Sunday, January 18, 2009

Hope is a Thing With Feathers...

Though this post didn't start that way, it ended not so well, so I would like to warn anyone in a bad place not to read this because it could be triggering.

Back home again. My husband took me to get my nails done. They look great. Afterward, he took me to dinner at our favorite Mediterranean restaurant in town. A lovely Lebanese couple owns the restaurant who we just adore. They light up the room with their sweet, enlightening energy and it felt great to see them. Dinner was lovely as always.

It was nice to spend time with my husband like that. My daughter is at her Dad's this weekend which is a good thing because I don't like for her to see me not doing well. A few days ago she asked why I haven't been to work and I explained that I have had a lot of physical pain with my period and sometimes the depression can get really bad because my hormones are all up in the air. I wish that was all it was, but I don't tell her much. I never talk about my depression unless it gets so bad and so obvious and she needs answers. Otherwise I don't burden her with it, which I think is for the best.

It was nice to get out and live a little. I have to say that I am exhausted. At one point I got so tired during dinner I just wanted to sleep, but I reprimanded myself and tried to practice mindfulness. That can be quite difficult. A lot of times I am not mindful enough to be mindful. I wish I could visit an ashram in India and live with monks for awhile to learn with them.

My husband really wanted me to enjoy myself tonight. He can be so funny and he said a lot of things that we just laughed about. He is known to be not very affectionate and he was very sweet and affectionate tonight. It was really nice.

I called my supervisor this afternoon while waiting for my husband to finish teaching his art class. She does know that I have depression. She is the first person I've ever worked with that I told. In the past I would tell companies that I was physically ill with something because I realize most people just don't understand. I was quite afraid of losing my job because I've missed so much time this week. Not only that I haven't been at work much since the new year even though I was working from home. Perception is reality and a lot of people other than my supervisor and her boss don't realize I've been working from home so to them I'm sure it looks like I'm never there and they wonder what the hell is my problem.

She did say that people were talking about me not being there and questioning why. She doesn't tell them my problems with depression and since I have missed so much time she said it put her in a tough spot. She said that I do great work when I am there and I'm the best on her team and she does understand that I have issues, but at the same time she is afraid that it looks like she is favoring me because when she is out of town she has me do her work along with my own and lead the team. Team members get jealous and make comments when I'm not there. You would think we were in elementary school. Don't get me wrong, I do understand that they don't understand, but still, I wouldn't think the way they do if it were someone else.

The fact of the matter is that this week I didn't get my work done, I was working on a highly visible task in the project and she said it became quite political when I wasn't there and she felt in the middle of it all and didn't like being put in a bad spot. I felt terrible. I told her that her feelings are completely valid. She said that she continues to hope that I will get better but I can tell that she is running out of patience. She didn't say it, but I could hear it. I am running out of patience with myself.

She is the first person I've worked with that I really became good friends with. We go out to lunch quite a bit together and it has become obvious that people on the team don't like it because they think she favors me more. In reality she doesn't. When we go out to lunch we don't talk about work, but about our life, family, etc. We go to lunch to escape from work. She is a lovely person and a good friend. She has run interference for me in the past when I had depressive episodes. She just got promoted to a management position a few weeks ago and is worried that if she continues to run interference for me when I'm not there that it will make her look bad and they will wonder why they made her a manager.

I feel bad to have put her in this position. I told her that I will be at work Monday. It is a holiday Monday but I'm going anyway because of being so far behind. I told her that I'm going to work my butt and maybe we shouldn't lunch together until she feels ready. I could hear her relief. It makes me sad. I told her that I wasn't going to ask her out to lunch, but for her to just let me know when she wants to go. I don't want her to feel that people are talking about her behind her back and that is exactly how she feels.

Just to let everyone know, my job is not protected. I am a contractor and they can let me go at any time for any reason, even if it's no reason at all. I am not a full-time employee and do not hold the same rights as one. I am in the technology field and we are working on a project which has its first release date in a few months. It is highly imperative that the web application is released on time. I see a lot of hours coming up because the project as a whole (not just my work) is so far behind schedule. Some people have likened this last push to the release date as a "death march". If this company doesn't feel that I am producing what I need to produce they will get rid of me. They don't need any dead weight. I do not live in the technology hub of the world and it will be difficult to find another job. That is one reason why I am interviewing for a full-time position at another company Tuesday. I really want to have a full-time job in order to have better benefits and it will feel more permanent and not as precarious as my current contracting position.

