Depression Marathon Blog

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Diagnosed with depression 19 years ago, I lost the life I once knew, but in the process re-created a better me. I am alive and functional today because of my dog, my treatment team, my sobriety, and my willingness to re-create myself within the confines of this illness. I hate the illness, but I'm grateful for the person I've become and the opportunities I've seized because of it. I hope writing a depression blog will reduce stigma and improve the understanding and treatment of people with mental illness. All original content copyright to me: etta. Enjoy your visit!

Saturday, August 5, 2017

The Liar and the Fake

"This is hard." Those were three of the very few words I was able to utter to my psychiatrist a couple of days ago. I saw her first thing in the morning. I was slow, and quiet, and tearful. I felt so heavy it was difficult to move. Literally. It took maximum effort just to look her in the eyes. Depression, right now, is very hard.

Yet, despite the heaviness and tears, and despite the lethargy and hopelessness, I somehow showered, got dressed, drove 30 minutes, and went in to work just a few hours after my appointment. I'm only allowed to complete overdue paperwork, so I was there just a couple of hours and mostly interacted with a computer, but how did I do that? I felt like a liar and a fake.

As if watching myself from across the room, I wondered, "Who is that woman?" It was strange. Who was that woman interacting with coworkers, cordially, certainly not effervescently, but still a world away from how I'd been feeling and functioning otherwise. It was strange but necessary.

There is a time and place for everything, and I don't think work is the appropriate place to fall apart or weep on shoulders. I'm not looking for sympathy. But sometimes I'm able to pull off an outward appearance which is so dichotomous to what's actually going on, it's quite amazing. And I don't know how I pull it off. And is pulling it off a good thing? I don't know.

While I'm glad I was able to work, to defy this illness for a couple of hours, it didn't necessarily feel good. It felt strange. I felt disconnected from myself. I felt like a liar and a fake. And it absolutely zapped my precious energy. When I left, by the time I got from my building into my vehicle, I was tearful and spent. The aftermath of performing above and beyond how I was feeling was exhaustion. I collapsed when I got home.

Today my energy continues to be low, my mood lower. But I did defy depression again today. Somehow I actually got out of my house and rode my ElliptiGo. I figured, "Why not?" With no impact, I was able to strengthen my legs and expand my lungs for the first time in 11 weeks. And you know what? It was hard. It was very hard. And dammit, I didn't care.


Anonymous said...

Hi Etta,

if you feel really bad inside, but tend to appear normal on the outside towards colleagues and the like, it seems like an act you are performing - which must be exhausting. Why can't you just be at least 80 % depressed on the outside while acting the last 20 %. Are you afraid of what people might think? I mean, I can totally sympathize, I believe the acting comes naturally to many depressed people, but I find that the less I try to put up a fa├žade the less energy I need around people...

All the best,

etta said...

@ Kai: I believe you've missed a couple of points. To say why don't I just "act" depressed 80% implies very purposeful behavior on my part. I wasn't "acting" at work. I just was. And yes, of course it is protective to appear like I'm feeling better than I actually am. I was there to work, not to weep on shoulders and have the focus turned to me. Like I said, there is a time and place for everything, and I don't believe work is the place to fall apart. When I get to the point where I can't fake it, that's the point when I no longer go to work. Also, my coworkers, and all those around me, are very aware of my illness. If I was afraid of what they thought, as you suggest, well writing this blog, making videos, and speaking publicly would be strange ways to show it.