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We Get the Job Done
Well, sometimes the blows just keep coming, and what are you supposed to do? Maybe it’s a divorce, or job loss, or a friend betraying you, or you got rejected some other way. One thing’s for sure, you didn’t see it coming, and maybe you still don’t even understand what happened. These patterns can be difficult because it’s easy to believe that if the same thing keeps happening to you, you must be the problem. If all these people keep walking away and pushing you out, or simply losing interest, there must be something wrong with you. Surely those dozen or so people you’re recounting must know what they’re doing. Surely it’s not possible for it to happen so many times and for you not to be the problem.
I don’t have the answer for you. Maybe you are the problem. But the thing is, are you taking that to heart, or rejecting and betraying yourself as much as they are doing it to you?
One thing that I find difficult about my ADD, especially when it interacts with my borderline, is that I say I lot of things that I know I shouldn’t say. I constantly have to be checking myself after interactions and wondering, “Am I the asshole?” It’s a valid question when these interpersonal problems seem to pop up out of nowhere. Surely everyone isn’t gaslighting me, right? Surely they’re not making up these accusations of harassment, unpalatable personality, and general unsavoriness? We try to counter those thoughts with evidence such as the people who really do want to be around us. But, it might feel like that only happens when they are experiencing us in limited doses. Once someone, either in a workplace or personal setting, really gets to know us, and we show our true colours, they will eventually realize that we are just what we said – unstable, volatile, and depressed as fuck. But what they don’t understand is that we don’t want to be this way – not really. Sometimes it’s the safer option than hoping that things can change, but is the lesser of two evils really a preference? I don’t want to feel each positive interaction and good day as though counting down ticks on a bomb. I don’t want to be reminded each time something goes right that bad times are right around the corner. I don’t want to be so terrified that I just want to get it over with – ah, yes, ladies and gentlemen, self-sabotage has entered the chat.
I think this might be one of the most insidious and underrated aspects of debilitating mental health conditions. The thing is, you’re probably not depressed all the time. For some of us, we can be in the absolute lowest low of our life, and still go out, smile and make good conversation, all the while feeling like we’re dying inside. It’s hard for the outside world to tell when we generally feel happy and at peace and when we are just desperately trying to play by social norms and not get rejected. If you’re like me, things probably start out pretty great. Whatever the situation is, it’s making you happy – new job, new relationship, new treatment program – you are living the dream. Maybe things are finally starting to look up. This is going to be the one that sticks. You’ll have you’re ups and downs, sure, but you’ll be able to manage them like a normal person who doesn’t let it completely decimate your functionality.
Then, you feel one of your episodes start to come on. For a while, I had no idea what was signalling an episode, but now, looking back, I can see the patterns. Things get a little uncomfortable. You try expressing what’s going on for you, and maybe it’s received well, but when it comes again and again, you don’t want to keep bringing up the same thing. “They don’t want to hear this again. I’ve already asked nicely. I already tried that strategy.” Things start to get shaky and cracks appear.
“But everything’s fine! Really! I’m just tired. Just feeling a little low. No big deal, this happens all the time, I’ll get through it.”
Maybe you’re able to beat back the dragon for a few days. Months, or even a couple of years. Maybe it’s a long time before that fire inside finally becomes too much to handle. But you try. Oh, you try so hard. Because the thing about us is that, despite what the world sees, we really do care. We want to do well. We want to be liked, and successful, and to get better. Presenteeism is a real problem in our community.
We show up. We show up as much as we can for as long as we can, even when we’re in pain that others can’t even imagine, mostly because we don’t want them to see. So we struggle on, and slowly our symptoms wear away at our resolve to act “normal” until we’re too tired to keep up the front. And then, sometimes, the dam breaks, sometimes with disastrous results. And we’re left there, soaking wet, looking at the ruins, and wondering what the hell just happened.
Unfortunately, many of us don’t have much of a choice in the matter. What we might need is an extended period of time to rest and tend to our mental and emotional wounds, but it can be incredibly difficult to make something like that happen. Never mind the humiliation of needing to ask for time off for mental health reasons, sometimes we are the only one who can do a particular job, and an entire project could come to a halt if we’re not there. Sometimes we do use our sick days when we aren’t “sick” in a way that someone could actually see. If we were caught taking a relaxing walk or spending some time volunteering at a place that fills us up, our bosses would say, “What are you doing? I thought you were too sick to work.” We don’t want to admit that we can’t function as well as we used to or as well as the rest of our team. We believe if we just hold on, better times are ahead – which they might be, especially if you’ve got a cyclical disorder. But in a lot of cases, these “better” times are just times of numbness or ability to ignore the problem while it continues to buzz in the background, not that it has actually been managed.
So, yeah. You’re probably caught between a rock and a hard place, feeling pretty hopeless, misunderstood, and most of all, exhausted. Maybe too exhausted to even try your strategies and other measures that might help you feel better. You’re not lazy –you’re trampled into the mud and keep getting stepped on. People who say, “Just stand up, dude.” Well, I know that it’s not that easy when it seems that every time you try, you get kicked in the face, or the mud drags you down, or a car speeds by and covers you in a wave of muck. For me, the only thing I can do is wait for those moments when I feel good enough to try. Maybe that’s where you’re at right now, or maybe you just have nothing left. That’s okay for now. I’m sending hugs. And I’m so sorry.
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“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him.”
~ Romans 15:13