I will feel embarrassed to go back to work Monday. I will feel more embarrassed Tuesday when everyone will be back from the holiday. I really wish that I could stay at home and fully focus on getting better. I wish I could afford a psychiatrist and therapist and yoga classes, walks on the beach and naps. I wish I could spend my days reading self-help books, being in groups with others, volunteering my time with the homeless, children with leukemia, nursing homes and animal shelters. I wish I could be that mother who has freshly baked chocolate chip cookies ready for my daughter when she gets off the bus from school. I wish I could be that wife who has a lovely house and wonderful meal ready for my husband and daughter. I wish my brain would get better and this depression would go away and if this isn't possible, I wish I could go away from myself.

You have no idea how many times I thought of ending it all. I have the perfect plan. I will go to work on a weekend and go into the bathroom. In a plastic bag will be letters to my loved ones. I want them to be in a plastic bag so that they don't get wet or messed up. I will take a bottle of water, wear my heavy coat that feels like a blanket, go to the bathroom and down a bottle of Ambien. Doing this will ensure that my family won't find me in this way. The floor in the bathroom is tile and that will ensure I won't mess the floor up for any reason because it can just be mopped. I thought of doing this in the woods but I'm afraid that the letters will be lost. I could mail the letters but what if the post office lost them? So, the bathroom at work is the best, I think. I do feel really bad when thinking about whoever it will be that finds me. I don't know how to get away from that.

Do you see how my mind works? I can go from what a nice time I had at dinner with my husband to eating a bottle of Ambien in the bathroom at work. It becomes tiring to think this way.....and old. Very old.

OK...let me practice mindfulness...

Breathe in...

Breathe out...

Inhale slowly...

Exhale gently...

I will get through this.

Yes, Catherine....I will get through this.

Thank you everyone for your kind thoughts and support. It means a lot to me. I hope not to let you down through this journey. I hope to make you proud. I hope to make myself proud that I got through it. I hope to get through it. I hope to really live and not just exist. I hope, and hope and hope. At least that isn't dead yet.

As the great poet Emily Dickinson said and it is my favorite quote:

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul.
And sings the tune
Without the words,
and never stops at all.


Media Junkie said...

i'm not one for comforting as i'm generally the comfortee. but know that through whatever morbid thoughts you have, your love for your dear ones overcome any feelings of self-loathing to yourself - which acts as the breaks on carrying out any plan in your head.

i know it because i experience it.

Laura said...

Depression is indeed a battle. I'm glad you got out with your husband to the restaurant. Every little bit helps.Don't beat yourself up concerning your job. When I was going through major depression I wasn't able to work at all. You're doing the best you can. Hang in there and just concentrate on getting well. Leave all the thoughts of what you "should" be doing behind. Take care of you.

John Finn said...

I haven't commented much lately, largely because I feel that I can't relate well to the struggle your facing - and comparing your condition with the times I feel disheartened and life-weary is probably patronizing and not at all accurate ... but reading this post, I can't help feeling angry.

Would your boss be such a shit if you had cancer and were undergoing chemotherapy? Would she say, "Gee, Catherine, your cancer is such an inconvenience, and I'm really running out of patience with your being sick all the time." And make no mistake, she really is being a shit. You're far too forgiving.

And would you be so reluctant to disclose your condition to others, and stand up for your rights in the situation, if it were a more fashionable disability? Taking the same example, cancer, I'm pretty sure an employer wouldn't dare discriminate or intimate threats against someone who was struggling with it. They'd have a good deal more understanding, respect, and fear for the legal consequences.

I guess that, as a contractor, you're in a bit of a disadvantaged position - you have less "rights" than would an employee in the same situation, regardless. But all the same, it ticks me off to hear you're being treated in that manner by some officious little shit of a boss who's trying to make you feel like it's your fault.

Karen ^..^ said...

I agree with John Finn, although I have also worked as a contractor, and yes, we are treated as the red headed step children as such. I am hoping so hard that you get some real help, that you won't do harm to yourself before it happens. I have a good friend who suffers from the same type of depression that you do, and as not many medications worked for him, he tried exercise,and that was the one thing that helped along with some good medications. He'd go to bed and be unable to get up, for weeks. I'm thinking that the endorphins he got from exercise were what finally gave him enough stamina to kick his depression. Then a doctor would change his meds again, and he'd have to start all over again. It is a vicious cycle, when you have depression not borne of stress, but of a true chemical imbalance. It is a physical thing, not an environmental thing. But the physical can exacerbate the environmental, and make it all the more difficult. We are all pulling for you. I hope you get well soon.

I'm Just Me said...

