have no other options). You can’t do any job well if you’re too depressed and miserable to function. If you need it, ask for help. Does it make you feel weak and embarrassed? Probably, if you’re anything like me. But it’ll be worth it in the long run.
  6. Give a reasonable level of availability. If you say you can work 24/7, chances are they’re going to give you a wildly inconsistent schedule week by week. If you need 9 hours of sleep at night to function the next day, don’t say you’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You deserve to rest.
  7. Know your limits. If you haven’t gotten a weekend off in two months, request one. You may not even know how much you need it until you have it. You do.
  8. Find out everything you can about your employer’s stance on mental health, (& any other “issue” you may have) and adjust accordingly.
  9. Have an achievable goal that’s related to you needing to keep working. This way, even if your job makes your skin crawl, you still have a reason to go. I am exceptionally privileged because a lot of my bills are paid for by my parents while I live at home. But I have a car payment, grad school savings, college debt, and soon a cat, to worry about. On the days when I want to walk out because the world is so heavy, I can’t because I have needs and goals that make it (mostly) worthwhile.
  10. Do what you need to do to stay alive. For me, this meant petitioning my parents to get a comfort/emotional support animal. For you, it might mean remembering to take your meds or cutting back on harmful/unhealthy coping mechanisms, (still working on that one…) Whatever it is, do it. For yourself, because you deserve to have a full life.

 

all of this should be taken with a grain of salt and a half – at the end of the day, you know you best and you know what you need to do to live your best life, whatever that means. Regardless of that, I wish and hope for the best for all of you.

-Julie

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Not Spoons, Not Forks, But Percentages

(7/23/17 — the irony of writing about mental illness is that sometimes you’re too mentally ill to write. And sometimes that means it takes you a solid three months to finish one post).

As I sit down to begin writing this (4/20/17), I’m resting on a solid 12%. A little over two hours ago, I woke up with 45% but in this time I’ve stopped by Starbucks for tea, walked across campus and back again, taken a Latin final, and rescheduled a meeting with my boss. For finals week, this is an average morning. But I do not have an average amount of energy for it, I have less.

When describing the effects of chronic illness to people who don’t experience them, the Spoons theory is the popular go-to. But that was created specifically to describe chronic physical illnesses and so I don’t feel comfortable using it to describe myself, as I’m someone with a relatively healthy body – brain, excluded.

So today, as I walked back from my final, struggling to put one foot in front of the other as my head grew heavier and heavier with the weight of my thoughts and internal exhaustion, I wondered if there was a metaphor just for me, (and people like me). This led me to the Forks Model, which is similar to the spoons theory, but tailored more toward mental illness. While it works and I see a lot of value in it, it still isn’t quite right to describe my experiences.

And then I realized that the way I’ve been thinking about them to myself for years works perfectly. And if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, am I right?


(continued 7/23/17)

If I’m being entirely honest, (which I aim for – especially in my writing) I pretty much never planned to actually finish this. It was a good blog post idea, but then I got tired and when I get tired it’s easier for all the hopeless “you’ll never finish that” thoughts to get in the way. But a few days ago I had a series of conversations with my parents that reiterated why this is so important to talk about.

I have felt like I was drowning ever since I moved back home, got two (2) part time jobs (though I’ve scaled back to one since) and I couldn’t explain that. I just didn’t have the energy or the words. I didn’t know what to do, and I certainly didn’t know to pull myself out of it. But last weekend I got the opportunity to house-sit a few animals, (1 cat, 2 dogs, 10 chickens, and miscellaneous tropical fish). And that reminded me, more aggressively, of how I still want a comfort/therapy animal.

Specifically a cat.

I have always wanted a cat, (I love dogs and cats, yes it’s possible). But considering how anti-cat my family (and my dog) are, I didn’t see that happening. But after last weekend I realized how I was letting something defeat me without even trying to fight for it. So I tried to fight for it. And let me tell you, I spent a good two days crying and exhausted (there went my days off) just trying to get through to my mom and dad that this wasn’t just a whim or a want, this is a need to help improve and balance out my mental state. It’s not a cure-all, but it can definitely be an improvement.

And with that came explaining the percentage system, (very roughly and not in much depth). Even on the days where I start with 100% and don’t do much until I go to work, I can end up at -20% by the time I get home. As much as I love a job that keeps me busy and connects me with people, it is one of the most exhausting things for me to do on top of the already-exhausting job of keeping my mental state in check.

A therapy animal is like a portable charger. It doesn’t necessarily have the juice to get me back to 100%, but it can get me back up there so that I’m functioning and able to take care of not only myself but the animal as well as the people around me.

This post did not turn in to what I expected it to, but I hope that it was helpful regardless of that.

Best wishes, Julie

Mental Health/General Update: 2.18.17

Friends;

I am tired. You don’t understand how exhausting it is to be this close to graduation… but not graduated.

“Never-ending” to-do lists of years past have become a joke to me at this point and I really hope that over this break I’ll be able to reorient myself and figure out what all I actually need to get done.

Best wishes to you all, and I hope this semester isn’t kicking all of you down.

-Julie

On Starting Therapy – Again

After two months of frustrating/fruitless searching, I finally started “real” therapy at the end of June/beginning of July, (thanks Michigan for hating my insurance). It’s been an adjustment and I definitely miss the ease of just walking across campus to CAPS – now I need to drive 45 minutes to therapy which takes a toll on my gas budget and my free time. But this was my closest, insurance-covered option so I definitely took it. Other than that, I don’t have too many complaints, I’m just not wholly comfortable with my new therapist. But that is to be expected.

We’ve had two official sessions so far, not including the intake session, and because they’re only 45 minute sessions, not a lot feels like it’s been accomplished. That’s pretty normal for starting with someone new though – I just have to keep reminding myself that she doesn’t have all the background knowledge of my former therapist so there’s no way she’s going to understand how certain parts of my life as a student at EMU are going to work.

All that being said – it’s going relatively well. As far as therapists go, I don’t think mine is perfectly compatible to my needs – but she is certainly not the worst or even close to it. And considering how mental healthcare works, “not the worst” is perfectly acceptable. I do hope that as we continue working, the relationship keeps improving so that this will actually be able to help me in the coming semester.

And hopefully I’ll be able to continue writing about my experiences. This was a little bit of a challenge – for some reason, my thoughts aren’t clear or organized when it comes to this therapy experience thus far. But I’m trying to push for that and find it somewhere.

Julie

30 Days of BPD – Days 7-9

So the executive disfunction has been painfully real this weekend. I haven’t really done much of anything and I certainly have not been up to making videos. Which, is a fun part of my depression that usually hits during finals week making those basically the worst times ever. 

That being said, hopefully I will have some capability of making a video tomorrow.

Best to you all!

Julie 

30 Days of BPD: Day 6

Somehow we’re almost a week done with this?! How wild is that. At any rate, this video is pretty rushed because I was working/am exhausted, so excuse that. I promise tomorrow’s will be much more relaxed and a lot less shaky. -Julie

30 Days of BPD: Days 4&5

  Aaaaaaand we’re back. Sorry for the lapse in consistent video up-loading, my roommate and I had a lot to discuss last night. But now you all get double the fun for your waiting! Like I said in the video, today has been good, better than yesterday, and hopefully tomorrow will be even more exciting/fruitful. […]