Wednesday, July 13, 2011

On Depression-it's not sloth

Every morning I make a cup of coffee and look at the window, and see neighbors walking to the bus stop to commute into the city, or getting into their cars to drive to work. I miss work. I miss feeling productive. I miss feeling like a real person. I miss interacting with people, and being able to have a wardrobe to wear to work, and an excuse to put on makeup every morning. Not working has made me live in a wardrobe of jeans and t-shirts, I have stopped wearing makeup, and it's been years since I have had a professional manicure. 

It may be laziness, I live admist several retired women, most widows. They manage every day to wear nice clothes, have their hair done, even if they are going to the supermarket or the local McDonald's. Maybe it's from another generation, when women in the 50s wore dresses to do house keeping. My mother is the same way, will not leave her house without lipstick. She is aghast that I can do that, leave my apartment to do errands without lipgloss and blush. Leave in a faux turtle neck because I don't want anyone to see the stitches in my neck from the dialysis. 

Years ago, when I first started working in an office environment, a fellow co-worker told me, "Always get extra dressed up when you feel depressed". I tried that,wearing a nicer blouse and skirt, maybe some jewelry that day,  and it did work.  And by looking nice, I felt nice, and the depression eased. 

Maybe it's the same thing. Wear nicer clothes, make up to the supermarket, and you will feel better. But why? It's not like I am going to see anyone. The only men I see in the supermarket are in their sixties, or the teens that work as cashiers, and baggers. Then the depression starts talking "It's too much effort. Why bother?"

It's this kind of thinking that makes one go three weeks between washing hair. Sylvia Plath once got called out on this, and she replied brilliantly, "why? It will just get dirty again".

I tried. I went out yesterday to the Apple store to collect my computer, just back from California and fitted with a few new parts. I put on a clean white shirt with embroidery I found at the bottom of a drawer that I didn't know I had. I had on black pants, and flip flops with beadwork. And I put on some blush, eye shadow and lip gloss. 

The store was packed, and I had to ask a sales guy for a stool to sit while I waited for my computer. By the time I got it, checked it to make sure it was OK and paid for it, I was mentally exhausted. Walking the entire mall to get back to my car left me physically tired. I got home and crashed. Slept for about 20 hours, which was strange. Woke up disoriented, not sure what day it was, and just felt sick- sick in my stomach, sick in my heart.

Opening a can of Fancy Feast for the cat, I thought about my life, as I dumped the food into a clean bowl, washed out the tin and put it with the recycling pile. My life isn't working the way I thought it would be. But who's life works out the way we imagine it at sixteen?

I would have never imagined I would be crippled by ill health. And depression. And to top it all off, agoraphobia. It's not what I want.

I want my health back. I'm eating healthy and exercising in the apartment but I need to go to the gym every day. Doing exercises at home is not the same. I want to be around people-but I'm afraid. They scare me. I prefer dogs and cats. I have to get over this.

Today I received a phone call from a State agency- they want to hook me up with a social worker. I panicked and said, rather diplomatically, they should be helping someone who really needs it, especially now with all the budget cuts.

"But you need it", said the woman on the phone.

She's right I need it. I need something. I'm afraid to ask for help. I have to get over this.

I live across the street from an awesome Chinese restaurant. It's all take out, you can't eat in. They make the most wonderful Won-Ton soup, and I've always treated myself to a quart of it a week. At 2.45 it's a bargain. The owners know me and like me, they always through in a fortune cookie or two on the house.

On my way home from the Apple store, I stopped there and bought a quart, which was to be dinner that night. I put it in the fridge when I got home, but had to have the cookie immediately.

The fortune went like this:"Those who help, help".

I put it on the keyboard, and shut the laptop, forgetting all about it, until this morning. There it was in on the computer keyboard, lying where I had put it. "Those who help, help".
I had just gotten off the phone with the woman from the State who wants to arrange help for me getting mobile. Help me I'm not use to getting help. I've always been independent, or tried to be.

"Those who help, help". 

Help. I need help. Asking for help can't be too bad, after all "help" is a title of a great song by the Beatles.

Eureka. She is going to help me. By doing so I will help her!

"Those who help, help".

I'm going to ask for help for the first time in a very long time. I think I can do it now.


Calling In Sick Today said...

Great post. Strange the way things play out... where we find inspiration and how the dots seem connected sometimes.

susan said...

Hi Med, it is amazing. Is it synchronicity? Not sure, but it is amazing how life works out sometimes.

Unknown said...

Susan- at least you dress better at home than I do- for me it's sweats and clothes with holes on it!. I know what you mean about missing work- I miss it to, getting up ever morning and having purpose to my life.
It takes courage to ask for help and you are to be admired:)
for me it's sweats and clothes with holes on it!. I know what you mean about missing work- I miss it to, getting up ever morning and having purpose to my life.
It takes courage to ask for help and you are to be admired:)

Astral Samurai said...

its strange a lot of my core friends have gone by the wayside and my psychiatrist has become my only real friend now. Granted I'm getting out more, exercising, eating less but I still feel as if something I'm saying or doing is keeping people away. That hurts a lot.


Calling In Sick Today said...

Hey Susan, thank you for the lovely message you left me. Good to meet you. I just wanted to let you know that you inspired my latest post. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I hardly remember what it was like to work anymore. . . been disabled a long time. But when it is 30 below zero, I do remember how horrible it was to go out and scrape the car windshield at 6 AM.

I have a social worker, (OK, technically she is not a social worker, but her help is thru that department) which I don't seem like I need one, but I will say that her help is a greater relief than what I get from my psychiatrist or counselor, because she can help with practical stuff. Mine helps me with menu planning and has helped with paperwork. She provides emotional support. She teaches me about managing anxiety or conflict etc. sometimes she gives my husband suggestions on coping with my bipolar disorder.

My brother gets help with his voluminous paperwork, since he is on SSI and foodstamps. His worker has helped him with filing his papers, finding doctors, etc.

All the mental health social worker type people I have ever worked with were very nice people who took the job because they like to help others.

So good luck with that!

midnight rainbow said...

Man, do I know that fear. That Great Big fear of asking for help. It took me five years and 3 strong desires of wanting to die to finally start counseling. I found I couldn't do it on my own any more and I am not one to ask for help, but after 3 sessions, it was the best thing I have ever done for myself. I walk in with butterflies, but I walk out with more of myself. It is simply amazing.

It takes a whole of courage to ask and receive help, but it is worth it. :)

Unknown said...

I'm right there with you about work. I recently went through all my "work clothes". Such nice things I have no place to wear, most don't fit anymore anyway. It was far more difficult to let those things go than I thought it would be. It's like admitting I will never work in a law firm again. If a I do work it'll be in a place with a uniform or where jeans and Ts suffice. GOOD ON YOU for asking for help

Adam said...

Great post... Good luck as you are asking for help. I think we all need a little help sometimes, especially when depression has us in its hold.

Fibromyalgia and Faith said...

This was a great post. I enjoyed reading it and felt like I identified with you on a few different things. I don't really get dressed up anymore, but I should try it again. I also have had episodes where my husband wonders if I'll ever wake up (the 20 hrs of sleep). Thanks for making me feel human!

The Blue Morpho said...

A very moving post. I totally get the struggles of trying to face the day with dignity when not working, and not even leaving the house. You are right on asking for that help, we all need it, MIs or no. Do whatever you can for yourself, because you really do deserve it. We all do.

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