Hi. I just found your blog and would like to read more. I just wanted to tell you that you can't kill yourself with Ambien. You might sleep for a very long time, but you won't die. I know, I've done it. I think it would be awesome if you could find some therapy that is affordable. I know how hard it is. I am paying my own $210 a week. :(

carol gomide said...

I'm on a two-week work leave and struggling to figure out if I should go back next week or take another, longer leave. Even though I have a full time job, I'm afraid of the consequences. These days, blaming the "economic crisis" can get you away with practically anything and lots of companies in my area are letting people go.

If only everybody thought like John Finn.

I can so relate to you... even though I don't know you. And because of that I don't really know what to say. Because I don't know what to say to myself. I don't even know what I would want people to say if I could choose it.

But, on a lighter note that made my mom and I laugh during lunch, we are thinking of adopting the "salt and pepper" nicknames. I don't think they even recognize their own names anyway.


Anonymous said...

I was a contractor in the IT dept. at Discover Card (this was the 3rd shift job you've often read about on my blog) and called in often due to...well...many reasons really. Depression, definitely. The 3rd shift thing caused me to get little to no sleep, so sometimes I couldn't physically go, too exhausted. And of course, sometimes hanging out with my friends drinking at a bar was more a priority. Because I called in so much, they did exercise their right to let me go. This was in May of 2008 and I'm still not working due to this awful economy. (As you know I did have a temp, seasonal position making 1/2 of what I was making at Discover but it was only a couple month assignment and I made barely enough to get thru the holidays, I lost my house and car and am living back with my parents.) My point with all this is - you do not want to lose your job right now.

Believe me, I KNOW what you're going thru with the depression. I know what it's like to not be able to force yourself out of bed in the morning, to just want to sleep and do nothing else, to not want to have to deal with anyone or anything, to be so stuck inside your own head that you think maybe you're going to go crazy. I know. But I also know that if you lose your job, all of this will be SO MUCH WORSE. The job market is awful. I've been averaging putting out 15-20 resumes a day and in the last, say, 6 months I've gotten maybe 3 leads - all of which did not pan out. I went from making $23.50 an hour at Discover to making $11.10 at a seasonal job, and even that is over so I'm back to making nothing.

The final interview I had last week went SO GOOD, and they informed me that it was down to me or 2 others, and they called on Friday to say they went with someone else. Needless to say, I haven't been in a good place since then....I'd briefly had a little glimmer of hope that I was going to be back on track, be able to get a car and then eventually me & my daughter can get the HELL out of my parents house, and I'm back to f-ing square one AGAIN and it sucks. Depression's back full force as I feel like I'm never going to get ahead again, I feel like now I'm reaping what I've sowed and am being taught a very awful lesson about life.

For many reasons I feel disposable and worthless and it's awful. The only reason I'm opening up this much is to hopefully drive home that you need to do EVERYTHING you can to keep your job. It doesn't matter if it sucks that they're not understanding about the depression, it doesn't matter if your coworkers know or don't know or are acting like they're in grade school again. All that matters is that you keep this job because if you lose it, I know you, all of the things you're going thru and feeling will be amplified by the thousands and this is definitely something you DO NOT NEED TO HAPPEN.

Love you.

Da Old Man said...

I couldn't possibly add anything to some of the great advice you have already received.
I wish all the best for you.

Chunks of Reality said...

Mars - What a wonderful way to put it. If it wasn't for my daughter I know I would have been gone a long time ago. Sometimes I wonder if I had her young because God knew I wouldn't be living very long without her.

Chunks of Reality said...

AD - You are right. There are a lot of "should" thoughts which really hinder feeling good about myself.

Tomorrow I face work. I will make it. Thank you for your warm thoughts and support. It means so much.

Chunks of Reality said...

John - There are no comparisons between feelings in my opinion. Your disheartening feelings are just as valid and real as my feelings of depression. It all equates to pain and one is no more or less than the other.

It's very interesting that you bring up what would my boss do if I had cancer. A lady who sits right next to me at work was just diagnosed a few months ago with breast cancer. She has missed oodles of work due to having an operation to take the tumors out along with chemotherapy scheduled every three weeks. She has become increasingly sick and physically weak with each chemo and has not been able to work as much.

She is a contractor like me.

When I think about it (and I never did until now), yes she is treated differently. It has been OK if she didn't make her deadlines and the work she has been given to do is not as dependent on time. She has had quite a few allowances due to her illness and nothing has been said about it from the supervisor or others except supreme sympathy (which is what she should receive). She is never questioned where she has been when she does come into work and no one says a word about her behind her back.

