Mental Health

Stand on the escalator

Today I woke up and didn’t want to go work. This happens a lot. I stayed in bed until the last-minute and that turned into another five and another five. Suddenly, it was 8:35 and I was supposed to be at work in ten minutes. I wrote my HR person that I had accidentally turned off my alarm. That was sorta true. I had just kept resetting my alarm.

Sometimes I wonder what it would take to draw disability benefits.  Would it matter that I have been able to work almost continuously since college (i.e. over 13 years)? One of the main criteria for obtaining social security benefits is decompensation.  Basically, it consists of a decline in overall mental health in a person who was managing their mental illness until that point.  One important factor in getting benefits, however, is documenting this decline. To qualify for benefits, you have to meet a bunch of criteria.  They will check your medical records and verify.

I do have a perfect stressor, my mom’s recent passing, but I am well enough to write this article and can do a pretty good job of convincing people I am stable.  (Although, I think I could also do a pretty good job of convincing people I am not. I have fooled psychiatrists about the level of my depression before.)

When I finally got off the bus this morning (It was nearly 10 a.m.), I didn’t have the energy to power walk up the side of the escalator. You know those people. The ones that get pissed if you are standing on the left side of the escalator blocking their frenzied ascent to their destination. Usually I am one of them. I am always running late or barely going to make it on time. Today, I just stood on the right side. I didn’t have the energy.

But, then I got to work and although I was exhausted, I made it through the day. Taking it hour by hour. Putting even small things on my to-do-list so I could have the satisfaction of looking at the list and seeing items crossed off.

I have to remember these symptoms of apathy or depression happen to everyone, not just those diagnosed with a mental illness. It’s normal. Grief causes it. Job dissatisfaction. A night that kept you out too late. The important thing to remember is to allow yourself to have these days.

My mom passed away two weeks ago and it has rapidly accelerated my desire to make some changes in my life. The important thing though is you can’t rush the process. Don’t run to work. Don’t lose your temper. Don’t rush through your life. Allow yourself time to relax. To process.

Stand on the escalator.

There are many cases of individuals who are experiencing heavy decompensation due to a sudden stressor or an unsuccessful treatment plan.  My case is not clinical depression but I have at one time or another experienced many of the classic symptoms: social anxiety, chronic pain, loss of sex drive, lack of motivation, fatigue etc. I am determined to not make these symptoms dehabilitating. They have been in the past. I am planning to get a therapist to make me accountable for the goals I am setting for myself. 

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