2010 was a rough year.
After leaving a very fast-paced and stressful industry to take a low-paying job in education (which I loved), I tried to move full-time to the teaching profession. Unfortunately, I couldn't find a full-time job in the town where I own a home -- and no chance of selling that home without a $50k+ loss due to the market. I looked into substitute teaching, but then my husband was laid off and I was called to take up the breadwinning and, equally important, ensuring we had health insurance. I found my way back to my challenging, fast-paced industry at a well-paying job that makes me want to run screaming out the door the minute I arrive every morning. I've been back in the game for about six months. This job wears me out so much that on the weekend I often sleep 10-plus hours each day, and try to avoid leaving my house on Sunday so I can do all the onerous chores I need to do before dragging myself back for another week of what can only be described as pure torture. My husband has still not found a full-time position so I'm literally trapped in my current role.
On top of this, we have been trying to start a family for the last year. After nearly a year of trying, we were finally successful ... until my miscarriage a few months ago. Because of our attempts to start a family, I have stopped taking my antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication, which I find I increasingly miss as my job becomes more stressful. I'm also doing some hormone therapy because we're having so much trouble getting pregnant. Needless to say, I'm not always as cool and collected as I would like to be at work. I've wanted to have kids for almost two years, so I don't want to put this on hold, even though the rest of my life feels like it's crumbling all around me.
I also have some sick family members who need some attention: my divorced father, his mother, and my mom's mother -- all of whom require frequent phone calls, visits and even taking weeks off work at a time to care for them on occasion. None of these family members live close to me, so those weekend trips can sometimes be exhausting when sandwiched between two stressful work weeks.
By the way, did I mention I also turned 30 last year?
So, what's my issue? I'm starting to feel like my friends have abandoned me in what has been about the worst year of my life, and I don't know how guilty I am in that.
I have a good friend who also had a rough 2010, during which she faced the worst breakup of her life. I coached her through a lot of it, but she refused to cut ties with her ex right away, prolonging her misery. I admit I haven't been super-supportive of late, but if she had immediately called it off, it would have been over for a year now -- because she kept sleeping with him, it's only been about seven months now. She responds to depression much differently than I (probably because her depression is based on events, whereas mine is clinical) and rallies together a huge social life. She has confided in me that she must stay busy 110 percent of the time because she is still not OK with being alone and not having anything to do. So, in order to stay super-busy during every waking moment, I feel a bit like she's stealing my friends!
I found out yesterday that one of my best friends from high school made plans with her and another mutual friend and didn't even think to include me. I think one of the biggest reasons I'm hurt is that I was instrumental in bringing all of these people together, and I feel like I'm being cut out because I may not be the life of the party right now. All of these friends only know each other because they knew me independently. When I'm with them, I do my best not to mope -- I tell jokes, I listen to their stories, I even try my best to be evasive or falsely upbeat when they ask questions about my life, because the answer still remains, "Everything pretty much sucks!" I suspect that all my efforts at enthusiasm for life fail because I'm one of those unfortunate people for whom every emotion is visible on their face. I even spoke to an old boss who mentioned my failure to stay upbeat despite challenges and frustrations, and she told me, "It's a choice."
But I don't always feel like it is a choice! I have clinical depression and generalized anxiety disorder. I'm not a naturally upbeat person when faced with frustrating things, so it's a big effort for me -- a conscious one that I make every day. Sometimes I'm successful and sometimes I'm not. There are times when I love life: when I'm with my family and friends. At work, doing something stressful I'm not passionate about -- not always. And the stress from that obviously has started to carry over into my personal life, which is frustrating.
Am I being unfair to my friends to expect them to put up with me as I struggle with all of these difficult things? Am I being too hard on them and myself? Especially when I'm the only married one with a bunch of single friends -- did they maybe just feel I wouldn't be interested? Or do I just suck at life? I am someone who laughs easily and always tries to find the silver lining (or at least a good joke) in even the worst of times, and I always try to temper my complaints with good humor, but I feel like lately all my efforts aren't giving me the results I want and everyone around me is just fed up!
Depressed but Trying Really Really Hard!
It may sound selfish but I think when we are trapped and feeling panicked the important thing is to listen to some authentic voice in ourselves that may sound angry or ugly or selfish but is in fact our true voice of salvation telling us to bring to the world not shallow imitations of what we halfheartedly believe others want us to be but the full and vigorous self we inhabit in our darkest nights and our most ecstatic moments of joy.
What I mean is that it may sound selfish but the important thing here is to pay more attention to your own needs. And that may mean adjusting your medications for the time being.
If you need someone to give you permission to do what makes you happy, I hereby give you permission not only to do what makes you happy but also to speak aloud of the full difficulty and torment of your job and the full sadness of your miscarriage and the full fear that you will never get out of this.
You will get out of this.
You know how to get out of this. You know the way out. You just need the courage to follow your own instincts even though they may be inconvenient for others.
Must you do everything for everyone and always appear to be perfectly upbeat and content? Will your world fall apart otherwise? I don't think so. Your world will not fall apart. Go ahead and try it. Introduce a little chaos into your world. Introduce a little failure. Try it. Shake the rafters. The roof will hold. You are loved and secure. You will be taken care of.
You have had some losses. Accept your losses. Grieve for the losses you have sustained, including the miscarriage. The loss of certain friendships that were wonderful to you must also be a form of loss. Also there is the loss of your wonderful job in education that you loved and the necessity of returning to the soul-killing rat race that you hate.
In view of which, I would say no wonder you're feeling crazy.
I'm feeling a little crazy just reading your letter.
So slow down. Accept your losses. Grieve for them. Take care of yourself. Insist that others do more of the work.
And slow down! Children will come when the time is right. If you need your meds to feel stable, get back on your meds. Insist that your husband do more chores so you can get more rest on Sunday.
And did I mention just slow down?
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