When I think about it like that it does bother me. Then again, I do understand why it happens this way because a lot of people are ignorant when it comes to mental illness. They really have no frickin' clue and think that mentally ill people can just shake it off and get back to work.

Having a tumor growing out of my head for everyone to see would garner sympathy, but depression certainly doesn't. It's a lack of understanding and unfortunately when some people don't understand something they tend to judge.

There is such stigma associated with mental illness. I hate it. It certainly makes life more difficult when it's already not so easy anyway.

Thank you for your thoughts on this. I didn't think about it that way and it has certainly made me pause in thought about it all.

Chunks of Reality said...

Karen - I love your reference of contractors being red-headed step-children. LOLOL Yes, I think that would be quite applicable.

I really don't think I will harm myself even in the most dark moments. If I would do it, it would have happened a long time ago. It doesn't mean that these thoughts don't hit my brain almost every minute lately, it seems, but I really want to get through it all.

Exercise is one thing I haven't tried yet. I keep saying I will, but just haven't and I will be remedying it very soon. I have a free membership to the local gym and I plan to start using it. My husband even wants me to get a trainer in the beginning because he thinks it would be good to start out that way at first to learn how to use the machines and have someone help in the motivation department.

Thanks so much for all of your warm thoughts. It means a lot.

Chunks of Reality said...

I'm Just Me - Hi and welcome to the blog of depression. LOL :)

My gawd you have such blue eyes!

OMG, $210 a week for therapy? What state do you live in? That is outrageous but so important to do if you can.

I didn't know about Ambien not being able to kill you. It would completely suck to wake up after doing that and having to face everyone, including myself.

I'm going to pop over to your blog in a bit. Thanks for stopping by and hope to see you again.

Chunks of Reality said...

Carol - What are your cats names? They really are cuties.

Yes, if only everyone thought like John Finn, the world would be much better, I think (and more interesting!).

If you can take more time for yourself and not have to worry about your job, I say take the time when you can. I wish I could.

I wish you the best.

Chunks of Reality said...

Cheri - You are not disposable and worthless at all. It hurts to see you say that about yourself.

You are right...and you do know me very well...if I lost this job it would really exacerbate the problem so much more. Not only would I feel like a complete failure, I wouldn't be able to pay my bills which would compound the failure thoughts even more.

I am going to work tomorrow no matter what. I so don't want to lose my job and being in bed worrying about my job certainly doesn't help with the depression.

I am sorry to hear that you didn't get the job. Cheri, I know that something will turn up for you. I am sending warm thoughts your way.


Thank you for your comments. It really reminds me how much I don't want to lose my job and really I just need to get my butt there. No. Matter. What.

Chunks of Reality said...

Thanks, Old Man. Everyone gave a lot of great advice and support. I am truly blessed.

Ana said...

I just want you to know that I understand you.
It's not of great help here I am.

Immi said...

Don't go to the bathroom at work tomorrow, then, eh? *smiles* I'm sorry you're so under it all. *big hugs*

Chunks of Reality said...

Ana - Thank you for being there. It helps so very much. *hugs*

Immi - Now that I found out Ambien won't kill you I guess the bathroom is safe for now. :) *big hugs* to you as well.

Anonymous said...

I feel for you with your work struggles and your illness. It's so true that if we had cancer instead of depression, we wouldn't have the same trouble with bosses and co-workers. And depression is just as disabling, if not more so.
I'm a contractor also, and am not working enough due to anxiety and depression. Luckily I am working from home, so if I do only a few hours, I can still bill for them.
Re suicidal thoughts - please remember that this would be the worst thing you could do for yourself and your family. Nothing is more important than staying alive and getting better - not work, not house, not possessions. If you should lose a job due to illness, it is not the end of the world.
You will feel better eventually.
Wishing you well, Eileen

kw said...

Hang in there sweetie. You and I are in the same dire straits. I wish you lick with the full-time job interview.

John Quinn is sooo right. If "normal" people suffered as we do, they'd be in hospital with an IV of pain killers.

In Europe, they have a health treaty, which I have written about before. In 2005, they declared that people should be afforded holistic treatment. That a mental diagnoses should be viewed with as much compassion and care as a physical illness.

The Americas will catch up some day. Until then, I guess we'll have to cleve to each other. HUGS!

la said...

I know how much you love your daughter. I know you'd never do anything to hurt her.

I don't think the cookie-baking lady exists. I'm sad you have to go back to work before you're ready but at the same time I think it will be better for you than baking cookies =)

I am working this week and next. I'm really anxious about it but know that it always makes me feel so much better. I'll be thinking of you when I'm feeling nervous.

Take care of you xxxx

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