When the Work Day Ends and Depression Begins
I usually wake up feeling fine. I go through my day, I do my work, talk to the people I work with and enjoy what I do. A lot. But at the end of the day, a switch in my body seems to be pushed, and my thoughts cause me to feel like a very different version of myself.
I’m driving home and I zoom through a yellow light, onto the other side of the intersection. My foot lands on the brake just as the thought touches down in my head.
“You’re terrible at your job. You’re just there because your employers feel bad for you.”
I try to shake it as I drive, convincing myself that it’s just a silly thought. It continues as I ride home. I try to divert my thoughts by turning up the music and sing obnoxiously loud. I catch someone staring at me at the stoplight.
“Nobody wants to hear you or see you.”
Embarrassed and ashamed, I turn down the music. “Why did you think you could act so carefree? You look dumb and sound terrible.”
I continue on and catch my skin in the side view mirror while I’m stopped at a red light.
“Do you actually look like that? I can’t believe you’ve shown yourself like this. Look how you’ve let yourself go.” I look away from the mirror and back at the road.
My thoughts continue to spiral. I check my phone when I get to the house after an hour drive and see no messages. I know this doesn’t really mean anything, but still my head says, “You have no friends. Nobody likes you.” My head starts to run through the calls and texts I’ve gotten that day. I start naming my friends furiously to remind myself I am cared for and loved, but it’s not working. Suddenly, I’m thinking of past relationships and friendships gone wrong. I check my phone again. Nothing.
“You’re going to be alone forever.”
I walk into my house. By now the thoughts have really taken over, but I’m still trying to fight it. I text a friend asking how her day is just to prove the thoughts wrong. I am cared for. I wait. I take a shower. I look at my phone again. No response.
“See? I was right. People don’t actually want to be your friend. You’re so weird. And clingy. And annoying. Can’t you do anything for yourself?”
I sit down on my bed and open my computer. There are things I could and should be doing. Things I was excited about doing earlier, but now seem more effortful than lifting my little red Volvo above my head. So I just lie down and pull the covers over me.
What happened? Nothing has gone especially wrong since I left work. I was in a perfectly fine mood today, but now I’m thinking that that was all just an act and this is the real me.
The thoughts continue to come in and I have seemingly no choice now, but to sit and just let it happen to me. “What am I doing?” “Is there even a point?” “Why are you thinking like this – stop trying to get attention.” “Why isn’t anyone calling me?” “Why don’t you exercise more? You’re in recovery, but that’s no excuse to be lazy.”
I start to play over the day and I slowly convince myself people just laughed at my “jokes” because if they don’t, nobody else will. I probably talked too much, everyone thinks I’m annoying. I have nothing important to say. And most of all, I am just faking it all and everyone knows it. They’re just too embarrassed to say anything. I lie there for a little bit longer.
“Why don’t you just fucking do something? You’re so lazy. You’ll never be successful this way. Your parents do so much to help you and you’re just wasting it all.”
Suddenly, my phone rings. It’s my friend calling me back from earlier. We chat about our days and then I go to eat dinner and the voices are just little echoes playing faintly in the back of my head. Am I loved? Am I worth it? Which thoughts are real? Which are fake? Will I ever really know?
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Thinkstock photo via Grandfailure