For about a year now, when people have asked how I’m doing, I’ve been able to tell them, “I’ve never felt better!” That’s the honest truth. I don’t think I have EVER felt this “alive” emotionally. I am actually feeling and experiencing life instead of just going through the motions like I did for so many years.
When my therapist has asked me why I think this is the case, my answer has been, “steady work hours.” Once my boss finally had me working 20-25 hours a week for a consistent amount of time…about 5-6 months…I really felt my mood elevate and I became more engaged with life and the things going on around me. The medication helped, but that had not changed during those previous six months. The only thing that changed was that I finally had a steady work schedule at a level I could handle.
My boss even asked me around Christmas if I was okay with the number of hours I was getting. He had seen the difference in my overall demeanor. I thanked him for asking and said that they were perfect. So, for the most part, that’s where they have been since then. That’s one year of steady work hours…except for Christmas which always means a temporary increase in hours. During that time, my mood elevated to such a level for an extended period of time that I was able to discontinue one of my medications.
At the beginning of July, I cut my vacation a couple of days short because we had three or four staff put in their two weeks’ notice and I knew we would be short handed at Customer Service. Since I’ve been back, I’ve been working 30+ hours per week. Last week, I was at just over 31 hours. I am REALLY starting to feel the effects…more mentally, than physically.
By some miracle I ended up with a three-day weekend…that NEVER happens in retail unless you request it! I kept up a pretty good pace on Friday as I ran errands for Lafayette Transitional Housing Center as well as for myself. Saturday I cleaned a bit and took the obligatory day-off nap.
Sunday was a whole different story! It turned into a sleep-a-thon. I have not slept as much as I did in well over a year. I BARELY did one load of laundry and forced myself to vacuum just the living room area. Other than that, if I wasn’t blankly staring at the computer screen I was stretched out on the couch with my eyes closed. For most people, this would be fine…for someone with depression; it is a HUGE sign of what COULD come if it goes unchecked like it did so many times in the past.
I’ll admit; it has me in a mild worried mode. I’ve not been very successful at fighting off the depression in the past, but I’ve also never been this far removed from feeling depressed. That gives me some confidence that I’ll be able to keep it at bay. I just have to remain very conscious of it over the next several weeks.
Today on my lunch break, I made myself come up with specific, tangible things I could do to fight off the depression.
- Since I know my tendency is to isolate, I have to remain committed to my Tuesday morning breakfast with the First Baptist Breakfast Babes.
- I have to get myself out of the apartment on my days off.
- I have to keep a cleaning schedule of more than just needed laundry.
- I have to get myself to sit outside on my patio for at least 10 minutes a day.
Now, as we head into Move-In Days for the freshmen at Purdue University, I’m scheduled 40 hours per week. I only have the schedule for the next two weeks, but I’m sure the week of Move-In will be more of the same. While I’m worried about the depression, I’m really more optimistic that I can hold the depression at bay if I stick to what I listed above…primarily, I cannot let myself isolate!
It’s alright to feel ‘blah’ from time to time…it’s only natural. It’s when that takes over and becomes how I feel most days that there needs to be some change in behavior to get back to feeling ‘good’ and ‘great.’
So, wish me well in this coming month of extra work hours. The next few posts may become more like a public journal than purposely educational. You’ll just have to bear with me until I can get back to more focused writing.