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What Working on My Worst Depression Days Is Like

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No matter how deep in the dark I am, how hopeless I feel or how exhausted my mind weighs, I must find the willpower to not hit snooze again, to drag my lifeless body from the sheets and put one foot in front of the other. It’s a struggle to brush my teeth after I haven’t in two days, it seems impossible to find clean matching clothes and to make my hair look like it hasn’t actually been washed in four days. This is what it’s like when I wake up knowing I must go to work.

I recently started a new job where our sick days accrue every month. I only started receiving this benefit this month so I have not built up any days. I like to think that I have a “high tolerance” for my depressive episodes and that I can push through it. Today however, I know I must fight through the haze, the fog, the helplessness, the dark, the sluggishness and the utter sadness to drive the 30 minutes to work.

I cry on my way to work, the only noises I hear are the cars flying by me and my sniffles. I have no idea why I’m crying, I don’t hate my job. I cry because I can’t hold the sadness in; I cry to let something out because the emotionlessness of what depression brings is creeping all over my body and I’m tired of feeling dark in my head and numb in my body. The thirty minute drive goes quickly. I contemplate turning around several times, I don’t want to face my coworkers on a day like today.

I sit in my cubicle not making eye contact with anyone, afraid if someone asks what’s wrong I’ll either stare blankly or burst out in tears. I wear my headphones all day with no sound coming out because I don’t want anyone to talk to me and it helps block the clicking noise from the computers around me. I can’t stand noise right now, I can’t stand light and I just want to be in my bed with my head under all the pillows.

As I push the papers around on my desk to make it resemble some sort of accomplishment, I find myself staring off into space. Someone stops by and jerks me out of my trance by asking if I’m feeling OK.

“I’m fine,” I manage to mutter without making eye contact.

“Are you sick, you don’t look fine?” They continue to pry. I know they’re just worried.

“Sure.” That seems to suffice and they walk away.

I keep to myself all day. The feeling of talking to one more person is excruciating. I have tasks that I’m not sure how to do but I defer them for another day, the effort it takes to think is unbearable. I finally leave my safe cubicle to go cry in the bathroom. I come back and reply to an email. It takes me 20 minutes to write before hitting send because of all the spelling errors and lack of focus to get it right.

The day finally ends. I’ve only cried once at work today, that was a success. My body is numb and tired, my shoulders are so sore from all the pent-up stress of holding in my emotions all day. My husband wonders why my shoulders are always so tight — this is why. Today I made it. I was a body, in a cubicle, on an almost unbearable day of depression.

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Originally published: December 15, 2017
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