It finally happened. The moment that I had been putting off for almost a year and a half, the moment I had been dreading ever since the first pit in my stomach planted itself there like a deadly, mind-eating virus. I quit my job. I had to, I really had no choice.
That sounds ridiculous, I know it does. I can hear my father’s word buzzing around in my head like an angered swarm, ‘You can do anything you put your mind to. You always have a choice. You are always stronger than you think’. These phrases have become both the caboose and front train car in my track of life, being the first and last things that I think in all manner of vital events that flash before my eyes. The train usually passes by me in a rapid succession of my father’s words, my own negative thoughts and ideas, spurned by a lifetime of low self confidence and Depression, therefore canceling out his words, and then those statements once again, reminding me of my failure to succeed in his silent expectations. I have always been taught to go unflinchingly into the night and press on regardless of road blocks, until I reach my ultimate goals. What my father and my family and everyone around me doesn’t understand, however, is that I permanently reside in the night, my vision blotted out by the inky black sky and intoxicating mix of confusion and fog. I’ve lived there for some years now, and that I have absolutely no f$%king clue where the road even is, nonetheless the darn roadblocks. I’m missing it all together, searching helplessly with my shaking arms outstretched so far that I can only make out the unearthly green shadows that are cast on my blurry fingers and hands.
I have a new job now, one that I do enjoy and feel that I am actually competent at. I get to go into an office every day and see folks who smile pleasantly at me and ask me to grab lunch with them. This seems normal and quite mundane, I know, but after working remotely from home for a year and a half, this has become a life-saver. I cannot explain how true I’m being when I say “life saver”. I feel renewed, with a purpose. I feel that I am actually needed and that is vital for a person in my condition. I need to feel needed.
Anyways, this job is, right now, four days a week with consistent hours. This probably seems pretty standard in your eyes, however it is absolutely thrilling for me as I was previously working on a as-needed basis. Needless to say, I am not receiving as much uninterrupted rest as I was before, which means that I am increasingly exhausted on a regular basis. One thing that a person with Depression and Anxiety will innately know is how sleepy Mental Illness makes a person. I am ALWAYS tired, even when I am at my happiest points. The underlying exhaustion is a constant presence, almost like an unruly ghost who is hell-bent on haunting you. No one can see this presence but me, no one even knows it’s there unless I really let them see the “true me”.
The “true me” that is messy, as equally unruly as my demons, and moody as hell. I can swing from elated euphoria to dismal Depression in a matter of minutes and that is no doubt a terrifying prospect for any human to handle. That’s why we only choose the strongest, the most resilient to experience our honest selves. That’s why you clutch onto that small truth that you know about this person as a glowing talisman of their love and respect for you. You are apart of the unlucky few who are blessed with the responsibility of bringing me back from the edge because I believe in you. I believe you are on my side, and that knowledge in itself is healing. I equate it to a child falling asleep in the backseat of a car, not their family’s but someone else’s, like a babysitter. This unconscious trust is something even unbeknownst to them, however their comfort is proof. They trust you with anything, with everything, and that is why they are willing to let go.
On one of my days off I slept over my parent’s house and was so tired that I ended up waking at 11am to the sound of my father telling me to get up. He seemed unpleased, irate at the thought that his successful daughter could have the gall to be so lazy. That’s really what it is though. He grew up with a father that was raised on a farm, meaning that he was taught to rise early and make use out of the morning hours. Even now, my dad can’t sleep in to save his life. So I really can understand his point of view, I even respect it immensely. I wish that I could be that person, right now in my life, that wakes early and gets up out of bed with the refreshed assurance of a bright, new day. I, on the other hand, carry around my thoughts, my guilt, my embarrassing doings from the past, every second of every day. My mind is unfortunately reckless and doesn’t give a rat’s ass about a new day with a clean slate.
My plea is to stop this shaming for those who need as much sleep as their Depression allows. They can’t help their exhaustion, it is something they fight brutally all day until it is socially acceptable for them to relax. Sometimes that isn’t even an option. Sometimes their beds swallow them whole, leaving nothing in its wake but the stink of disappointment from those around. And if it isn’t Depression itself that is causing the tireless need for sleep, it is the medication they take that causes it. It is a necessary part of taking care of themselves, of healing a mind and soul, and it is NEEDED. Don’t think of it as laziness or lack of care, it is merely a way of survival. Sleep shaming those who need sleep desperately, who are trying to remember why they deserve to live, is incredibly dangerous. It induces an undeniable wave of guilt to wash over that person and cause them to sink further into the salty depths. Encourage, support, and love the person in your life who is suffering. Allow them to rest easy knowing that you are on their side. That you will protect their back while they attempt to reassemble their shattered pieces. That you will be there no matter what.
Keep Your Heads Up My Loves. xo B